Michael Jordan's departure from his life as the greatest basketball player in the world to play minor league baseball with the White Sox is the stuff of Chicago legend.

But it might have gone quite differently. And with a different organization altogether.

Former Oakland Athletics general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN's Buster Olney on a recent edition of the Baseball Tonight podcast that he offered Jordan a spot on his major league roster in 1994.

"You recall when Jordan stopped playing basketball and decided to try baseball, and ultimately went down to the Birmingham Barons — the Chicago White Sox affiliate," Alderson said. "When I heard that was happening, or about to happen, I called his agent right away and said, 'Hey look, I understand he may be going to Double-A. I don't even know who the 25th man is on our major league team right now, I will sign him and put him on the major league roster. He'll be part of our 25-man team. Tomorrow.'"

That's right. Jordan had the chance to be part of a major league roster that also included Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire.

"It wasn’t about, 'We’ve got a spot for him, he’s got a particular skill,'" Alderson told Olney. "That wasn’t the idea. The idea was, 'We’ve got Michael Jordan on our team' and the interest that would have generated."

That might not have done much for Oakland's fortunes in 1994, as Jordan proved to be far less of a baseball player than he was a basketball player. But it could have certainly altered the course of Chicago sports history.


Had Jordan achieved his dream of playing Major League Baseball right away, would he have been so quick to abandon the sport and make his return to basketball in 1995?

And had he been playing for another owner besides Jerry Reinsdorf, would it have been such an easy move to go right back to the Bulls? Or might his return come with another team?

Those are hypotheticals that Bulls fans fortunately don't have to worry about.

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Turns out Jordan, while thankful to receive the opportunity to play in the big leagues, wasn't keen on making the jump from no pro baseball experience to the sport's highest level.

"I was excited about (the offer), and Michael was very appreciative," David Falk, Jordan's agent, told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. "But he wanted to do the baseball thing from the ground up.

"He didn’t feel he deserved a spot on the major league roster and didn’t feel he was ready. He didn’t want to be a Herb Washington type who would just steal bases and be a part-time outfielder."

And so Jordan opted for the comfort of a Reinsdorf-owned organization. He went to spring training with the White Sox and spent a season with the Barons.

But if Jordan hadn't been a Bull, if Reinsdorf didn't own both an NBA team and a Major League Baseball team in the same city, if the conditions hadn't been exactly right, Jordan might have gone to the big leagues in Oakland.

"Michael’s an amazingly loyal guy," Falk told Castrovince. "If not for his relationship with the White Sox, (the A’s offer) might have been something he might have done."

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