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Michael Jordan signed with White Sox 25 years ago Thursday

1-14-98--Michael Jordan signs autographs along the outfield wall at the White Sox training facility in Sarasota, Florida during his tryout with the Sox in 1994. Photo by Tom Cruze.

Michael Jordan seemed to be at the height of his glory in 1993. He had just won three consecutive NBA titles for the Bulls.

But Jordan’s world came crashing down on July 23, 1993, when his father, James Jordan, was murdered in Lumberton, North Carolina. And that October, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA, citing a lack of desire to play, though he ultimately admitted his father’s death contributed to his decision.

Four months later, Jordan made his father’s dream of his son becoming a professional baseball player a reality and traded in his sneakers for cleats.

Thursday marked the 25th anniversary of the day Jordan signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox. At the time, he saw the career change as an opportunity to reach new heights.

“I’ve never been afraid to fail,” Jordan said on Feb. 7, 1994. “That’s something you have to deal with in reality. I think I’m strong enough as a person to accept failing, but I can’t accept not trying.”

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After reporting to spring training in Sarasota, Florida, Jordan played the 1994 season for the Class AA Birmingham Barons. In his first and only professional baseball season, he slashed .202/.289/.266 with 51 RBI.

Jordan didn’t have the same success that Bo Jackson, a star NFL player turned All-Star outfielder for the Royals, did in switching sports. He returned to his true passion basketball in March 1995 and cemented himself as the GOAT or “greatest of all-time” as he led the Bulls to another three-peat.