Former Royals star discusses matchup with Smoltz in 1989 All-Star Game
By David Adler
Baseball and football icon Bo Jackson joined MLB Network on Thursday morning, debuting a public service announcement encouraging the employment of people with disabilities.
The legendary two-sport athlete, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and then went on to play in both the National Football League and Major League Baseball -- including being named an All-Star for the Royals in 1989 -- was representing the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and their Ability Transcends Challenges program.
"Thankfully, sports has let people see me for what I could do. But for 57 million Americans with disabilities, they've often been judged for what they can't do," Jackson said in the PSA, which aired after 11:15 a.m. ET. "And that's not fair. Consider people for their abilities -- you'll be surprised."
Following the PSA, Jackson joined MLB Central hosts Mark Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz for an interview, and he also unveiled a new commemorative Bo Jackson bobblehead, depicting him in a White Sox jersey snapping a bat over his knee. Jackson, who played two seasons for Chicago, is currently a team ambassador, and bobblehead proceeds will benefit White Sox Charities.
On MLB Network, Jackson explained why he partnered with PBATS and Major League Baseball in the joint-effort Ability Transcends Challenges program. Jackson has dealt with a speech impediment since childhood.
"Once I found out what it was, it was a no-brainer for me," Jackson said. "Because I am one of those people that this whole project is about."
On the show, Jackson reminisced with Smoltz about the 1989 All-Star Game, in which Jackson crushed a leadoff home run. More importantly to the former Braves pitcher, though, Jackson beat out a potential double-play ball with Smoltz on the mound that resulted in him taking the loss.
Jackson and the hosts also joked about "The Throw" -- when Jackson nailed now-MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds at the plate with a cannon from just in front of the left-field wall.
"Twenty-five years later, he still reminds me of that night, of the throw," Jackson said. "Because he said the newspapers the next morning should have read, 'Harold Reynolds, winning run for the Seattle Mariners.' But instead, it just was titled 'The Throw.' And showed him sitting on the ground."
Laughing, Jackson added, "I feel myself apologizing a lot for things that I did 20-something years ago."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.