I really enjoyed MLB.com’s “Throwback Thursday” today, which marks the 22nd anniversary of the day Michael Jordan played in an exhibition baseball game with the White Sox against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It’s totally worth a read today.
Jordan, then 31, and taking a break from basketball – I call it a break because, of course, we now know he would ultimately return – actually notched two hits in the game (neither of them especially impressive, but hey, hits off professional pitchers!).
Check out this video package on the game, which includes highlights from the game as called by Harry Caray and Steve Stone. It’s just fantastic:
A few years ago, I wrote about Jordan’s foray into professional baseball, and how, despite what some may tell you, it was actually the most impressive athletic accomplishment of his career:
But let’s set aside the numbers. Let’s grant that they’re terrible, and go as far as to say he would have been one of the worst players in the league. Professional ballplayers – even those at AA – have been honing their craft for years. For all their lives, really. Compared to the general population, the average AA player is Babe Ruth. The best AA players are big league caliber, and the worst AA players are still better than 99.99% of people who’ve ever picked up a baseball.
Michael Jordan, after dedicating himself to basketball for the previous 13 years, picked up a bat and joined that 0.01%. He competed, passably, with some of the best baseball players on Earth, having not played with or against them since he was a teenager (and, even then, what was the talent level against which he was playing?). That’s the kind of accomplishment that is so difficult to contextualize that it is probably massively underappreciated.
If you’ve never read it, I’ll ask only that you read the whole thing for the context on what I’m saying before you shred my lack of basketball knowledge. It’s the one with the hoopy and the net thing, right?