Was Michael Jordan Good At Baseball? The Truth About His 1994 Season

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My grandmother Susan could sew with the best of them; her mittens and sweaters were world-class, but that didn’t mean she could start making shoes and competing with Nike or Adidas.

Was Michael Jordan a below-average Minor League Baseball rookie, a way for teams to put fans in the seats, or a professional athlete trying to tick something off his bucket list? Was Michael Jordan good at baseball, and how did his stats compare to other professional players?

With only a season of statistics to analyze, it’s hard for anybody to answer those questions. I’ve examined historic baseballs, worn musty leather mitts, and done the research; here’s what I found.

Michael Jordan’s Baseball Stats And What They Say About His Abilities On The Diamond

It’s easy to look at his statistics for the season and dismiss Michael Jordan’s baseball prowess, but that simply isn’t true.

MJ was a world-class athlete who approached baseball with the same passion and dedication demonstrated throughout his NBA career. There were hiccups and mistakes, but MJ hadn’t focused on baseball since his childhood, so that’s expected. Jordan’s batting average was .202, which puts him well behind the rest of the Baron’s roster.

By the end of the season, he was the worst hitter in the Southern Baseball League.

Michael Jordan’s batting statistics for the 1994 season with the Birmingham Barons

Batting Average.202
On-base Percentage.289
Slugging Percentage.266
Source: https://www.thebaseballcube.com/content/stats/minor~1994~10110/

Which Baseball Position did Michael Jordan play?

You’d probably expect someone with MJ’s star status to cover one of the bases or pitch; however, he had slightly more humble beginnings in baseball.

Michael would start and finish his baseball career as an outfielder, far away from the batter and out in the vastness of the right field. It felt as if Leonardo Dicaprio was an extra rather than a leading actor. It was all part of MJ’s careful approach to baseball; he wanted to start from the bottom and take a less crucial role in the team’s success.

When Did MJ Start His Baseball Career?

It was arguably the peak of his career when seeds of doubt began to sow themselves in Michael Jordan’s mind.

The Air Jordan creator signed his Minor League contract in early February 1994, though Michael wouldn’t stand over the plate until April 8th. His presence changed everything, inside the locker room and outside on the bleachers. Even though his team would lose the first game, and Jordan would perform pretty poorly, the future was bright.

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What baseball team did Michael Jordan play for?

I do not doubt that any team in the MLB would have snapped up Michael Jordan if the price was right. The acquisition would pay for itself with lightning speed, but intrigued teams had other things to consider.

David Falk, Michael’s agent at the time, was a well-networked man. Carrier pigeons and telegraphs were dispatched, but numerous phone calls were made when the birds didn’t return, and the telegraphs weren’t delivered.

We don’t know the specifics because this was before the days of Twitter and Facebook, and the conversations were private. When the dust settled, Jordan had turned down a Major League Baseball contract with the Oakland Athletics and signed with the White Sox’s minor league affiliate, the Birmingham Barons.

He didn’t want to be inserted into the sport at the top level; he wanted to go through the process organically. It’s no coincidence that the White Sox and Chicago Bulls have the same owner, a powerful fellow, and obviously supportive of MJ’s unorthodox transition.

TeamWinsLossesWin-Loss PercentagePlacement
West Division
Huntsville Stars8159.5791st
Memphis Chicks7763.5502nd
Greenville Braves7169.5073rd
Chattanooga Lookouts6772.4824th
East Division
Jacksonville Suns8355.6011st
Orlando Cubs8057.5842nd
Knoxville Smokies7265.5263rd
Carolina Mudcats6276.4494th
Birmingham Barons5783.4075th

Why Did Michael Jordan Play Baseball? The loss of a father and a New Mountain To Climb

His dad had died,” said David Falk, Jordan’s agent. “And his dad had always wanted him to try to play baseball.”

I challenge anyone to think of a more potent source of motivation than the loss of a family member. Michael’s father’s words were frozen in time, unanswered and unresolved.

The nature of his death was brutal and unresolved, James Jordan was discovered slumped over a tree branch in the swamps of North Carolina in the summer of 1993, and his car was found nearby, stripped, and vandalized. In the trial, it was revealed that James had been killed in his car while he slept by the side of the highway.

The effect on Michael Jordan was instantaneous, and two months later, he abruptly left the NBA.

Michael Jordan’s other motivations for playing baseball

The premature loss of a father wasn’t the only reason for Jordan’s departure from the sport he dominated, though it was the more powerful and persistent reason.

Some speculate that the mourning in July 1993 caused Michael to leave the NBA. However, in 1992 he had already been speaking with the team’s owner about playing baseball professionally.

The pressure of being up on a pedestal was becoming tiresome, the pace was exhausting, and his father’s prophetic words made him curious about a baseball career. By 1993, MJ had been at the top of the sport for a while, and he had lost motivation; all of his goals had been achieved.

Highlights of Michael Jordan’s 1994 Baseball Season

  1. Jordan’s first professional baseball game was on April 8, 1994, against the Chattanooga Lookouts. He went 0-3 at the plate but hit a game-winning RBI in the 7th inning.
  2. On May 4, 1994, Jordan hit his first professional home run against the Winston-Salem Spirits.
  3. Jordan’s most memorable game with the Barons was on July 30, 1994, against the Jacksonville Suns. He went 4-4 at the plate, hit his 13th double of the season, and stole his 30th base of the season.
  4. Jordan finished the season with a .202 batting average, 3 home runs, 51 RBI, and 30 stolen bases.
  5. Although he did not play in the game, Jordan was named to the Southern League All-Star team.
  6. Jordan received the Larry Doby Award, given annually to the top rookie in the White Sox organization.

Despite his mediocre statistics, Jordan’s season with the Barons was a huge success from a business standpoint. Attendance at Barons games increased by nearly 100% compared to the previous season, and Jordan’s presence brought national media attention to minor league baseball.

Michael Jordan Baseball Experience – Frequently Asked Questions

Did Michael Jordan Ever Hit A Homerun?

Michael Jordan did hit a home run during his minor-league baseball career. In fact, he hit three home runs during his time playing for the Birmingham Barons in 1994.

Jordan’s overall baseball performance was far from his legendary basketball career, but his home runs proved that he was capable of producing memorable moments on the diamond as well.

How long did Michael Jordan play baseball for?

Jordan played professional baseball for a brief period of time: only one season. He played in the minor leagues for the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, during the 1994 season. Jordan played in 127 games during his baseball career.

Did Michael Jordan ever play baseball for the White Sox?

Michael Jordan never played in a regular-season Major League Baseball game for the Chicago White Sox. However, he did sign a contract with the team in 1994 and participated in their spring training before being assigned to their Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons.

He also participated in the Arizona Fall League that year. Although he didn’t play an official MLB game for the White Sox, he did play an exhibition game against the Cubs, and his brief baseball career remains an intriguing chapter in the life of one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Here’s why none of that matters

Holding up MJ’s statistics to the other MLB statistics is our only measurement form, but it makes about as much sense as comparing my father’s 100m dash to Usain Bolt’s.

It’s a miracle that Jordan got those stats, we’re talking about a person who hadn’t swung a bat in 14 years, and he had almost no experience hitting professional pitches. Comparisons with other players happen, but it’s apples and oranges.

His ability to hold his own with top-level baseball players is a tribute to his unquenchable work ethic and ceaseless athleticism. He didn’t want to be a burden to the Barons, and he trained just as hard, if not harder, than his peers. He made numerous mistakes, but we overlook all of his triumphs.

His foray into baseball wasn’t publicity; it was a passionate pursuit by a dominant athlete looking to conquer once more.

Michael Specter
Michael Specter
Mike holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Minnesota and has held managerial and baseball head coaching roles at the college level.