If not for baseball, Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow likely wouldn’t have much in common.
Yes, both were highly popular professional athletes, but Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player ever to take the hardwood. Tebow, a college football legend, didn’t quite pan out as a quarterback in the NFL.
Both did play minor league baseball, though, and had some flashes of success along the way.
Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow each played minor league baseball
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The time eventually came where Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow needed a change of scenery.
Amid the prime of his NBA career, Jordan left the Chicago Bulls in 1993 to join the Chicago White Sox. As for Tebow, he signed with the New York Mets in 2016, over a year after playing his final NFL preseason game.
Neither reached the majors. Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, Chicago’s Double-A team, in 1994. With the MLB strike lingering and delaying the start of the 1995 season, Jordan returned to the Bulls and never looked back.
Tebow spent parts of 2016-19 in the Mets’ minor-league system. The coronavirus pandemic canceled the minor-league season last year, and the Mets didn’t bring Tebow to the team’s alternate site.
Although Tebow intended to play for the Mets this spring, he retired from baseball in February.
Jordan and Tebow each played better than their reputations reflect
Michael Jordan’s only season playing baseball shouldn’t be so quickly called a failure.
Jordan hit .202 with three home runs, 51 RBIs, and stole 30 bases in 48 tries for the Barons in 1994. Remember, Jordan hadn’t played baseball since high school so that he had two hits in every 10 plate appearances against professional pitchers is astounding.
At the same time, Jordan went from his basketball routine to that of baseball’s minor leagues. Jordan traded sports cars and luxurious hotels for bus rides and mediocre facilities.
Tim Tebow had to make similar lifestyle changes when he signed with the Mets in 2016. From 2017-19, Tebow hit .223 with 18 home runs and 107 RBIs. As with Jordan, that Tebow hit over .200 after such a long layoff from baseball is an achievement worth commending.
Tebow’s best season came in 2018 when he hit .273 for Binghamton and totaled six home runs, 36 RBIs, 14 doubles, and a triple in 84 games.
The knock against Tebow was his lack of plate discipline. Tebow reached base at a .299 clip and struck out 327 times in 1,048 plate appearances. Jordan struck out 114 times in 497 plate appearances for the Barons.
Who had the better career: Michael Jordan or Tim Tebow?
For transparency, there are problems when comparing someone who played one season to someone who saw action in parts of four.
There are other issues when comparing and contrasting Michael Jordan’s baseball career to Tim Tebow’s time on the diamond. Tebow’s best season at the Triple-A level came in 2018, when it is believed that the ball was juiced to create more offense.
For argument’s sake, we’re going to give Jordan the nod here. Jordan looked like more of a natural fit in the minors, even at his age. There were reasons to believe he’d improve in 1995 if he returned for another year.
Tebow hit .226 between stints with the Mets’ A+ and A-level teams in 2017, his first full season. Still, the Mets moved Tebow up to Double-A in 2018, a move widely believed to be for publicity reasons.
Tebow, as hard as he tried, did not show enough in 2017 to where beginning the next season at Double-A based on performance would have been deserved.
Both gave it their all, and they should be commended for their efforts. Neither has anything on Deion Sanders, though.