The most recent broadcast of the ESPN documentary, “The Last Dance,’’ broached the subject of Michael Jordan’s first retirement from the NBA to pursue a career in professional baseball.
In 1994, Jordan was an outfielder with the Birmingham (Alabama) Barons — he made his debut with the club on April 8, and after playing in the Arizona Fall League later that year for the Scottsdale Scorpions, he returned to the Barons, the Class AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, and made his last appearance for the club on March 10, 1995.
The Chattanooga (Tennessee) Lookouts, the Class AA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, were a Southern League rival of the Barons. In 1994, former Ferrum College All-American Eric Owens was with the Lookouts after spending the previous year in the Class A (Advanced) Carolina League with the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Spirits.
Owens played in 134 games for the Lookouts (67-73), who finished fourth in the five-team West Division of the Southern League — 15 games out of first place and 1 1/2 games ahead of the last-place Barons, who were 66-74.
Owens batted .254 with 133 hits, including 17 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 36 RBIs. He stole 38 bases in 52 attempts and scored 73 runs.
Jordan batted .202 with 17 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 51 RBIs.
One of Jordan’s home runs came against the Lookouts.
Terry Francona was Jordan’s manager, while Owens played for Pat Kelly.
Chattanooga made the playoffs in 1994 and lost to Huntsville (Ala.) Stars, 3-0.
Huntsville, the Oakland A’s Class AA affiliate at the time, defeated the Carolina Mudcats, 3-1, for the championship.
The 10-part documentary concludes Sunday night.
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The Class A (Advanced) Carolina League has postponed its 2020 All-Star Game, which was set to be staged in Lynchburg, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hillcats, one of two area teams that compete in the league, were the designated host team for the Tuesday, June 23 contest.
Lynchburg last hosted the All-Star Game at Bank of the James Stadium (formerly City Stadium)/Calvin Falwell Field in 1995.
“The decision to cancel the All-Star Game was tough, but we are committed to the safety of our players and fans first and foremost,’’ Lynchburg President Chris Jones said in a published report.
“We want to thank the Lynchburg community, especially the Central Virginia Sports Commission for supporting what would have been our first All-Star Game since 1995,’’ Jones said.
“The Hillcats still have a positive outlook that we will have a jam-packed schedule this season that fans can enjoy in a healthy way,’’ Jones said.