Michael Jordan and Ex-MLB Star Terry Francona, Their Unique Bond

Michael Jordan and Terry Francona's surprising connection endures

by Zain ul Abedin
Michael Jordan and Ex-MLB Star Terry Francona, Their Unique Bond
© James Gilbert/Getty Images

Not awards and accolades, but baseball surely earned some lasting connections for Michael Jordan. Basketball's greatest created an indelible bond with the soon-to-be legendary baseball player Terry Francona, who would also represent a central figure in history.

Basketball's win-oriented icon lost his will after his father was brutally murdered in 1993, leading to his mysterious step-down and controversial exit in basketball. Then, came what at that time no one envisaged: the monumental leap to play major league baseball.

It was every dad's dream for their son, though and his lovable dad always dreamt for him. Although Jordan left the NBA, he maintained ties with the league's sphere.He signed with the White Sox, who, of course, were also owned by the owner of the Bulls and entered the Minors.

In 1994, Jordan was part of the White Sox squad that played in the Double-A – the Birmingham Baron's managed by Terry Francona. Their friendship did not end just there, with Jordan leaving baseball.

Francona's Learning Experience

Asked about his 2020 experience playing with Jordan, Francona told ESPN that he wouldn't trade it for the world because it was his "best learning experience." According to Francona, Jordan brought the kind of media attention no one at the Double-A team had ever experienced during his time, with the team usually getting local radio coverage.

"I didn't know it at the time, but it was the best learning experience I could ever be put into," Francona shared. "At the time, I was just trying to survive. But in hindsight, you could not have been placed in a better learning experience.

Their bond grew beyond the baseball field. Francona and Jordan often played golf together, transitioning from public courses to prestigious country clubs. During a recent appearance at Newport Marriott, Francona reminisced about their golf outings, highlighting how they played at elite courses like TPC Sawgrass.

“There wasn’t a course we didn’t play,” Francona said, recalling the spontaneity of their tee times with Jordan's influence. Despite Francona’s belief that Jordan could have secured an MLB spot in three years, Jordan's baseball performance was less than stellar.

In 121 games with Birmingham, he had a .202 batting average, 51 RBIs, and three home runs. The 1994 season was cut short, leading Jordan back to the NBA and his former team, the Chicago Bulls. However, this transition did not end his connection with Francona.

Years later, Francona attended one of Jordan’s NBA games against the Indiana Pacers. Although he didn’t ask for tickets, a security guard informed Francona that Jordan wanted to see him in the locker room. Francona was hesitant but eventually went and received a warm, albeit sweaty, hug from Jordan.

They even placed a bet on Jordan scoring 20 points in the second half, which Jordan won, forcing Francona to visit an ATM after the game. This moment epitomized their lasting friendship and mutual respect.

Michael Jordan