It is hard to believe it has been 25 years since the Kansas City Royals own Bo Jackson won the 1989 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award for his big performance in the Summer Classic that season.
Bo Jackson, of course, was that incredible shooting star that blazed across our sports consciousness in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He won the 1985 Heisman Trophy for the Auburn Tigers, spurned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 NFL Draft when they selected him first overall.
He then shocked the world by signing with the Kansas City Royals after they selected him in the 4th round of the 1986 draft.
Jackson was on of the most phenomenal athletes of all time, excelling at the highest levels of two professional sports, appearing in both the MLB All-Star game, and the NFL Pro Bowl with an eight-month span.
His Nike “Bo Knows” ads were iconic for the age. His highlight reels for both sports are eye-popping. He was the most exciting player, in two sports, many will ever see.
Bo Jackson played parts of 5 season with Kansas City, from 1986-1990. For the Royals his slash was .250/.308/.480/.787 – certainly not legendary stuff. He did hit 109 home runs, scored 278 times, drove in 313 runs, laced 86 doubles, and 14 triples, all in 511 games, and 2010 plate appearances.
1989 was his best season as a baseball player. His slash that year was good – .256/.310/.495/.805. He had 32 homers and 105 RBI. He had 26 steals and 172 strikeouts. And he started the 1989 All-Star game.
Bo, despite his enormous power, was chose to lead off for the American League. Jackson, who always did have a flair for the dramatic, blasted a home run off the NL starter, Rick Reuschel.
Bonus points if you remember what happened next. Wade Boggs, batting second, drilled a long ball of his own, and the American League was up 2-0.
Bo Jackson ended up going 2-4 in the game, with a run scored, 2 RBI, a HR, and a SB, and was named the game’s MVP when the AL won 5-3. Jackson’s teammate Mark Gubicza pitched a perfect inning int he game as well.
Jackson famously decided to play football for the Raiders when he was drafted in 7th round in 1987. He put up some crazy good numbers in his 4 partial seasons. Bo only played for the Raiders after the season was over for the Royals.
In his 4 seasons with the Raiders, he averaged 5.4 yards a carry and scored 16 touchdowns. In three of his four seasons, he had the longest runs of the year in the NFL – 91 yards in 1987, 92 yards in 1989, and 88 yards in 1990.
Jackson blew out his hip on an awkward play on December 30, 1990. He would never don the helmet and pads again.
The Royals released Jackson in the spring of 1991. It didn’t look like Bo would ever play again, but he came back and played in 23 games in the September of 1991 for the Chicago White Sox. He hit 3 home runs but was relatively ineffective.
He sat out all of 1992, but made another comeback in 1993, still with Chicago. He played in 85 games and blasted 16 homers. He finished his career with the Angels, hitting 13 home runs in 75 games in 1994.
For those of us who got to watch him play everyday, it is hard to describe some of the things he did on both the baseball and football fields. He was bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else on the playing field. He could do more unusual things than anyone else. People watched the games just to see Bo Jackson.
There may never be another athlete like Bo Jackson again. It is one of the great what ifs in sports history. What if Bo Jackson didn’t get hurt in that game in 1990. What if…
Enjoy these highlights. Pay special attention to the incredible throw he made flat-footed from the warning track to home plate, on the fly, to nail the speedy Harold Reynolds.