Michael Jordan took a year-and-a-half break from the NBA in October 1993. Jordan was coming off a three-peat and a fantastic season. He averaged 32.6 points per game. Jordan's basketball career was at its peak, but his personal life was not. MJ decided to retire in 1993 and pursued a career in baseball. The death of his father influenced his decision.
Playing baseball was a new challenge and a distraction for Jordan and his off-field troubles. Jordan's father wanted him to be a baseball player, so this was a great way of honoring him.
Jerry Reinsdorf owned the Chicago White Sox, a Major League Baseball team. Reinsdorf also owned the Chicago Bulls. Reinsdorf was familiar with Jordan, and he reportedly paid him the $4 million he would have made if he had stayed with the Bulls. In 1994, Jordan joined the Birmingham Barons, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
The NBA superstar appeared in 127 games for the Barons, but he was far from impressive.
Here are Michael Jordan's basic stats during his tenure with the Birmingham Barons.
- 497 plate appearances, 436 at-bats
- .202/.289/.266 (average/on-base/slugging), .556 OPS
- 88 hits: 17 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers
- 51 RBIs, 46 runs scored
- 30 stolen bases/18 caught stealing
- 51 walks, 114 strikeouts
Jordan may not have been the best player on the team, but he led the team in games played. The Barons finished the season with a 65-74 record, the worst record in the West Division of the Southern League.
Terry Francona, the team manager, believed that Michael Jordan that if Jordan had played more, he would have made it to Major League Baseball.
Michael Jordan's return to basketball
After being absent for more than a year, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in March 1995. His first game was against the Indiana Pacers. He averaged 26.9 points per game that season.
The Orlando Magic eliminated the Chicago Bulls in the second round. Jordan had a couple of impressive playoff games that season, including a playoff opener with a 48-9-8 stat line.
The Bulls and Jordan bounced back in 1996 and won their fourth title. This title was the beginning of another three-peat. Jordan ended his NBA career with a 6-0 record in the Finals.