Some 25 years to the day Kansas City Royals outfielder (and otherworldly athlete from an entirely other dimension) Bo Jackson dazzled a national TV audience with his moonshot leadoff homer in the 1989 All-Star Game, baseball fans still marvel at his roster of career accomplishments.
So on the silver anniversary of the then-26-year-old being named the game’s MVP on July 11, 1989, let’s remember the man/myth/legend who — for an all-too-brief time before a football-induced hip injury dimmed his star — showed the sport what a truly remarkable athlete could achieve. Bo may be best known for his Heisman-winning, 99-yard running, Tecmo Bowl-defying feats on the football field, but his top five baseball moments serve as a reminder that he was a not-to-be-missed talent on the diamond, too.
5. Reaching up and over the Yankee Stadium wall
Jack Clark, one of the original Home Run Derby participants in 1985, still had some pop three years later when he sent this ball toward the seats in left, but Bo had a bead on it the whole way.
4. Bo homers not once, not twice, but thrice
Jackson played only in parts of eight seasons before having to retire at age 31, but even in his prime, his stats were not what you could call eye-popping. (He led the league only once in a given category: strikeouts in 1989.) But he still had plenty of pop, averaging 27 home runs in just 439 at-bats over his four pre-injury years, and could knock out three monster dingers on any given night.
3. Breaking a bat like a toothpick
These days, all a player has to do is break a bat over his knee for it to be compared to Bo. Accept no substitutes, though. The bat must be broken over the helmet, full stop.
2. Defying gravity on the outfield wall
Even better than Jackson’s anti-gravity cleats may be the reaction from Orioles announcer Gary Thorne. He’s downright giddy, as anyone would be seeing this in person.
1. RIP Mike Gallego
Coming back from hip replacement surgery was a huge step on its own merits, but then to retain the natural skill that had made him an icon, well, that was a sight to behold. Now donning a Chicago White Sox uniform, Jackson made clear that though his hips and legs were not what they once were, his throwing arm was still as lethal as ever.
Jackson doesn’t give many interviews these days, but here’s one he did last month with Sportsnet. His time in baseball may have unfairly cut short, but we’ll never forget what we did witness.