Framework

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Michael Jordan, playing right field, drops fly ball hit toward him during Chicago White Sox's Intrasquad game in Sarasota, Fla.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Chicago White Sox players, including Michael Jordan, during the playing of the National Anthem before the intrasquad game.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Michael Jordan takes the field for the first time during Chicago White Sox's Intrasquad game.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

In three at-bats Michael Jordan struck out twice, but was robbed of a hit by Warren Newson's diving catch of a liner to left-center field.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Michael Jordon in dugout during Chicago White Sox intrasquad game.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

After the Chicago White Sox intrasquad game, Michael Jordan walks with umpire, who's holding a baseball for Jordan to autograph.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

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Spring training for Michael Jordan

March 3, 1994: The tongue, as usual, is out of the mouth, as Michael Jordan drops a fly ball hit to him during Chicago White Sox’s intrasquad game at Sarasota, Fla. This game was Jordan’s first after retiring from the NBA and trying out for the Chicago White Sox baseball team.

The next day, Los Angeles Times staff writer Maryann Hudson reported on Jordan’s first game:

Had this been the debut of any other minor league player, it would have passed unremembered. Most would try to forget.

Michael Jordan went hitless in three at-bats against virtual minor league pitchers Thursday, striking out twice in the Chicago White Sox’s intrasquad game.

He nearly got a hit his first up when he lined a fastball to left-center field against the best pitcher he faced, right-hander James Baldwin, but was robbed by Warren Newson’s diving catch.

Still, if the crowd of 1,736 at Ed Smith Stadium remembers anything about Jordan’s performance, it won’t be his near hit, it will be his near catch. Jordan dropped a fly ball to short right field that scored the go-ahead run…

White Sox Manager Gene Lamont said it’s too early to tell about Jordan. ” The ball he hit today was probably was the hardest one we hit,” Lamont said. “He’s improved a great deal, he’s working hard at it and that’s why our players have accepted him. We will just have to see.”

Current Los Angeles Times sports photo editor George Wilhelm in 1994 was in Vero Beach, Fla., covering the Dodgers spring training. Wilhelm reports:

When I got word that Michael Jordan was going to play in his first game at spring training – even though it was an intrasquad game – I figured it was going to be a small slice of history.

Early in the morning I drove from Vero Beach to the White Sox training facility in Sarasota.

Jordan  started the game and lined out during his first at bat. Then on ball bit to him in right field, he dropped – tongue wagging – for an error, which is the picture that ran the next day on the cover of sports.

After the game, while walking out of the stadium, one of the umpires asked Jordan to autograph a ball for him.

The above six-photo gallery features images taken by Wilhelm during Jordan’s first spring baseball game. All the frames were recently scanned from the original color negatives in the L.A. Times library.

Jordan played the 1994 season with the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox minor league team, batting 202.  In March, 1995, he rejoined the Chicago Bulls.

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