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Bo Jackson's Baseball Career Could Have Been Hall of Fame-Worthy Without Injury

1990:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals watches the flight of the ball as he follows through on his swing during a game in the 1990 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

Kevin Walker kept Bo Jackson out of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Walker is the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker who tackled Jackson, then a Los Angeles Raiders running back, during a 1990 NFL playoff game. The tackle resulted in a hip injury for Jackson which he never recovered from.

He's quite possibly the best two-sport athlete of the modern era, and that's why he's the subject of ESPN's newest 30 for 30 documentary "You Don't Know Bo." It's is a great opportunity for a younger generation of sports fans to understand how incredible Jackson was in his prime.

Rarely does an athlete come along who can do the things that Jackson was able to do.

Deion Sanders played both baseball and football, but he was always an average player on the diamond.

Jackson was equally as talented in both sports, but his passion was in baseball. Football was nothing more than a hobby for him.

"You Don't Know Bo" features countless sports personalities and former teammates of Jackson, all of whom deliver superlative after superlative discussing the greatness of Jackson.

One of the things that stands out is how author Chuck Klosterman discusses the baseball career of the former Kansas City Royal.

He went on to say that the numbers alone didn't do justice to everything that Jackson did on the field. His numbers alone don't jump off the page and aren't anything historic.

But fans knew there was something special about Jackson and that he would always be considered one of the best athletes to play the game. That sums up how he should be viewed and explained to those who weren't actually able to watch him.

The numbers, though, do lay claim that had Jackson stayed healthy his entire career, he could have made a very good case of making the Hall of Fame.

In 1990, the season before he picked up the injury, Jackson was entering his prime. The previous season he hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 runs. He was the All-Star Game MVP and finished 10th in the MVP voting.

Profiling very much as simply a slugger offensively, he even managed to hit a career-high .272 in 1990. It's incredibly likely that with as good of shape as he was in, Jackson could have played productively for another seven or eight years.

His supreme athletic ability would have counted for him when it came to Hall of Fame voters. They're a breed that relies heavily on narrative, and the story of Jackson's exploits is second to none when it comes to the feats he could do.

Unfortunately, the narrative of Jackson now is just what he could have done had he not been injured.

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