Despite his best efforts, Michael Jordan couldn't help but draw a crowd.
Even in the middle of the night. At a grocery store. In Florida.
When Jordan made his detour from basketball to baseball in 1994, he flew down to Sarasota, Florida for spring training with the White Sox. Upon arrival, he did what anyone would do: He stocked up on food.
And so, as White Sox head athletic trainer emeritus Herm Schneider described it on a Thursday conference call, Jordan set off on a middle-of-the-night grocery run. But not even a deserted grocery store was safe from the crowds flocking to see His Airness.
"We got there, and his house was empty. He had no food in it," Schneider said. "He asked, 'Can we go to a grocery store and get some food because I need some food in the fridge.' I said, 'Sure, there's a Publix not far away from where you're staying.' So we got in the car. We drove over to Publix.
"And this was at about 12:30 a.m. ... There was basically not even a handful of people in the store at that time. But it's unbelievable; within 30 minutes, the word got out that he was at the store, and it was a zoo in that store at about 1:15 a.m. It was crazy.
"He said 'Let's get these groceries paid for and let's get out of here.' So we did that and it was pretty crazy. Two or three guys who were working there saw him and recognized him, and they got on their phones or whatever they did, and it was incredible."
It likely won't go down as the most memorable story involving a famous athlete at a Publix, but it's still a good one.
It was only the beginning of the madness that followed Jordan around that spring. Former White Sox outfielder Mike Huff remembered it on Thursday as "a spring training like you could never imagine. Think about how many times you go to a spring training for Major League Baseball, and you have Ted Koppel and "Nightline" showing up to ask questions about a teammate of yours. It's just mind-boggling."
Koppel should have staked out that Publix.
For more behind-the-scenes tales from Michael Jordan's baseball career, listen to this recent edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.
Michael Jordan couldnt even escape crowds on a middle-of-the-night Publix run originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago