updated 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
In contrast to legions of skeptical sportswriters and baseball people, most at the party—a benefit for the Night Ministry, a Chicago group that helps homeless teenagers—seemed to think he'd make it. "Mike is skinny. If you're skinny, you can be a good baseball player," joked Darryl Bell, a former costar of A Different World.
Jordan, whose actual birthday is Feb. 17, is set to attend spring training later this month in Sarasota, Fla., then join the White Sox's AAA team, the Nashville Sounds. Inspiration for his decision, he says, came from his father, James "Pops" Jordan, who was found murdered seven months ago in North Carolina. "He and I talked about playing professional baseball, and I'm going to do that no matter what people say about me," said Jordan with a tear rolling down his cheek. "He's watching me. I know he is. And I know he's really proud of what I'm trying to achieve."