The 1991 Upper Deck Michael Jordan baseball card can be a confusing beast.

Now, that idea might ring hollow to you, given that everything seems fine — or even great! — with this hobby classic.

I mean, here we have Jordan taking batting practice, wearing a Chicago White Sox uniform.

Lookie here …

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And even the most casual fan of 1990s baseball or basketball can tell you that Jordan did indeed play pro baseball for the White Sox during his breather from basketball.

Or … at least in the White Sox system.

So that’s what we see here, right? His Airness taking an earnest shot at a “new” professional sport after securing his legend on the hardwood?


Totally not, that is.

A quick look at Jordan’s baseball stats, or his basketball stats, shows a different story.

In particular, Jordan’s lone summer with the White Sox (actually, with the Birmingham Barons) came in 1994.

And, in 1990, when this picture was ostensibly taken, or in 1991, when the card was issued?

Yeah, Jordan was on the cusp of leading the Chicago Bulls to the first leg of their first threepeat. No way would he have subjected himself to a 100-plus-game grind in the midst of gearing up for NBA history.

But, he might have allowed himself a bit of fun, a sunny day at the ballpark, hitting a few balls. Plenty of pro athletes spend their off time on golf courses doing the same, after all, so why couldn’t Jordan trade his club for a bat once in awhile?

And, in fact, that’s exactly what happened (in July of 1990), as the back of his baseball “rookie card” explains:

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Just an average day at the ballpark — drill some upper deck shots, pose for a poster, thrill fans, feed an upcoming hobby phenomenon, predict the future, seed some confusion.

From that day forward, and especially the next year when this card was issued, fans and collectors were left to wonder … what if?

Ah, but the unthinkable could never happen. Right?

The greatest basketball player in the land would never walk away from the game to try and prove himself in another athletic field of endeavor. Would he?

The pull of baseball wasn’t that strong. Was it?

Wrong. He would. It was.

And, though Jordan’s dalliance with the curveball proved to be a challenge, his single Double-A season was more than enough to make “Michael Jordan baseball card” a legitimate thing.

“Michael Jordan rookie card” is a thing from a baseball perspective, even though this 1991 Upper Deck beauty doesn’t strictly fit most definitions. After all, Jordan was not a professional baseball player at that point.

He had no contract with the White Sox.

He had played no pro games, and had no prospects of doing so (that we knew of, anyway).

This was no more a Michael Jordan rookie card than the 1982 Fleer Pete & Re-Pete was a Pete Rose, Jr., rookie card.

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It’s all pretty confusing.

Except, you know …

That 1991 Upper Deck #SP1 is totally a Michael Jordan rookie card.

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Want to know which Michael Jordan baseball cards are causing the most noise in the hobby? Check out our YouTube video about the top-selling MJ diamond cards on eBay:

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End Date: Friday 03/08/2024 10:10:48 EST
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