To paraphrase Spike Lee, we'll always have the shoes.
It was 20 years ago this summer that NBA legend Michael Jordan removed his Chicago Bulls tank top and extra-long shorts and exchanged them for baseball pants and spikes. He also set aside his uniform No. 23 for No. 45 and joined the Chicago White Sox organization. Jerry Reinsdorf owned the White Sox and Bulls, and he couldn't say no.
Pursuing his father's dream for him to play Major League Baseball, Jordan batted .202/.289/.266 as a 31-year-old with the Class AA Birmingham Barons of the Southern League. Not great, but not that much below team averages that season. Playing for skipper Terry Francona, Jordan also stole 30 bases, walked 51 times and threw out six runners on the bases. There was some talent there. But Jordan never played organized baseball again, returning to the NBA in 1995 and winning three more championships with Chicago. Go Bulls.
To mark the occasion of Jordan's baseball turn, Nike is manufacturing Air Jordan 9 Retro “Barons." This is how the shoes are described by John Kim of Sneaker News:
Even after the successful “Kilroy Pack” in 2012, Jordan Brand continues to give these Jordan shoes some love as we get another look at the upcoming Air Jordan 9 “Barons” – a pair paying tribute to Jordan’s endeavors on the baseball diamond. Featuring the classic White Sox system colors with pinstriping on the interior and “45″ stitched on the heel, the Air Jordan 9 “Barons” almost seem like an immediate extension from the Kilroy joints.
Kilroy was here, eh? Looks more like Motorboat Jones to me. Now, before you run out to your local Stride Rite, note the price for a pair at Sole-UP.com: $545.00. And then there's shipping. Shop around and find them for perhaps $170 elsewhere. It's not just M.J.'s fault. That's the going rate for certain kinds of gym shoes these days. People will pay. America!
Footwear aside, a lot of folks short-sightedly took shots at Jordan for trying to play baseball, but it was one of the coolest things an athlete has ever done, and his was the only happy baseball story of the entire 1994 season — with major leaguers on strike and MLB canceling the World Series. If you have $545-plus of disposable income, perhaps you'll want to reminisce about Michael Jordan the baseball player while wearing your No. 45 "Barons."
Big BLS H/H: @meechone on Twitter
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