Sandy Alderson’s Tim Tebow signing as Mets general manager was deemed by some as purely a publicity stunt. But that doesn’t come close to another move Alderson tried to make that didn’t come to fruition.
With Michael Jordan a constant topic these days as ESPN airs “The Last Dance” documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, Alderson revealed on Buster Olney’s “Baseball Tonight” podcast that he offered Jordan a spot on the Oakland Athletics’ major league roster before Jordan joined the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox minor league team, for the 1994 season.
“When Jordan stopped playing basketball and decided to try baseball and ultimately went down to the Birmingham Barons, the Chicago White Sox affiliate, when I heard that was happening or about to happen, I called his agent right away and said, ‘Hey, look, I understand he may be going to Double-A.’ I said, ‘Look, I don’t even know who the 25th man is on our major league team right now. I will sign him and put him on the major league roster. He’d be part of our 25-man team tomorrow,’” said Alderson, who spent 17 years as an executive with the A’s, for whom he’s now a senior adviser.
“And I know this ended up creating some discussion because I ended up getting either a phone call or a message from the White Sox saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on here? This guy is gonna be part of the White Sox organization.’ There’s a relationship between the White Sox and the Bulls, but in any event, somebody accused me of tampering. The guy’s a basketball player. But anyway, that’s one that got away. It would’ve been fun.”
Alderson said he’s sure Jordan would’ve played because the Athletics “were going nowhere at the time.” Jordan’s agent David Falk confirmed Alderson’s offer to MLB.com. Jerry Reinsdorf owned — and still owns — both the Bulls and White Sox.
“I was excited about [the offer], and Michael was very appreciative,” Falk said. “But he wanted to do the baseball thing from the ground up. He didn’t feel he deserved a spot on the Major League roster and didn’t feel he was ready. He didn’t want to be a Herb Washington type who would just steal bases and be a part-time outfielder.”
Alderson, 72, drew a parallel between Jordan’s situation and the 2016 addition of Tebow, who has risen and plateaued at the Triple-A level for the Mets.
“There was a part of the Michael Jordan history in that Tim Tebow signing,” Alderson said. “I also thought that Tim, that there would be other benefits to the organization from Tim Tebow being involved, and I don’t think I’ve been disappointed. He’s been a terrific ambassador for the Mets and for baseball. Notwithstanding a bunch of criticism at the time and to some extent that still exists, but Tim I thought had a more legitimate potential over time because he was committed to the sport as opposed to maybe it simply being a distraction from something else.
“One of the great things about baseball that we all have to keep in mind is it’s entertainment. It’s a game. Let’s not get too carried away. Let’s not be super serious here and take ourselves too seriously.
He sure was serious about his Jordan pursuit.