Tag Archives: outfielder

Historic Rookies: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson In 1911

Many baseball fans consider the Legendary outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be one of the greatest players ever. He had a very good career but unfortunately is most remembered as a member of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One of the most impressive parts of his career is one that is often overlooked, the beginning.

The Legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

Joe Jackson began his major league career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He would end his time with the Athletics after the 1909 season. During his two seasons with the club he only played in ten games. With 40 total at bats he only reach base 7 times. He would start the 1910 season with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans but signed on to the Major League Cleveland Naps at the end of the season. He finished playing 20 games and had 75 at bats, 29 hits and a batting average of .387. It was clear following the 1910 season that Jackson had great potential.

Joe Jackson returned to the Naps in 1911 for his first full season in the Major Leagues. Jackson played a total of 147 games and led the Naps to 80-73 record (3rd best in the American League). Jackson had one of the greatest rookie seasons baseball has ever seen with a rookie batting average record of .408. His batting average in 1911 stands as the second best single season batting record to this day. Jackson notched 233 hits, 7 home runs and batted in 83 runs. “Shoeless” Joe showed everyone a preview of how great his career would become. He was traded from the Naps to the Chicago White Sox during the 1915 season.

Joe Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal that tarnished the name of baseball. When his career was finished he had a career bating average of .356, 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s. He would be in the Hall Of Fame today if not for the controversy he found himself in following the 1919 World Series. Over one hundred years after “Shoeless” Joe amazed the baseball world he legend still lives on and will be remembered forever.

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How The 1994 MLB Strike Ended Michael Jordan’s Baseball Career

In November of 1993 just shortly after the murder of his father, Michael Jordan retired from basketball.  Jordan had revolutionized basketball with his high skill set and magnetic charisma. He had already cemented his position in the Hall Of Fame and was arguably the most popular athlete in the history of America. After nine seasons in the NBA and three straight NBA titles it was all over.

As 1994 began Michael Jordan soon announced that he would try his hand at professional baseball.  Mostly because it was the one sport his father wanted to see him succeed at when he was growing up.  It would be a tribute to his father he said. The owner of the Chicago Bulls was Jerry Reinsdorf and he also happened to own the Chicago White Sox.  Reinsdorf being the smart and adventurous business man he was knew that Michael Jordan would be a huge money draw in baseball.  He agreed to sign Jordan to a minor league contract and pay him the same amount that he was contracted to receive with his Bulls contract.  It was a done deal and the media and fans clamored to see Jordan make his debut in baseball.

Michael Jordan the "baseball player" (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan the “baseball player” (Getty Images)

As spring training began for the White Sox in Sarasota, Florida the Michael Jordan circus began.  The media was always around and were focused solely on Jordan.  They followed his batting practices, fielding practices and watched his every move.  The fans also swarmed him every chance they could get, hoping they could snag an autograph of one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The attendance for White Sox games that spring shot through the roof and many fans were unable to even get a ticket to the spring games.  Michael Jordan played his first official spring training game on March 3, 1994 as an outfielder.  He would play 17 games that spring and on March 31, 1994 was optioned to the White Sox minor league affiliate the Birmingham Barons.

The city of Birmingham was set on fire by the Michael Jordan experience.  They sold out more games than they had ever before and had major media at almost every game.  It was a treat for the fans of the Barons to get to see such a great athlete trying to make it in a sport he had not played since high school.  Jordan had an average season with many ups and downs.  He batted .202, hit 3 home runs and batted in 51 runs.  Jordan played 127 games in that season and struck out 114 times.  He definitely had a rough time but did make improvements by the end of the season.

Jordan being Jordan wanted to work more on his baseball skills and decided to play in the Arizona Fall League following his first minor league season.  In that short season for the Scottsdale Scorpions Jordan batted a .252.  While not great by professional baseball standards he did improve even more in the fall league and was poised to continue his development in 1995.

Unfortunately Major League Baseball was still dealing with the 1994 players strike when the 1995 Spring Training season was to begin.  As the battle between the owners and the players union intensified the lines were being drawn.  The players were deciding whether to sit out until a deal could be arranged or to play anyways.  Jordan reported to camp in Florida initially in February of 1995. He would end up deciding in March not to be involved in the drama and chose to sit out while the strike continued.

It was during this time in mid march of 1995 Jordan attended a Chicago Bulls game.  just two weeks later he was on the court playing basketball again.  Many fans where excited to have his talents back in basketball and did not care that he quite his baseball career.  Jordan would go onto win three more NBA Titles and retired from basketball for good after the 2002-03 season.

Because his basketball career picked up right where it left off in 1993 not many questioned the decision.  It makes one wonder almost two decade’s later what would have been if not for the baseball players strike of 1994.  Would Michael Jordan continued until he was either cut or made it to the Major Leagues?  That is hard to say but it was clear he was on the right track to eventually play at the Major League level.  He was only 32 when he went back to basketball and had time to develop into an even better baseball player.

We will never know where baseball could have taken Michael Jordan.  We wont ever know where Jordan could have taken baseball had he stayed.  The popularity of baseball would have likely increased after the horrible strike and maybe Jordan could have been the face of baseball.  All we can do now is imagine what could have been but it is clear to see that the baseball strike deterred Jordan from continuing his baseball dream.

Bryce Harper Headed to The All Star Game

The rookie phenom that is 19 year old Bryce Harper will continue his whirl wind season by going to the All Star Game.  Harper was not originally slated to attend the game which takes place this week in Kansas City.  Harper will be taking the spot of injured Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.  Harper will be the 3rd youngest player to play in the MLB All Star Game.  While Harper will be playing off of the bench the eyes of all of the fans will be on him for sure.

Harper has had a solid start to his MLB career since his debut in April.  He is an excellent outfielder fielder with a rocket arm.  His offensive play has been very good for his experience level.  Harper has a batting average of .283, hit 8 home runs and had 25 RBI’s and scored 43 runs in just 62 games for the 1st place Washington Nationals.

Harper going deep at Fenway Park earlier this season.
(Getty Images)

Harper came in with a lot of hype and has been living up to it.  He has displayed a maturity on and off the field, the later many thought he would be able to do.  He has shown a lot of personality and has a charisma that a lot of players don’t have.  He has created great moments already in his young career, like when he hit a home run in the historic Fenway Park during his first game on that field.  He is in the right spot now to really display his skills in front of a national audience.  Harper is a strong contender for Rookie of the Year in the National League.

Harper will probably get at least 1 at bat and play 2 innings or so.  Many players have created unforgettable moments in All Star Games.  I have a feeling Bryce Harper will have a chance to make one of those moments.  When he gets he will more than likely take advantage of it.  If Harper continues to play the way he has been and develop into the player that he has been billed to be than this is just the beginning.