Brian Jordan

When healthy, Jordan was a .300-plus hitter, capable of 20 or more dingers and driving in 100 or more runs. But injuries were always a problem for Jordan, who was plagued by leg and back injuries over his first three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Not until the 1995-96 seasons did Jordan reach his potential with 20-plus stolen bases and on-base percentages better than .330.

Hurt once more in 1997, Jordan suffered at the plate, but rebounded again in 1998, when he hit a career-high .316 in the last year of his contract. Looking for hitting to complement their All-Star rotation of Greg MadduxJohn Smoltz, and Tom Glavine, the Atlanta Braves signed Jordan to a five-year, $40 million deal before the 1999 season. He continued his up-and-down ways, generating 115 RBI that year, but slumping in 2000 when arthroscopic surgery on both shoulders forced him to play hurt. In 2001, Jordan returned to form by socking 25 homers, including four in six September games against the New York Mets that knocked the resurgent Amazin’s out of contention.

Some ballplayers thought they were tough because, like Jordan, they played through injuries or because they survived a three-man collision in short right field. Jordan knew he was tough because he played three years at strong safety for the Atlanta Falcons, earning a Pro-Bowl selection as an alternate in 1992. While playing football for the Falcons, Jordan worked a summer job as an outfielder in the Cardinals’ organization and after cracking the majors in 1992 he abandoned football for the warmer, safer pastures of the baseball diamond.