Not every comeback succeeds

The world of sports has seen great athletes say goodbye to the spectacle that made them famous only to seek a return to inspire their fans, teammates and others with a comeback. Some savor a prosperous return to glory, while others have meager acknowledgment.

Here are a few that standout to me.

* BASKETBALL: (Michael Jordan) Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Jordan’s success with the Chicago Bulls made him a global brand.

He announced his retirement at age 30 in 1993 after his father was murdered and he grew tired of his celebrity status.

He then stunned the world by pursuing his father’s dream to see his son become a professional baseball player, and had an unspectacular stint in the minor leagues with the Birmingham Barons.

After that debacle, he returned to the Bulls and returned to the peak of the game – including an emotional NBA championship victory on Father’s Day in 1996.

He retired again in 1999 and headed off to the Washington Wizards to become part-owner and president of basketball operations, but it was not long before he was back on the court.

* AUTO RACING: (Michael Schumacher) It was in 2006 that Michael Schumacher retired for the first time. In his final race that year in Brazil, he suffered a fuel-pressure failure in qualifying and, in the race itself, a puncture after nine laps that saw him drop to 19th. Yet he bounced back, finishing in fourth place, and described his heroic performance as a ‘class finale’.

So, when talk came up of a 40-year-old Schumacher stepping in for Ferrari driver Felipe Massa after his serious injury at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the German’s manager, Willi Weber, said he was ‘200 percent’ sure he would not risk his reputation in an unfamiliar car. His manager and critics were wrong.

In December 2009, it was announced that Schumacher would be returning to Formula One in the 2010 season with the new Mercedes GP team. He drove for his new team until 2012, not winning any races and was replaced by Lewis Hamilton starting in 2013.

* GOLF: (Ben Hogan) He won nine career professional major championships. He is one of only five golfers to have won all four major championships open to golf professionals.

In Feb. 1949, Hogan and his wife Valerie were involved in a near-fatal car accident when a Greyhound bus swerved out into oncoming traffic to pass a truck and crashed into Hogan’s car head on. He suffered a broken collarbone, broken ankle, broken ribs and a double fracture of his pelvis.

While in the hospital, Hogan’s legs atrophied, and doctors worried he would never walk again, let alone play golf.

At the 1950 U.S. Open, Hogan -annoyed by questions about his ailing legs -won the championship in an 18-hole playoff against Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio. Hogan was able to comeback not only from retirement, but also from a life-threatening injury.

It takes perserverance to make a successful comeback.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com