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February 17, 2013
Tater Trot Tracker
A Birthday Treat: Michael Jordan's Tater Trot
Today is Michael Jordan's 50th birthday. In honor of such a major milestone in the life of one of the 20th century's most fascinating athletes, here is a reprint of a Tater Trot Tracker post originally published in 2010.
Michael Jordan's minor-league baseball career in the summer of 1994 was not all that productive, especially when you consider that Jordan retired from being the greatest basketball player ever only to struggle mightily in Double-A. In 127 games, Jordan received 497 plate appearances. In that extensive action, he batted .202/.289/.266, with 17 doubles, one triple, 30 stolen bases (and 18 caught stealings), and 114 strikeouts. He also managed to hit three home runs.
His first career home run came in the eighth inning on July 30, 1994, against the Carolina Mudcats' Kevin Rychel. It was a solo home run that went over the left-field fence. Here's the video:
That trot feels kind of slow, doesn't it? Here's what I can tell you:
There was no official video of Jordan's home run, as the network and stadium crews had already gone home for the night. The video we see is a compilation of a number of personal videos shot from the stands, edited and spliced together. It's obvious that whoever did the splicing did an excellent job, as it feels completely fluid. There are, however, one or two spots in the video where it's hard to tell if it was a perfect edit or not. If it wasn't, then we are seeing either a slightly longer or slightly shorter version of the actual trot.
Assuming that the video splicing is right on, Michael Jordan's home run trot took 25.1 seconds. With the average trot in the major leagues at almost exactly 22 seconds, that is undoubtedly a slow trot. When you couple it with Jordan's tall, wiry, speedy physique, it feels even slower (guys who look fast somehow manage to feel slower than they're actually moving). As a comparison, here's video of the home run with the closest trot time hit in the major leagues this year - it was hit by Vladimir Guerrero.
But who knows if that's what Jordan's average trot looks like. It was, after all, his first career home run and he hit it only one year and one week after the death of his father, whose birthday was the following day (July 31). That's a pretty emotional situation to be in. Jordan hit two more home runs before the end of the season, but I can't find any video of them. If someone does know where footage of those two are, it'd be great to see it. Three trots are what I use to determine a player's average trot time, after all.
In the meantime, enjoy Michael Jordan's first ever career home run, complete with Vlad Guerrero-esque tater trot!