On this date in 1995, farmhand Michael Jordan walked out of the White Sox spring camp in Sarasota, Fla., ending his quest and his late father’s dream to become a Major Leaguer.
Publicly, Jordan did not blame anyone for his decision to retire but he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Owners were using replacement players in exhibition games while the union was still out as a result of the work stoppage that began in the previous August which cancelled the World Series for the first time.
Union chief Donald Fehr declared the minor leaguers who played in paid exhibition games would be considered strikebreakers.
To avoid the mess, which obviously made him uncomfortable, Jordan bolted Sox camp.
Eight days later, Jordan announced he was returning to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls with a simple yet powerful statement:
The abrupt end brought to a close the most interesting minor league career in the 104-year history of the White Sox.
Jordan spent 1994 at the Sox Double-A affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. Playing the outfield, Jordan hit .202 with three homers, 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases while helping to set attendance records throughout the Southern League. A stint in the Arizona Fall League with the Scottsdale Scorpions against elite prospects produced a .252 average.
In hindsight, it was clear Jordan, who was ticked for Triple-A in 1995 and earning praise during the process, was making progress.
For a guy who never pro baseball, you have to look at Michael’s stint and say, “Not bad.”