Who Is the Better Baseball Player: John Elway or Michael Jordan?

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2010

John Elway and Michael Jordan both played minor league baseball. Elway played before his NFL career and Jordan played in the middle of his NBA career.

It is evident that John Elway made the right choice when he decided to pursue a career in pro football even though he had played well in his one minor league season. He was good enough in both sports to pursue a career but he made the right decision to play only one sport since baseball and football seasons were being played at the same time.

Unlike Deion Sanders who did play both sports, it would have been next to impossible for Elway, the quarterback of the Broncos, to miss practice during the week to play football one day a week.

On the other hand, Michael Jordan was not much of a hitter or a fielder in his one minor league season in the middle of his highly successful NBA career. He didn’t hit for average or power but did exhibit speed on the base paths but was caught stealing too often. If he had played another year Jordan may have developed into a better baseball player, but instead he returned to the NBA where he could earn much more money and led the Bulls to their second three-peat.

John Elway played professional baseball only one year before signing with the Denver Broncos and leading the Broncos to back to back Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998.

Michael Jordan had already played nine NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls when he announced his retirement after the death of his father in a senseless interstate rest area murder. He then decided to play baseball in memory of his father who had dreamed of his son being a professional baseball player.

The Bulls had already won three consecutive NBA championships with Jordan before he left the team to play baseball in 1994.


The stats of Elway and Jordan in their one minor league season:



The stats of Elway and Jordan show that Elway was a much better baseball player than Jordan with Elway hitting .318 in his only minor league season while stealing 13 bases in 16 attempts.

Elway had a .432 on base percentage, slugged .464 and an OPS of .896. Elway never made an error in the outfield in 77 chances and had eight assists in only 42 games.

Jordan on the other hand hit only .202, had an on base percentage of .289 and slugged .266 with a .566 OPS. Jordan stole a lot of bases with 30 but was caught stealing 18 times.

He was not much of an outfielder having made 11 errors in his only minor league season in 230 chances and had two less assists (6) than Elway in 77 more games.

In summation, it is easy to understand why Elway chose football over baseball and Jordan returned to the NBA after playing minor league baseball.

Athletes like to dominate in one sport rather than excel in one and be average in the other, with the exception of Elway who played well in his only season as a professional baseball player but he played A ball while Michael Jordan played AA ball.

Jordan may have done well considering he probably had not played on any baseball team for years and was only two steps from majors in his only season. It may have been too much too soon for him.