Michael Jordan Baseball Career Stats and Highlights in NBA Star's Two Years Away From the Chicago Bulls

Michael Jordan's first retirement from the NBA in October 1993 came as an enormous shock. Jordan was at the peak of his powers and only four months earlier he had guided the Chicago Bulls to a third consecutive title and had won a third straight NBA Finals MVP.

Following his father's murder in July 1993, however, Jordan admitted feeling drained and quit the NBA. An even bigger surprise was to follow as Jordan swapped the court for the ballpark and signed with the Chicago White Sox in February 1994, before being assigned to the franchise's minor league system.

Episode 7 of The Last Dance, ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Jordan's final season with the Bulls, delved into MJ's baseball foray.

Jordan played baseball as a kid and explained in the documentary that he had spoken at length with his late father about leaving the NBA to pick up the bat.

"We were debating, me and him, we were debating about me playing baseball," he recalled.

"Dad, 'I want to go play baseball. I'm thinking about retiring. I wanna go play baseball'. All the things that he was saying­­, 'Do it. Do it.' Because he had got me started in baseball."

Jordan's career in baseball began with the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A minor-league affiliate of the White Sox, in 1994. Jordan was the greatest basketball player on the planet at the time, but he was a relative novice in the baseball world.

His reputation as a global icon, however, had preceded him and expectations were sky-high as he began his first season in professional baseball. Perhaps unjustly, that meant every mistake was magnified and Jordan's progress never quite got the recognition they deserved.

MJ played 127 games for the Barons and batted .202/.289/.266, with three home runs and 30 stolen bases in 48 attempts. He struck out 114 times in 497 plate appearances and tallied 51 walks for a 10.3 percent walk rate.

Understandably, during his lone season with the Barons, Jordan never displayed the kind of dominance NBA fans had become accustomed to associate him with, but his then-manager Terry Francona believes he could have made it to the majors.

"With 1500 at-bats, he would've found a way to get into the major leagues," Francona, who won two World Series as Boston Red Sox manager in 2004 and 2007, said on The Last Dance.

His stance was echoed by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who suggested the criticism Jordan received was largely unwarranted and that the six-time NBA champion would've reached the majors had he persisted with baseball.

"In my opinion, if Michael Jordan had stayed with baseball, he would've gotten to the major leagues," he explained in the documentary.

Fortunately for Reinsdorf, however, Jordan returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and won another three NBA titles with the franchise.

MJ's figures pale in comparison to that of Danny Ainge, another NBA great who played both basketball and baseball.

The current Boston Celtics general manager was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays and made his major leagues debut two years later. In three seasons with the Blue Jays, Ainge played second base, third base and outfield roles and batted .220/.264/.269, before opting to pursue a career in the NBA.

On the other hand, Jordan was clearly making progress after he was sent to the Arizona Fall League during the offseason, where he hit .252 in 120 at-bats.

"He hadn't played since high school, and he was holding his own in Double-A, which is filled with prospects," Barons hitting coach Mike Barnett told ESPN last year.

"By August, those routine fly balls in batting practice were starting to go out. I'm not sure I've ever seen something as beautiful on a baseball field as the time Michael Jordan hit the ball into the gap and raced around to third for a triple.

"Two more seasons, he would've been a legitimate extra outfielder for the White Sox, maybe even a starter."

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan #45 of the Birmingham Barons throws during an August 1994 game against the Memphis Chicks at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. Jim Gund/Getty