Michael Jordan's time in the Rocket City

Jordan joined the Southern League in 1994.

Posted: May 14, 2020 11:23 AM

During Sunday's episode of The Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary, the story went south, to Birmingham, to chronical Jordan's time in the Southern League.
A former Huntsville Stars employee remembers Jordan turning Joe Davis Stadium into a mad house, every time Jordan came to town.

When someone turns 23, its commonly called their "Jordan Year."
In baseball, the "Jordan Year" was 1994, when the NBA superstar joined the Southern League after playing basketball for 12 years.
"This was pre-online ticket system, pre Ticketmaster, pre you can go online and order, this was pre cellphones," Former Huntsville stars PR Director, Steve Kornya, said.
Kornya, remembers the day Michael Jordan joined the Birmingham Barons, meaning the world-wide phenom, would play ball in the Rocket City.
"If I wanted to make a phone call out, I had to go use a pay phone, because our phone lines were jammed for five days straight," Kornya said.
The Stars sold 30,0000 tickets on top of season tickets that year.
"No atmosphere like I've seen in a minor league game before or since," Kornya said.
Kornya says Joe Davis Stadium could barely contain the fans who wanted a glimpse of the goat.
"One point they announced Jordan would be playing right field, so the picnic area in Joe Davis Stadium you had crammed in there as much as possible, just to get a glimpse, be close enough." Kornya said. "Turned out he was playing left field, so the entire picnic area got up walked through the stadium to go find seats as best as they could over there."
In Jordan's lone season, he batted .202 with three home runs.
"I don't think anybody wanted to be the guy who gave up the first home run to Michael Jordan," Kornya said.
Not major league worthy, but impressive for someone who hadn't played baseball since high school. Kornya still wonders what would've happened if MJ played one more season.
"Everybody wanted to find the next Bo Jackson, could Michael Jordan have been the next Bo Jackson?."
Kornya said Jordan gave baseball something even Bo Jackson couldn't.
Jordan turned a minor league stadium into one of the biggest stages in sports.
"And that's what I remember," Kornya said. "I think he gave the players that year, especially the guys who weren't going to make it all the way to the show, some idea of what its going to be like, some idea of how the media coverage is going to be like, I think the guys really enjoyed it and I think that was the best part of it."

Jordan's first game in Huntsville was a memorable one, he drove in his first game winning run of the season, a seventh inning double. Stars lost 9-4.

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