When Michael Jordan announced he was going to play baseball in 1994, Mike Krukow had the same reaction as everyone else.
When he said I wanna play baseball, I was like 'What?!'" Krukow said Monday morning on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show.
Jordan's first and only season playing Double-A baseball for the Birmingham Barons was Krukow's first as a full-time broadcaster for the Giants. Krukow was only five years removed from his last season in San Francisco and knew exactly what would hinder Jordan the most on the field.
It wasn't just his lack of experience or the fact that he hadn't played baseball in at least 14 years, dating back to high school. Actually, it was the star shooting guard's body. Jordan was built perfectly to dominate for the Chicago Bulls, not the Chicago White Sox.
"He didn't have the body for baseball," Krukow said. "You look at him get in the batter's box and he was tall and had long arms and if you're pitching against a guy like that, you're gonna pound him in. He is not gonna see anything out over the plate where he can hurt ya.
"I thought the challenge would be insurmountable just because of his body type."
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Jordan is 6-foot-6 and weighed 216 pounds, perfect to defend anybody on the hardwood and leap through the sky. His length could hurt him as a hitter in baseball, though. It wasn't easy for him to keep his elbows in and consistently have a short swing to the ball.
Krukow believes that wasn't the only obstacle for Jordan as a hitter, too.
"When he got over to the White Sox, they immediately gave him a hitting coach who was an established hitting coach," Krukow said. "... I think they should have just left him alone to let him figure things out alone before they threw this extreme batting philosophy at him. I think that set him back.
"And really, I think that eventually took him down."
Jordan remarkably started his Double-A career with a 13-game hitting streak. And then pitchers began throwing him curveballs. He finished the year batting just .202 with a lowly .556 OPS and struck out 114 times in 127 games.
Mike Barnett was Jordan's hitting coach in Birmingham and the two worked tirelessly together, but Krukow said the coach had an "unorthodox style" that didn't do MJ any favors. More than anything, the former Giants pitchers called Jordan a "great ambassador for the game" with how he treated teammates, coaches, field workers and those behind the scenes.
Despite his reservations, Krukow gained a great deal of admiration for Jordan.
"I didn't think he really had a chance to make it to the big leagues because of how tall he was and how long his arms were, but my respect when up," Krukow said. "He left being the best guy in the world [at basketball] and he exposed himself to ridicule and criticism and he didn't care.
"He loved the game of baseball, and I always admired that about him."