On October 5, 1993, Michael Jordan arrived at Comiskey Park holding the biggest secret in the sports world.

Coming off his 3rd consecutive NBA title with the Bulls,  Jordan was the guest of honor that night, asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Game 1 of the ALCS between the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

"Is there anyone more symbolic of the winning attitude of the Windy CIty than Michael Jordan?" asked CBS play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel on the air that night as Jordan threw his pitch wide to White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice.

The White Sox were on the verge of making it to their first World Series since 1959. The Bulls were seemingly the favorites to win their 4th straight NBA title.

Neither would occur. 

At precisely 9:58pm local time, with two outs in the 7th inning and the White Sox trailing 7-3, the city of Chicago and the entire sports world was shaken to their core.

Gumbel: "Let's go quickly to Pat O'Brien, Pat?"

O'Brien: "Greg, a breaking story here."

A breaking story?  What could it be?  Is Frank Thomas hurt?

Oh no.  It was much bigger than that.

O'Brien: "The Chicago Bulls have called a press conference for tomorrow morning, and there's high speculation that Michael Jordan will retire from basketball forever."

And just like that, the planet stopped spinning here in Chicago.

 

Michael Jordan retiring from basketball at the age of 30??  This couldn't have been true.

We didn't know for sure until the next day. The Bulls held a press conference at the team's practice facility and Jordan made it official.

"I've always stressed that when I lose the motivation, it's time for me to move away from the game of basketball," Jordan said to the hundreds of media members that packed the Berto Center and the millions of people watching at home, most of them in a catatonic shock.

Here in the future we can rest easy knowing that Jordan eventually returned to the Bulls and won three more championships. But back then, it felt like the world had come to an end. Certainly the Bulls world, and anyone who loved basketball.

Asked by a reporter at the press conference if he felt Jordan would ever return to the Bulls, Scottie Pippen said quite bluntly: "I don't think he's ever coming back."

I vividly remember seeing Pippen saying that. My heart sunk to my feet.

The video above looks back at what happened that night at Comiskey Park when the Jordan news broke, the utter disbelief felt by teammates and media members covering the press conference the next day, with footage that hasn't been seen since that fateful announcement exactly 23 years ago.