Michael Jordan's baseball career was far more promising than many people believe it was. So much so that current Indians manager (and Jordan's minor league manager at the time) Terry Francona believes that Jordan certainly was going to play on an MLB team.
What sort of a player was Michael Jordan in baseball? Well, he was on his way to the major leagues. And that may surprise you given the fact that Jordan hit only .202 in 1994 for the Double-A Birmingham Barons. But Jordan was 31 years old and he had not played baseball since high school. Jordan was getting better as the year went on. He hit .276 in August, and after the season he went to play in the Arizona Fall League, where teams send many of their top prospects. And Jordan hit .252. Now, during this season at Birmingham, Jordan showed a knack for driving in runs. Understanding the strike zone and stealing bases. All good barometers of future success. Jordan had fifty one RBI's, 51 walks and 30 steals. How impressive is that combination? Well go back over the last four years in the entire Chicago White Sox organization -- that includes majors and minors -- and that includes more than 1200 player years. How many of those seasons included? At least 51 RBIs, 51 walks and three steals? Exactly zero. Last year in the major leagues, only three players reached those milestones. Those were Jonathan Villar, Ronald Acuña Jr, and Christian Yelich. Now, I asked Terry Francona if he thought that Jordan was on his way to being a major leaguer. Francona is now the Indians manager at the time, but was the manager for Jordan at Birmingham. And Francona said yes. He said, "I thought it would take three years for Jordan to get the 1,500 at bats he needed to be a major leaguer." Now, Jordan could have gone directly to the major leagues at the time. Sandy Alderson was the general manager of the Oakland A's and he offered Jordan a major league contract. He'd be on the opening day roster as part of the 25 man team. Jordan wasn't interested. He wanted to play for the White Sox, but he also wanted to earn his major league spot, not be handed one. So Michael Jordan went about trying to become a major leaguer the way all minor leaguers do, unglamorously by grinding at the game, by making adjustments, by learning from mistakes, by gaining the wisdom of failure and from 10 hour bus rides. Michael Jordan was on his way.
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