Recalling Michael Jordan’s Baseball Days Against the Chattanooga Lookouts

Chattanooga-(WDEF-TV) We didn’t get the Big Dance this year, but we did get the Last Dance. The documentary series about Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls.
Last weekend the series touched on MJ’s baseball career with the Birmingham Barons back in 1994. Jordan of course visited Chattanooga to face the Lookouts that season. The Voice of the Lookouts Larry Ward, and former News 12 Now Sports Director Kevin Billingsley, recalled Jordan’s time in the Scenic City in this story from 2014.

He was the most famous athlete in the world, and he was coming to Chattanooga. Driving up on a bus. Getting out and playing baseball. The crowds were massive every time Jordan and the Barons faced the Lookouts at Engel stadium.

Said Ward:”It was a total zoo. You have to have extra security. Police escort to get through the crowd.”

Said Billingsley:”They put a temporary fence in the outfield. Engel was so long to hit a home run. Had a giant wall. They put they temporary fence out there just to get more people in. Media from Germany was here. People from all over the world. People don’t understand. This was Michael Jordan. This was a big deal.”

Of course the buzz was even greater when Jordan stepped up to bat.

Said Ward:”Unbelievable. It was like a major league ballpark. The sound in your ears when you were broadcasting.”

Said Billingsley:”I’ve never been around a situation where a guy would get up and strikeout, and still get a standing ovation.”

Jordan of course struggled at the plate, and he probably struggled with the Engel Stadium facilities as well.

Said Ward:”There were four shower heads in the shower. Did he shower by himself? I have no idea. Don’t really care, but it was close quarters back in ’94.”

For Ward and Billingsley, it’s still hard to believe this mega-watt NBA star played baseball in Chattanooga.

Said Billingsley:”The moment for me was before the game, we’re in a minor league park. I’m standing there along third base getting ready to do a live shot. Then he just kind of walks by. At that point, no matter how famous you are, you are still a double-A baseball player, and you’re still sitting in that dugout.”

Said Ward:”It was amazing just to have. It was a historic moment in the Southern League. It was a historic moment in Birmingham Barons baseball. How big of a historic moment is it today? It happened. That’s all I can say.”

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News