Brian Jordan (Trading Card DB)

Brian Jordan

This article was written by Douglas Jordan

Brian Jordan (Trading Card DB)Brian Jordan is one of seven men who have played major-league baseball and NFL football since 1970.1 Although Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are better known for having accomplished the feat, Jordan’s 1,456 MLB games played are the most by any NFL player. In addition, Jordan played outstanding outfield defense. His career mark of 163 Total Zone Runs as an outfielder is the seventh-best all time. Jordan was an All-Star for the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and made his only World Series appearance in the Braves’ loss to the Yankees that year. After retiring from baseball in 2006, Jordan earned an Emmy Award for his work as an analyst for Fox Sports South.2 Virginia, Georgia, and Missouri have inducted Jordan into their state Halls of Fame.3

Brian O’Neal Jordan was born on March 29, 1967, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the third child (twin siblings Deric and Felicia are two years older) of Alvin and Betty (née Graves) Jordan.4 Alvin, who worked in a steel mill, and Betty, a teacher, instilled a strong moral code and work ethic in all three children. They provided an excellent environment for the children. Jordan would later say, “I had a great childhood. A learning childhood. A loving childhood. It makes me appreciate my parents. I owe them everything.”5

Jordan starred in football and baseball at Milford Mill Academy High School in Baltimore. He was talented enough that the Cleveland Indians took him in the 20th round of the 1985 draft before he graduated from Milford Mill. But Jordan’s mother, who believed in the importance of education (all three of her children earned college degrees), insisted that Jordan should graduate from college before he pursued a professional sports career. The University of Maryland recruited Jordan for both sports, but the football program wouldn’t allow him to play baseball as a freshman. Jordan matriculated at the University of Richmond instead so he could follow his dream of being a two-sport athlete.6

Jordan’s stellar play for Richmond caught the attention of NFL and MLB scouts. He was drafted by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills (seventh round of the 1989 draft) and the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals (first round of the 1988 draft). Following graduation from Richmond with a B.A. in Sociology in 1989, Jordan was released by Buffalo but signed with the Atlanta Falcons.7 There he was teammates with fellow defensive back Deion Sanders for three years.8 Of Jordan, Sanders opined, “Brian was a hell of a football player.”9 Jordan toiled in the Cardinals’ minor-league system while he played professional football – but when St. Louis offered him a three-year $2.3 million contract with the stipulation that he forgo football, Jordan agreed to play baseball exclusively.10  

Jordan made an impressive major-league debut on April 8, 1992. He went 2-for-5 with a double and four RBIs. The rookie hit five home runs in April and May but struggled at the plate otherwise. He was also hindered by a hamstring injury that caused him to miss about a month in May and June.11 When his batting average declined to about .200 in mid-July, Jordan was sent back to the minors for the rest of the season. It was a similar story over the following two seasons. Jordan continued to have trouble hitting major-league pitching and he suffered significant injuries that curtailed each campaign.

The situation changed in early April 1995 when the Cardinals traded Mark Whiten to Boston and Jordan became the regular right fielder for St. Louis. He responded positively to the opportunity by hitting safely in nine of the Cardinals’ first 11 games with three long balls. In early July Jordan hit a walk-off single in the 12th inning in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins. Assessing his campaign to date after the game, he opined, “The opportunity to play every day has really helped my confidence. I’m fortunate. I’ve learned patience and I’ve gained some leadership abilities.”12

In addition, Jordan was playing stellar defense. He preserved a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros in early August with a shoestring catch near the right field line, followed by an excellent throw to the plate for a double play that prevented the tying run from scoring.13 Over the course of the entire 1995 season he made just one error in over 1,000 innings in the outfield. Although Jordan never won a Gold Glove during his career, the caliber of his defense merited the award. Jordan’s range factor per nine innings of 2.27 was better than the same statistic (2.24) for five-time Gold Glove winner Steve Finley.

Brian Jordan (Trading Card DB)Despite enjoying a breakthrough campaign, Jordan came close to returning to professional football in September 1995. After declining an initial three-year $7.3 million contract offer from the Cardinals, Jordan actively explored opportunities with NFL teams. At the last minute, the Cardinals increased the offer to $10 million with the condition that he not play football. Jordan took the offer but said he would have returned to the NFL if the Cardinals had not offered him a contract to his liking.14 

Jordan missed the first dozen games of the 1996 season because of torn ligaments in his left wrist and a fracture of his left thumb he sustained while diving for a ball in spring training.15 The injuries bothered him all year. In July he admitted, “I’m struggling with the pain. I’m just toughing it out.”16

He continued his progress from the previous year despite the injuries, hitting safely in 14 of 17 games at the end of June to improve his batting average to .290 at the close of the month. The outburst included a six-RBI game on June 24 and two three-hit games. On July 13 he hit the second grand slam of his career in another six-RBI contest. He finished the season with a .310 batting average and his first season with triple digits (104) in RBIs. Jordan also continued to shine on defense, making just two errors in more than 1,100 outfield innings. He finished eighth in the voting for the MVP in the National League.

Jordan’s progress did not go unnoticed. Journeyman infielder Charlie Hayes opined, “I think the biggest improvement I saw when I was in the National League was Brian Jordan. I think that guy is possibly their MVP.”17 Jordan’s contributions on both sides of the ball in 1996 helped the Cardinals win their first division title since 1987 and provided him with his first postseason experience. He batted .333 with a home run and three runs batted in during the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of the Padres in the National League Division Series. In the NLCS the team won three of the first four games, putting them on the brink of the World Series, but Atlanta steamrolled St. Louis in the next three games, outscoring them 32-1 to win the series. Jordan hit .240 but slugged .480 with a double, a triple, and a home run.

Jordan’s litany of injuries continued in 1997. He missed much of the season and was relatively ineffective when he was playing because of a bulging disc in his back.18 He had surgery on his injured wrist in September and worked on strengthening his back during the offseason so he could be ready for the 1998 campaign.19

And ready he was. Although Jordan started the season slowly, an eight-game hitting streak with 14 hits at the end of April improved his batting average to .329 on the young season. His seventh home run of the year on May 16 provided the winning run that broke a three-game Cardinal losing streak. The next night he hit another long ball in the first 5-for-5 game of his career, which had him hitting .378. Halfway through the schedule, on June 30, he had pounded 14 home runs and was leading the league with a .347 average.

Jordan was playing so well that he often batted cleanup behind Mark McGwire during his historic home run chase with Sammy Sosa. Despite the heroics of McGwire and Jordan, the Cardinals played roughly .500 ball for the year and finished 19 games behind the division-winning Houston Astros. It was a career year for Jordan. He set career bests in runs scored (100), hits (178), triples (7), home runs (25), and batting average (.316). But he was a free agent at the end of the season. Where would he play in 1999?

With such stellar offensive production in his walk year, and his outstanding defense, it’s not surprising that Jordan was pursued by several teams. His suitors included the Mets, Yankees, Orioles, and Braves. He chose the Braves because his family was living near Atlanta. He explained, “That was the deciding factor. I wanted to be here with my kids.”20

His on-field performance did not disappoint. Jordan got off to the best start of his career in 1999 and was batting .356 at the end of April. On May 19 he hit a grand slam home run (the third of his career) that provided the decisive run in a Braves victory. He hit safely in 22 out of 24 games between June 24 and July 20. This led to the only All-Star selection of his career. For the season he set career highs in games played (153) and RBIs (115). He also continued to excel on defense, making just three errors in more than 1,200 innings in the outfield.

Jordan’s performance helped the Braves to a 103-win season and first place in the NL East. They faced the Astros in the NLDS. Jordan had an excellent series, batting .471 and driving in seven runs to help the team win in four games. He drove in all five runs in the Braves’ crucial 5-3 win in Game Three that put them ahead two games to one. He had five more RBIs in the Braves’ NLCS victory over the Mets that sent them to the World Series against the Yankees. But Jordan, and the Braves offense in general, struggled against Yankee pitching as the Bronx Bombers swept the Series. It was the only World Series in which Jordan played.

The injury bug haunted Jordan again during the 2000 season. He missed a dozen games early on with a muscle strain in his right rib cage and was batting under .200 for most of April.21 He got hot in May and June, putting together nine and seven-game hitting streaks during those two months, respectively. But the rest of the season did not go as well. He batted just .192 in July and injured his right knee and ankle lunging toward first base during a game late in the month.22 He pulled a groin muscle in early August and received cortisone shots in both shoulders, his right knee, and left elbow in the middle of the month.23 The injuries took their toll. Jordan finished the season batting .264 with 17 home runs, a subpar performance for him. His OPS+ of 86 was well below his stellar 1998 and 1999 seasons.

His struggles did not prevent the Braves from making the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season (there were no playoffs during strike-shortened 1994). They faced off against Jordan’s old team, St. Louis, in the NLDS. Despite his injury-plagued season, Jordan played well during the series. He went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Game One and had another pair of RBIs in Game Two, finishing the series with a .364 batting average. But the rest of the team struggled offensively, and the Braves’ vaunted pitching staff faltered as the Cardinals swept the series in three games.

Jordan had an operation on each of his shoulders after the season with hopes of being fully healed by the start of the 2001 season.24 The surgery did the trick. Although he started slowly (he was batting .188 on April 21) Jordan went on a 14-game hitting streak shortly thereafter. The streak was part of a 24-game sequence where he collected 31 hits and batted .341 to raise his overall average to .277. He roughly maintained that level until August. Early in that month Jordan put together a 10-game hitting streak, adding another five-game streak at the end of the month. The hot stretch pushed his batting average up to .298 for the season. He also displayed good power, with eight home runs in July and four more in August.

The whole country was stunned by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Jordan said, “If I were a fan, I would not be sitting in no stadium watching a baseball game.”25 After the Braves resumed play on September 17, Jordan’s offensive heroics helped Atlanta hold off the Phillies in a tight race for the division title.

On September 23 the Braves trailed the Mets by three runs entering the ninth inning at Shea Stadium. Jordan’s two out, two-run home run keyed a three-run rally that sent the game into extra innings. His second home run of the game in the 11th inning provided the winning margin. “It was a home run or nothing. I wanted to do something to wake this team up,” Jordan remarked after the game.26 He followed that up with a walk-off grand slam on September 29 that put an exclamation point on a seven-run ninth inning. Another two-run homer by Jordan on October 4 helped push the Braves’ lead over the Phillies to three games with three games left to play. They finished two games ahead of Philadelphia.

That capped an excellent year for the right fielder. Jordan collected 165 hits and tied the mark of 25 home runs he had pounded in 1998. He drove in 97 runs and scored 82. Jordan’s 32 doubles were just four below the mark he set in 1996. The offense was accompanied by his usual excellent defense. Jordan made just three errors in over 1,200 outfield innings.

Despite their slow start and the close finish, the Braves won the NL East Division for the 10th consecutive season (setting aside the strike-shortened 1994 season, the team reached the postseason every year from 1991 through 2005). They faced the Houston Astros in the NLCS. Although Jordan did not hit well during the series (he had just two hits and two RBIs), the Braves swept the Astros in three games. Their reward was a date with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League pennant. The Diamondbacks featured two 20-game winners: Randy Johnson (21 victories) and Curt Schilling (22). Jordan had a better series than he did against Houston, collecting four hits and three RBIs. But the pair of Diamondback aces started, and won, three games in the five-game series to send Arizona to the World Series.

Jordan’s name had come up in trade rumors periodically during his tenure with the Braves, but nothing had come of it. However, that changed in January 2002 when Jordan (along with Odalis Pérez and Andrew Brown) was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Gary Sheffield. Jordan was very unhappy about it. “You think all the trade rumors are put away, and you come back and have a good season and kind of prove yourself, and then this happens with no warning,” Jordan said. He continued, “It’s like he [Braves general manager John Schuerholz] stabbed me in the back. This is going to take me away from my family. You get used to being home, and then you have to tell your kids we’re going to be apart.”27 

Jordan had to change not only cities but also positions when he went to the Dodgers. Shawn Green was established in right field for Los Angeles, so Jordan was moved to left. He had played some games in left field for the Cardinals in the early 1990s, and he continued his fielding excellence there, making just four errors during the 2002 season. He started his offensive career in Los Angeles with a bang as he hit the fifth grand slam of his career in his fifth game with the Dodgers. His second grand slam of the season, in September, marked the only time that he hit two in one year. He played so well in September he was named the National League Player of the Month for the only time in his career.

Although his new teammates appreciated Jordan’s all-out style of play, it was also risky – once again he had an injury-marred campaign. Jordan missed six games in May with a strained oblique and much of August with a protruding disk in his back.28 He developed tendinitis in his left knee around midseason.29 Yet despite the injuries, Jordan had another good offensive season. Playing in 128 games he collected 134 hits, put 18 balls over the fence, drove in 80 runs, and scored 65. Jordan became a historical footnote on May 26 with a strikeout that moved Randy Johnson past Walter Johnson on the career list.30

Jordan had surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee two days after the 2002 season ended. However, the Dodgers expected him to recover in time for spring training. Jordan later argued that he was pressured by the team to come back before he was fully healed.31 After the World Series he exercised his right to file a trade demand as a player who had been traded in the midst of a multiyear contract.32 The tactic was more of a negotiating ploy by Jordan than an expression of dissatisfaction with the Dodgers; Jordan rescinded the demand in January 2003.33

For the second consecutive year Jordan began the season well. On Opening Day, he went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. He followed that up with homers in the third and fourth games of the season. On April 6 and 22 he drove in the winning run during Dodger victories. Jordan continued to play excellent defense, making just one error in 2003.

Unfortunately, he hurt his right hand in a fluke accident at the batting cage before the game on May 11.34 He missed only one game because of the injury, although it seemed to affect his power – he didn’t hit another long ball until June. But Jordan’s surgically repaired knee did not hold up to the rigors of the season and his aggressive style of play. He developed patellar tendinitis and had season-ending surgery on his left knee in July.35 Although Jordan batted .299 during his abbreviated season, he hit just six home runs and drove in only 28 runs in 66 games.

The 36-year-old Jordan, who became a free agent after the 2003 season, knew he was nearing the end of his playing career. “I should be 100 percent by opening day, and as long as I stay healthy, I should have the skills to play another two or three years,” Jordan stated when he signed with the Texas Rangers for the 2004 season.36 But injuries continued to limit his playing time in 2004;  he got into just 15 games for the Rangers before July 23. Jordan finally found his form at the plate in September, collecting 15 hits in 12 games to help the Rangers stay in the American League West Division race. He scored the winning run in a walk-off victory on September 23 that completed a Ranger sweep of the Oakland Athletics and brought the team to within two games of the first place A’s. But that was as close as the Rangers got – they finished the season three games behind. Jordan played in 61 games and batted .222.

Jordan’s improved performance in September convinced the Braves to bring him back to Atlanta for 2005. “I’ve got plenty left, definitely. It was just a matter of getting my knee back to where I’m comfortable and confident that I can do those things again, as far as playing hard, running hard through the bag, making diving catches,” said Jordan.37 His optimism was justified for the first half of the season. He played in 63 games before the 4th of July, batting .244 with 23 RBIs. But another knee injury kept him out of action for the rest of the season except for 13 games in September and October.38 Making his final playoff appearance, Jordan had a double in five at-bats as the Braves lost to the Astros in the NLDS,

Jordan returned to the Braves for the 2006 season and once again started well. After home runs in consecutive games on May 7 and 9, Jordan was batting .324. However, that was his high point for the year. Over the next 19 games he batted only .128, and his average was down to .214 in mid-June when he was once again injured. He returned for eight games in September and decided to retire after the season.

Jordan went from playing on the field to sitting above it after his retirement. He worked in the broadcasting industry for FOX Sports South, Comcast Sports South, and ESPN and won an Emmy Award for his enthusiastic on-air personality and insightful sports analysis.39 A two-sport star even in the broadcast booth, on September 11, 2021, he participated in an interesting doubleheader. Jordan was an analyst at a Georgia Tech football game in the afternoon and called an Atlanta Braves baseball game that night.40

Jordan and his wife, Pam (née Bryant), met at the University of Richmond, where she was an All-American basketball player. They have two daughters, Briana and Kenley, and two sons, Bryson and Kaleb.41 The Jordans reside in Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. In February 1995 they were jointly inducted into the U. of Richmond Hall of Fame, becoming the first married couple to receive that honor.42

The father of four is passionate about helping children achieve their potential. He established the Brian Jordan Foundation in 1998 and remains active in the organization. The Foundation creates and supports programs for children and their families in order to improve their quality of life.43 Jordan also inherited his mother’s passion for children’s literacy. He’s the author of four books for children and regularly visits elementary schools to promote reading.44

Last revised: April 23, 2024



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted,,, and material from the Brian Jordan file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York.

Photo credits: Trading Card Database.



Many thanks to SABR member Rory Costello. His careful review of the first draft of this biography and the modifications he suggested significantly improved the final product, which was also reviewed by Rick Zucker and fact-checked by Ray Danner.

Thanks to Cassidy Lent at the Hall of Fame Library for providing the Hall’s Brian Jordan file.

The author is not related to Brian Jordan, but he shares the same birthday (eight years earlier) as the two-sport athlete.



1 “The 3 Best NFL & MLB Players of All Time,”, July 18, 2018,

2 “Athlete, Business Owner Brian Jordan to be C-Suite Conversation Guest,”, Newsroom, January 2, 2014,

3 “Brian Jordan,” Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame,,, (last accessed January 10, 2024.

4 “Alvin L. Jordan, Bethlehem Steel worker,” Baltimore Sun, January 9, 2014: A14.

5 Jordan File at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Bernie Miklasz story on July 11, 1992. Bernie Miklasz, “This Jordan Ruled by Family: Former Two-Sport Star Finds Strength at Home,” Washington Times, July 11, 1992; see also Bernie Miklasz, “Honed at Home,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 3, 1992: D1.

6 The biographical information in this paragraph is taken from the following article: “Pro Baseball and Football Alum Tackles Childhood Illiteracy,” University of Richmond, Alumni,, January 27, 2023,

7 Although Jordan batted and threw right-handed, he signs left-handed.

8 “Brian Jordan,” Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame,

9 Jordan File, Tom Wheatley, “Jordan, Sanders are Good Friends but Nothing Alike.”

10 Tim Crothers, “One And Only Torn Between Two Sports In His Quest For Fame And Fortune, Brian Jordan Finally Cast His Lot With The Baseball Cardinals,”, January 22, 1996,

11 Brian Jordan File at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Mel Antonen story in USA Today on June 17, 1992.

12 “Pags, Jordan Lift Cards in 12,” Daily American Republic (Poplar Bluff, Missouri), July 7, 1995: 9.

13 Tim Crothers, “One and Only Torn Between Two Sports in His Quest for Fame and Fortune, Brian Jordan Finally Cast His Lot with The Baseball Cardinals.”

14 Tim Crothers, “One and Only Torn Between Two Sports in His Quest for Fame and Fortune, Brian Jordan Finally Cast His Lot with The Baseball Cardinals.”

15 “MLB Today,” The Salina Journal, April 3, 1996: D2.

16 Rick Hummel, “St. Louis Cardinals,” The Sporting News, July 22, 1996: 22.

17 “Maddux Came a Few Bucks from Being a Yankee,” Santa Cruz (California) Sentinel, October 20, 1996: B5.

18 “Jordan Visits Back Specialist,” Daily American Republic (Poplar Bluff, Missouri), May 7, 1997, 3B.

19 “Jordan Returns in Cards’ 11-5 Loss to Braves,” Daily American Republic, March 10, 1998: 1B.

20 Jordan File, “Jordan Inks 5-Year Deal with Braves,” November 24, 1998.

21 “Galarraga’s Three-Run Blast Lifts Braves to Win (Notes),” The Index-Journal, (Greenwood, South Carolina), April 6, 2000: 4B.

22 Paul Newberry, “Hobbling Braves Keep Winning,” Salina (Kansas) Journal, July 30, 2000: C2.

23 Bill Zach, “Baseball, Atlanta,” The Sporting News, August 14, 2000: 54.

24 Ken Rosenthal, “These Are Teams to Watch as the Next Season Unfolds,” The Sporting News, December 25, 2000: 56.

25 “Baseball Could Have First Mr. November,” Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina), September 13, 2001: 4B.

26 Ben Walker, “Bonds, Sosa, Jordan Stage Home Run Show,” Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), September 24, 2001: 19.

27 “Sheffield traded to Braves for Jordan, pitcher Perez,” Baseball, January 15, 2002,

28 Brian Dohn, “Los Angeles Dodgers,” The Sporting News, June 3, 2002: 41; Brian Dohn, “Los Angeles Dodgers,” The Sporting News, September 2, 2002: 24.

29 Jordan File, Ross Newhan story, “Jordan Nurses Grudge Against Dodgers.”

30 “Big Unit Reaches 8th Place in Strikeouts,” Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina), May 27, 2002: 1B.

31 Jordan File, Ross Newhan story, “Jordan Nurses Grudge Against Dodgers.”

32 “Jordan Demands Dodgers Trade Him,” Hays (Kansas) Daily News, October 31, 2002: B1.

33 “Brian Jordan Rescinds Trade Demand,” Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina), January 7, 2003: 2B.

34 “Baseball Notes,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 12, 2003: B3.

35 “Out,” Hays Daily News, July 10, 2003, B2.

36 Jordan File, Ross Newhan story, “Jordan Nurses Grudge Against Dodgers.”

37 Jordan File, David O’Brien, “Brian Jordan Rejoins Braves.”

38 Paul Newberry, “Rookies Propel Braves to Playoffs,” Salina Journal, September 29, 2005: C4.

39 “About Brian Jordan,” The Brian Jordan Foundation,, (last accessed February 27, 2024).

40 Tim Tucker, “A Doubleheader for Brian Jordan: He’ll Call Tech, Braves Games Saturday,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 11, 2021.

41 Ross Newhan, “Jordan Feeling Right at Home,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2002.

42 “Five inducted into UR Hall of Fame,” University of Richmond Magazine, Spring 1995: 22.

43 “The Brian Jordan Foundation Mission,” The Brian Jordan Foundation,, (last accessed February 28, 2024).

44 Phillip Hubbard, “Knowledge Is in the Books: Brian Jordan Launches Reading Challenge in Newton County,” The Covington News, March 22, 2023. The four children’s books Jordan has written are:  I Told You I Can Play!, Overcoming the Fear of the Baseball, Time-Out for Bullies, and The Adventures of Champ Jr.

Full Name

Brian O'Neal Jordan


March 29, 1967 at Baltimore, MD (USA)

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