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Happy Alex Gordon Day!

A history of one of the most cherished children's holidays.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow is officially "Alex Gordon Day" by decree of Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. The day was selected to honor Alex Gordon's birthday because Alex is "an excellent ambassador for Nebraska."  The holiday is now official, but Midwesterners have been celebrating Alex Gordon Day for generations. Here is a brief history of the holiday.

The Celebration

"Alex Gordon Day" is a day of great celebration, typically observed on February 9 to commemorate the birth of Alex Gordon. The day is dedicated to honoring hard work and sacrifice, much in the spirit of Alex himself. Today, millions are estimated to observe Alex Gordon Day around the world through parties and celebrations. Typically, gifts are given to small children, traditionally chewing gum and protein bars. The day has become such an economic boon to the protein bar industry, that stores will set up sales in anticipation of Alex Gordon Day on the Friday after New Year's Day, known as "Blue Friday."

Children traditionally wear glovehats at Alex Gordon Day parties, the headwear commonly associated with the  man himself. Cake was once expressly forbidden on Alex Gordon Day, but modern custom has loosened up on that restriction. Still, some orthodox Alex Gordon Day observers will feast only on protein bars for the entire day.

Children wearing the traditional "glovehat" to honor Alex Gordon.

Adults will commonly celebrate by engaging in "feats of strength" usually involving crunches and pull-ups. The winner of the feats of strength is typically awarded the opportunity to perform more pull-ups while shirtless. The night is typically capped off with a "Power Shag" much like Alex Gordon does to prepare for games.

The History of Alex Gordon Day

Americans have been celebrating Alex Gordon Day since the mid-19th century, but the tradition was actually carried over by German immigrants who settled in Missouri and Nebraska around that time. The day was originally known as Alexkergordonhaverkaufenschlassbenborger Tag, but eventually that was shortened and anglicized to "Alex Gordon Day." The legend of Alex Gordon has grown over the years, but originally German immigrants told their children of a god-like figure that could dive into stands for flyballs, throw out runners at any base, and launch game-tying World Series home runs.

A 19th century drawing of Alex Gordon wrestling a bear

The holiday would spread quickly in the 20th century as rural farmers moved to cities. Companies began to use the likeness of Alex Gordon in crass advertisements shilling everything from Coca-Cola to the Ford Edsel. By World War II, Alex Gordon Day was in popular culture, thanks to popular slogans like "When Alex Gordon saves the day, that Adolf Hitler sure will pay! Buy war bonds!"

An early 20th century advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes.

In the 1960s, Alex Gordon Day was treated more ironically among hippies, epitomized by the famous Grateful Dead lyrics:

Got no future

What do I have to say?

Guess I'll just buy you a flower

On Alex Gordon Day

In modern days, Alex Gordon Day has become worldwide, becoming a huge phenomenon in Japan. The holiday  remains most popular, however, in the Midwest, particularly in Nebraska, the ancestral home of Alex Gordon, and Kansas City, his familiar haunting ground.

An Alex Gordon Day statue at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City (courtesy of Jeremy Scheuch)

Now that the holiday has official recognition, Alex Gordon's rightful place in history is secure. Today, as you celebrate with your loved ones, take some time to think about the true meaning of Alex Gordon Day. As you perform your crunches and enjoy your protein shakes, reflect on the hard work and dedication of Alex Gordon. While we should enjoy the great feats on the baseball field he has given us, we should also find the Alex Gordon in all of us, and strive to excel off the baseball field the way he excels on it.