Could Michael Jordan have made the big leagues if he didn’t return to the NBA?
Michael Jordan shocked the sports world when he retired (for the first time) and made a career switch to attempting to play professional baseball.
Jordan played with the Chicago White Sox Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, where he played for future MLB manager Terry Francona. Naturally, Jordan did not see his basketball skills and talent translate to the baseball diamond, but he still handled himself well enough that White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf thinks Jordan could have made it as an MLB outfielder.
“Yes, I really do (think so),’’ Reinsdorf tells USA TODAY Sports. “Maybe as an extra outfielder. Look at what he accomplished.
“He last played baseball in high school at 17, and at the age of 31, he was playing in AA. We should have started him in A-ball, but the press accommodations weren’t adequate. So, 14 years later, he competed in AA, hit over .250 in the Arizona Fall League.
“If he had played another year, I really believe he would have made the big leagues.’’
That’s not entirely a new opinion from Reinsdorf who said as much during The Last Dance and in previous conversations when asked about Jordan’s baseball exploits.
But it does make for a fun hypothetical. Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time with an unmistakable work ethic and passion to prove all of his doubters or potential doubters wrong. If anyone could have made it to the big leagues after not playing since high school, it could have been Jordan if he didn’t return to his day job.
Francona said on The Last Dance he thought Jordan could have made it too if he got 1,000 at bats in the minor leagues to improve his skills at the plate. His athleticism would have allowed him to chase and track fly balls in left field. His arm wouldn’t have been like Andre Dawson or Raul Mondesi but he could have been good enough to be an extra man.
If the Mets are keeping the door open on Tim Tebow making it to the big leagues, surely Jordan could have been an MLB player too, but he knew being the best NBA player was where he wanted to be. And who can fault him for that?