Yesterday marked the 22nd anniversary of Bo Jackson's NFL career-ending hip injury. Bo Jackson is one of my favorite athletes of all time. He dominated everything a 10-year-old would care about. The Raiders became my football team because of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl. One of my favorite baseball cards was the Bo Jackson Football/Baseball card that Score put out in 1990. He had the hottest shoes this side of Michael Jordan. Even when he struck out, it was exciting. Lets not forget his famous Nike ad campaign.
Jackson wasn't just hype, though. He produced. I could tell you what an amazing combination of strength and power he was, but my words wouldn't do him justice. Just take a look at some of his amazing runs for the Raiders. His 5.4 yards per carry is currently the third highest for a running back all-time. He also was a college football hero as he won the Heisman Trophy in 1985.
Bo was also very good on the baseball field. He started out a little raw, but was improving for the Royals each year up until his injury. His batting average, OPS and OPS+ went up every season he played in a Kansas City uniform. He also had the knack for the highlight reel. Here are some of his Royals highlights with stars from the era (including Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura) sharing stories about Jackson.
After Jackson's hip injury, the Royals cut him loose on March 18 thinking that his career would be over. On April 3, the White Sox decided to sign him. Jackson would make a heroic comeback on September 2nd and drove in a run against the Royals. On Sept. 17, Jackson hit his first Sox homer.
Jackson underwent hip replacement surgery and missed all of the 1992 season, but came back with a vengeance on opening day in 1993 when he took Neal Heaton deep on his first at bat. The second homer in that video was the dinger that Bo hit to help the White Sox clinch the A.L. West in 1993. Unfortunately, Jackson went 0-10 in the playoffs that season and signed with the Angels after the year. He played one season in Anaheim before he called it quits during the strike.
While Jackson ended up with a productive big league career (his top comp on Baseball-Reference.com is Carlos Quentin), you always have to wonder what would have been. If he didn't get injured 22 years ago, Jackson might have been the only player inducted into both the football and baseball halls of fame. The sad thing about it is we will never know.