Two years ago Michael Jordan was talking on the telephone to his best friend from way back. "You're never going to guess what I have in my hands," Jordan told Dave Bridgers, his buddy since both were seven-year-olds in Wilmington, N.C. "A baseball bat. I'm thinking about playing two sports." He was serious. And the bat rested in those blessed hands, and it felt good.
Two months ago Michael Jordan was talking to his best friend from way back. Jordan said he had begun to take batting practice against a pitching machine at Comiskey Park. He was serious. And the bat rested in those blessed hands, and it felt...odd. That was Jordan's word. "It's a little odd," Jordan told Bridgers. "It ain't a free throw, man."
A lifetime ago Mike (Rabbit) Jordan and Dave (Skõsh) Bridgers dreamed of playing major league baseball. "We were really into the Oakland A's," says Bridgers, who still lives in Wilmington. "World champions in '72, '73 and '74. We were always big Reggie Jackson fans. Basketball was just something Mike messed with."
Indications are that Michael Jordan, who retired from the Chicago Bulls in October after having duplicated the A's three-peat of championships, is considering a career in major league baseball. Reports from Chicago say that he has been taking BP three or four days a week this winter, for two or three hours a day, usually at the home of the Chicago White Sox. "Those reports," reports David Falk, Jordan's agent, "are very accurate."
Indications are that Michael Jordan may attend spring training with the White Sox, who will greet him in Sarasota, Fla. "Michael Jordan is serious about playing baseball," columnist Bob Verdi wrote in the Chicago Tribune last week. "If he thinks he can make it with the White Sox, he'll show up in spring training, and you can book it."
Is MJ serious? Can he make it? Is baseball his sport? Will his next video be Come Shag Flies with Me? For the love of god, was basketball just...something Mike messed with?
Was it? Ask the owner. The owner of the White Sox is Jerry Reinsdorf. The owner of the Bulls is Jerry Reinsdorf. If the man who won three consecutive championships for the Bulls wants to attend spring training with the White Sox, Reinsdorf will let him. "Why wouldn't we let him?" Reinsdorf asks rhetorically.
Why would they? After all, the man is 30 years old. He hasn't played baseball since his junior year of high school. He lost a celebrity home run hitting contest to Tom Selleck during All-Star Game festivities in Baltimore last summer. And he thinks "Mrs. Schott" is a description of what Will Perdue does whenever Perdue gets the ball in the paint.
"I'm not going to say there isn't anything Michael Jordan can't do," says Reinsdorf, going for a triple-double negative, one that translates as "Michael Jordan can do anything." By way of proof, Reinsdorf tells the story of the first time he saw Jordan bowl. It was, insists Reinsdorf, the first time Jordan had ever bowled. MJ rolled two strikes. Without looking at the pins. Throwing the ball between his legs.
"If he were 18," concludes the owner, "you'd say he had all the tools."