Bo Jackson was a highlight machine in multiple sports. Unfortunately, injuries kept him from putting together the NFL and MLB careers he could have had.
Still, it's safe to say that "Bo Knows" how much people loved watching him put the pads on or step onto a Major League Baseball field. One of those iconic moments that made Bo such a legend? It came in the 1989 MLB All-Star Game, when he hit a home run that took a U.S. President's breath away.
It's still one of the best moments in All-Star Game history.
Bo Jackson's Hip Injury Steered Him to Baseball
Before we get to the memorable moment in question, we want to give a quick overview of Bo's career. It can't do it justice, but it will give you some context.
After becoming a three-sport star in high school (he also dominated the decathlon) Jackson attended Auburn University (shunning a chance to sign with the New York Yankees), where he continued to play football as a running back and baseball as an outfielder. Football was his claim to fame, as he won the Heisman Trophy for the Tigers in 1985 after rushing for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Jackson was the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 NFL Draft but refused to sign with them. Eventually, he ended up with the Los Angeles Raiders, but by that point he had already signed with the Kansas City Royals and gone through a brief spell in the minor leagues.
Unfortunately, Jackson suffered a severe hip injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991. It ended his NFL career on the spot, but Bo was able to continue to play baseball. He spent a few seasons with the Chicago White Sox and one with the California Angels, but he never played a full campaign before ending his baseball career in 1994.
In his career, Jackson made one Pro Bowl, had one iconic Nike campaign and also made baseball's 1989 Midsummer Classic. That's where the rest of this story unfolds.
Bo Jackson's 1989 All-Star Game Home Run
As a superstar and a huge name, Jackson was unsurprisingly voted to start for the American League representing the Royals.
In the top of the first inning, Jackson made his first splash, but it was with his glove. Pedro Guerrero smashed a line drive into the gap between left field and center field, but Bo used his speed and athleticism as a fielder to make the play, retiring the National League in the first.
Jackson then led off the bottom of the first as the first hitter for the American League. In his first at-bat in an All-Star Game, Jackson faced off with San Francisco's Rick Reuschel. Bo didn't waste a moment in making an impact. Jackson blasted a home run that traveled 448 feet.
"I thought the ball sounded like it was hit like a golf ball," NL manager Tommy Lasorda recalled to ESPN. "That thing went way out to deep center field, like it was shot out of a cannon."
The game was being called by the legendary Vin Scully, who also happened to be joined in the booth at the time by none other than former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was just out of the office, making for a somewhat strange viewing experience.
"He's remarkable, and look at that one! Bo Jackson says hello!" Scully said, cutting off a president who was just gushing over the two-sport star.
Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox followed up with a homer of his own, making All-Star Game history with back-to-back home runs to open the inning. Later, Jackson would add another RBI and a stolen base that day in Anaheim, and Bo was named the All-Star Game MVP in his only All-Star appearance.
Today In 1989: Boston #RedSox star Wade Boggs follows Bo Jackson's leadoff HR with his own HR vs. Rick Reuschel in the first inning of the All-Star Game in Anaheim! (Former President Reagan joins Vin Scully for the classic call!) #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/pEzM0wfJNj
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) July 11, 2021
Jackson never got a chance to play in a Super Bowl or World Series. He may have felt at home in the modern era as he racked up a lot of homers but also a lot of strikeouts. While his college football career earned him a deserving spot in the College Football Hall of Fame, he didn't rack up a ton of numbers as a professional. What he did, though, was capture a ton of imaginations.
Being able to play two sports professionally is truly incredible. Injuries hampered Bo's career, but it didn't stop him from providing us a bunch of highlights. That includes the first time he stepped up to the plate in his only MLB All-Star Game.
Even Ronald Reagan couldn't help but be floored.
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