Jordan, White Sox, & ESPN2: Chicago Tribune headlines from 1993

This week’s headlines from sports history come from the Chicago Tribune, as published the week of September 30-October 6, 1993.

Location: Chicago

The Chicago Tribune is an American newspaper that formerly dubbed itself the “World’s Greatest Newspaper”. It began printing in 1847 and is still published today.

In 1993, Bill Clinton became the US president and the European Union was officially established via the Maastricht Treaty. At movie theaters, viewers took in Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Sandlot. In the sports world, the Buffalo Bills lost their fourth straight Super Bowl and the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins both played their inaugural MLB seasons.

Here is a sampling of sports headlines the Tribune published this week in 1993:

“ESPN2 off the launching pad”

Publication Date: Sunday, October 3

Launched on October 1, 1993, ESPN2 was aimed at a younger audience than its 14-year-old bigger brother ESPN. The new station featured an array of content, highlighted by the Keith Olbermann-hosted SportsNight. That show itself interested Chicagoans because a segment was hosted by the Windy City-born Stuart Scott.

The article discussed Scott’s role at the young network, as well as ESPN’s plan to develop talent on ESPN2. Scott’s segment, called “sportsmash”, was a fast-paced highlight package.

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Scott later became one of ESPN’s most recognizable anchors, and he regularly hosted SportsCenter post-ESPN2 graduation. After a near-decade battle with cancer, Scott passed away on January 4, 2015 at the age of 46.

As for ESPN2, the station moved away from its youthful demeanor by the end of the 1990s. It now provides a secondary home for mainstream sports coverage that won’t fit on ESPN due to scheduling constraints.

“Butler, defense lift Bears”

Publication Date: Monday, October 4
This image of Steve McMichael sacking Falcons QB Bobby Hebert ran alongside the article.

This was coverage of the Chicago Bears’ 6-0 home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The only points on the day were a pair of field goals by Kyle Butler, who won the 1986 Super Bowl with the Bears as a rookie. Butler’s kicks from 48 and 52 yards out came in the middle two quarters.

The biggest Chicago stand took place at the end of the game when the defense forced a turnover on downs at their own 8-yard line. It was the first Bears shutout since a 27-0 win over Tampa Bay in December 1991.

The win meant that Chicago bolstered its record to 2-2, a half game back of the NFC Central-leading Detroit Lions. However, the Bears faltered down the stretch and wound up out of the playoffs with a 7-9 mark. Atlanta, meanwhile, finished 6-10.

“Jordan to retire from basketball”

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 6

On October 6, the Tribune ran the shocking story that Michael Jordan would retire from the Bulls and basketball. Jordan, a nine-year NBA veteran, had completed a three-peat with the Bulls by winning the 1993 championship. However, reportedly sparked by his father’s violent death the previous summer and worn-down body, Jordan needed a break from the toll of professional basketball.

While the 30-year-old Jordan didn’t comment on the initial report, a paraphrased quote from his camp did make the press: “I know some people will be shocked by the news… I’m at peace with myself.”

According to the Tribune, fans across Chicago circulated rumors and “sketchy accounts”, with some crying outside Jordan’s downtown restaurant. Others refused to believe that the superstar was stepping down from his post.

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The Bulls and Jordan would officially announce his retirement during a press conference that Wednesday. The announcement came one month before the start of the 1993-94 NBA season.

In the years that have followed, some have speculated that Jordan’s retirement wasn’t all his choice. A popular theory is that Jordan was instead secretly suspended by NBA commissioner David Stern. The star had a history of gambling problems and there is the possibility that he placed bets on sporting events while in the NBA. However, the idea of a “secret suspension” is still an unproven suspicion.

Jordan next played minor league baseball in the Chicago White Sox’s farm system. After baseball was more or less a failed experiment, Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995 and helped guide the team to its second three-peat. He later retired again in 1998 before returning once more to the NBA in 2001 to spend two seasons with the Washington Wizards.

“A cold joyless night for White Sox, Bulls fans”

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 6
This image of Jordan and Ron Korkovice after Game 1’s opening pitch ran on the Tribune’s front sports page.

The 1993 American League Championship Series got underway the same day the Tribune unearthed Jordan’s decision to retire. The series featured Toronto, the AL East pennant winners and defending World Series champs, and the Chicago White Sox, who had gone 94-68 to win the AL West. It was the first time in 10 years the White Sox reached the postseason.

In Game 1, the Blue Jays beat the hosting White Sox 7-3. Chicago pitcher Jack McDowell gave up a then-playoff record 13 hits in 6⅔ innings of work. All seven of Toronto’s runs were two-out scores off McDowell.

The article noted that rumors of Jordan’s retirement spread throughout the ballpark over the course of the game. It also covered how former White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk was thrown out of the team’s clubhouse before the game. Fisk, who backstopped Chicago from 1981 through June 1993, managed to get into Comisky Park without tickets or credentials. He apparently hoped to wish his former teammates good luck, but a White Sox staffer asked the future Hall of Famer to leave before he reached anyone on the team.

Toronto ultimately won the series in six games and then took the same number of games to beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Chicago wouldn’t reach the playoffs again until 2000, but later won the World Series in 2005.

In an interesting twist, Jordan threw out the ceremonial first pitch that night at Comisky Park. During the game, he refused to comment on the rumors about his retirement.

Headlines for this article were sourced from