OF MJ AND MAGNUM:
Being a Chicagoan for all 48 of my years, I’ve seen a lot of baseball on both sides of town in that time. Some of that “baseball” involves stunts and publicity appearances by people not readily associated with the Cubs or White Sox. The Shirt will study some wearables associated with two such individuals.
MJ: THE BEGINNING:
Although Michael Jordan’s fling in pro baseball involved the 1994 season, his first foray onto an MLB field was a much-ballyhooed 1990 BP session at the original Comiskey Park before a White Sox game. The event was commemorated on a 1991 Upper Deck baseball card (# SP1). For the event, Jordan wore a red home Rawlings BP jersey bearing #23, the same number as then-rookie third sacker Robin Ventura, but likely sized differently. This jersey, to my knowledge, has never surfaced in the hobby, bu if it did, likely would carry 2 or 3 inches extra length (as Rawlings, unlike Majestic, does tag extra length on BP tops) on a size 46 jersey.
MJ: THE ENDING:
Jordan made one appearance on a major league diamond as a player in 1994. In the pre-interleague play era, the Cubs and White Sox held an exhibition game during the season, alternating the location between Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park each year. The 1994 edition was held on April 7, a frigid early spring day at the Cubs’ home. The White Sox wore black alternate jerseys and grey road pants, and, while the rest of the Sox were clad in Russell uniforms that day, MJ wore a Wilson uniform (shirt and pants) decipherable as such by no visible sleeve or pants logos. Russell attire displayed those, as Russell was the contracted uniform supplier for MLB in 1994, but Wilson unies were blank in this regard. Also, for unknown reasons, Jordan’s jersey that day did NOT carry a 125th Anniversary of MLB patch on the right sleeve.
A few Russell-made 1994 jerseys and pants (mainly home and road) of MJ have surfaced in the hobby. These are NOT game used, as Jordan’s 1994 spring training appearances were exclusively in Sox BP jerseys (the Chisox do not wear game jerseys in preseason). They ARE, however, team-issued, as the Sox anticipated a September call-up for MJ when the rosters expanded. That call-up, of course, never took place, as the season-ending strike eliminated all games after mid-August. These should size out at 48 + 2 inches, although a 46 would likely be acceptable, as well. Any smaller, however, and I’d be tempted to reject the piece.
The spring game/BP jerseys the White Sox wore in 1994 were supplied by both Russell and Majestic. Those worn in actual spring training games carried an “inspiration” patch on the left sleeve, a white circle with a black 31 inside. These were worn in spring training only as a tribute to Sox relief pitcher Scott Radinsky, who was battling Hodgkin’s’ Disease at the time, and eventually beat it. Majestic tops would carry only a size, while Russell versions would carry a tail strip tag similar to 1994 Chisox Russell gamers, and would note the extra length Jordan’s 6-foot-6 frame would require.
MAGNUM P.I. IS MR. BASEBALL…
The latter of those two names is the title of a 1992 movie starring Tom Selleck (whose best known TV role is as the former of the two) as a Major League star who is cut by the Yankees and attempts to resurrect his career with a season in Japan, where his heralded arrival by the baseball-crazy Japanese fans is exemplified by being labeled as Mr. Baseball on the other side of the Pacific.
Selleck did a number of promotional appearances to promote the movie, ranging from autograph sessions at Upper Deck-sponsored card shows (Upper Deck also used a scene from the movie for a card in it’s 1992 extended set), to taking BP with several MLB teams, one of which was the Cubs.
His early-September pregame appearances with the Cubs found him in a #48 blue pullover BP jersey, as the number was unused since the early season release of pitcher Dennis Rasmussen. I’m not sure if he wore a Majestic or Russell BP top (the Cubs used both in 1992), but I do know that the Russell versions were year tagged (strip tag in collar) and BP tops from both companies were recycled in following spring training camps for minor leaguers, with NOBs added. The Cubs have sold hundreds of these blue pullover BPs over the years, so the possibility exists that a collector may unknowingly possess a jersey whose Hollywood-related promotional status may dwarf the pro ballplayer status they originally obtained it for.