The Adorable Story of Playing Wiffle Ball with Michael Jordan as Told By A 9 Year Old
Yesterday, we talked to my first boss in radio, Mike Justin, about the time Michael Jordan came to town and played a charity game with the station. I didn't play because I volunteered to cover the station while everyone was playing the game.
After he hung up, he sent me the story his now 41-year-old nephew wrote and illustrated at 9 years old about when Mike brought Jordan to their house. Check out Looking Back by Adam DeSutter:
When I was 6 years old, I got to do something I wish I could do now that I'm nine. Sometimes when something happens, grownups say things like "You'll understand this better when you get older." I never really understood why they said that. Now that I'm nine years old, I wish I could have the same experience I had when I was six.
My uncle works for a radio station in Bloomington, Illinois. Once when he visited our house, he noticed all the Michael Jordan stuff all over my brother's room. There were posters, a North Carolina basketball hoop and ball, pictures, and the new red, white, and black Michael Jordan basketball shoes my brother had just gotten. All this stuff helped give him the idea of trying to get Michael Jordan to come to Bloomington for a special basketball game. I don't really know how he did it, but he did, and he invited us to come.
One Saturday my Mom, two brothers, and I got up early and drove to my uncle's house in Bloomington, Illinois. My brothers seemed to be more excited about this than me. I guess they knew more about what we were going to get to do than I did. All I knew was that we were going to go to a basketball game. It wasn't going to be a regular college or high school game, but some kind of special game to get money for Special Olympics and Illinois State's new basketball gym. It wasn't really the game that excited my brothers, but who was going to play in the game. It was Michael Jordan, and we were going to meet him.
When we got to my uncle's house and were getting out of the car, Michael Jordan walked out the back door of the house. We were all very surprised because we didn't know he would be there. My brothers were speechless, and I remember saying, "It's really Michael Jordan". My uncle introduced me, and I shook his hand. He seemed very tall and very big to me. I was excited now that I got to meet him, even though I didn't really understand then how famous he was.
We talked about sports, and he asked us what we liked to play. I told him I liked baseball, and asked him to play a game of wiffle ball with me. We went out to the backyard, and he pitched to me. I hit the ball over the fence for a homerun. I remember that he said, "That kid's going to be an athlete." That made me feel happy, and that's the thing I really still remember the most. Another thing I remember is that once when he was pitching, I hit the ball and it hit him in the head. I didn't know what to do, so I just smiled at him and he smiled back.
We also watched him play tennis with my uncle. We were surprised that my uncle won. But I think that Michael Jordan was just being nice, and let my uncle win. When my Aunt acted surprised that my uncle won the tennis game, Michael Jordan said "I had to let him win. I'm a visitor in his house." We also watched his former college, the North Carolina Tarheels, play a football game on TV. All together, we spent about two hours with him at my uncle's house. Before he had to leave for the basketball game, he autographed two Sports Illustrated magazines that had him on the cover, my brother's North Carolina Tarheel's basketball, a Bull's pennant, and my brother's Air Jordan basketball shoes.
That night at the basketball game, Michael Jordan played on the team from my uncle's radio station. They played against a team of former Illinois State basketball players. The radio station team wasn't very good. But since Michael Jordan was playing with them, they won. He scored 70 points and had 20 rebounds. Once he shot a free throw with his eyes closed and his tongue out. It was an airball. My uncle was announcing and said, "Air ball by Air Jordan." Michael Jordan looked at him and started to laugh. The final score was 99-92.
I still think about that day when I met Michael Jordan. Since then he has become my favorite sport's player. Now that I understand more about basketball, and am able to read better, I enjoy watching him play for the Bulls and enjoy reading about him in the newspaper. He's not only a great athlete, but he's also a good person. I'm glad that I got to meet him, and will always remember that day. I hope that I get to meet him again some day. He may be a great NBA star, but he was very nice to me.
We got Adam on the phone for a retelling of the story.