As the 2019 season nears its end and the sun sets on Royals baseball for the year, the same might go for 13-year veteran Alex Gordon. The five-time Gold-Glove winner posts a career .258 average with 1605 hits, 186 home runs, 736 RBIs, 113 stolen bases, and a 36.6 WAR.
Though the former Nebraska Cornhusker is contemplating returning for the 2020 season, his final games shouldn’t be treated as if he will be. After all, there are no do-overs. If you’re anticipating Gordon choosing another year of losing over retirement, you might forget to cherish the last time that pine tar stained jersey parades the endless outfield of Kauffman Stadium.
Amongst the numerous web gems, timely home runs, and, of course, hit by pitches, here is my list of all-time great moments of Alex Gordon’s career.
5. April 7, 2007: First major league hit
There is nothing like the first time. After striking out with bases load against Red Sox starter Curt Schilling on Opening Day in 2007, Gordon collected his first of what have been 1,605 hits so far off another rookie in Daisuke Matsuzaka during the bottom of the fifth.
Jammed on the inside part of his bat, Gordon, wearing number seven at the time, dumped it into shallow left field for a single. Three days later, he recorded his first major league home run in Toronto off Josh Towers.
4. August 26th, 2014: Walk-off home run vs. Twins
This game sticks out to me more than most outcomes of that improbable surge in the second half of 2014. As Kansas City trailed 1-0 against Minnesota, Gordon came to the plate with one on and nobody out. On the radio, you could hear the rather small crowd in full throat once the fan-favorite was announced. With the Royals still in the midst of battling it out for a Wild Card spot in the latter stages of the season, hall of fame broadcaster Denny Matthews delivered one of the most iconic lines of his career.
“If this is your year, these are the games you win. If this isn’t your year, you don’t”
Seconds later, Gordon cracked one to right-center field and barely over the wall to walk it off. As he circled the bases, Glen Perkins is bent over at the knees, staring out in the outfield with a grin on his face seemingly to say, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” The Royals proceeded to go 16-15 over the final 31 games, finishing one game better than Oakland for the top Wild Card spot.
3. April 25th, 2015: Gordon dives into the stands in Chicago
Ryan Lefebvre: “No way!”
Rex Hudler: “What?”
Lefebvre: “No way. He caught that!”
In a 3-0 game with Edinson Volquez on the bump, Micah Johnson slapped a fly ball towards the stands along the third-base line. Drifting further and further out of play, Gordon approached the shortened wall in foul territory
At the time, all the fans in the area centered their focus around the ball dropping towards them and not the platinum-glove winner approaching at high speed. Hurdling, lunging, and snagging the ball out of the air in one motion, Gordon plowed into the first row of seats. As only he would, Gordon emerged from pile without a scratch, tossed the ball the back in, and moved back out to his position without acknowledging the impossible that just happened. Somehow, Yoenis Céspedes beat out Gordon for the gold-glove that season. Sigh. Oh well.
2. October 29th, 2014: To send or not to send?
The ending to this story didn’t give the glory that all the people of Kansas City wanted. However, for as long as any of us live, the decision if he should’ve been sent hovers in the back of our minds (Personally, I think he gets hosed).
No matter how many times you watch it - the second roar of the crowd - Juan Perez fumbling it along the warning track - Gordon burning for third base - you would’ve thought the magic of that postseason had one more trick up it’s sleeve. Unfortunately, Madison Bumgarner was the only living-being immune to the magic and induced a pop up against Wild-Card hero Salvador Perez to win game seven of the World Series. The pain hurt but only for another year.
1. October 27th, 2015: THE home run
Goosebumps, chills, and more goosebumps. How can you not be romantic about baseball? Trailing 4-3 in the ninth with one out and facing one of the best closers in baseball, Gordon looked to deliver after coming up 90-feet short 363 days before. On a 1-1 count, Jeurys Familia tried to ambush Gordon on a quick pitch. The rest is history.
“Gordon in the air to center. Baaaaack at the wall, this game is TIED!” - Joe Buck
The camera turned to Eric Hosmer, who was watching in utter disbelief of what just occurred. He hugs Christian Colón and then grabs Jermey Guthrie by his sweatshirt in all the pandemonium. There was no man more relieved in the entire stadium at that moment. For as long as baseball has been around, it was Gordon immortalizing himself with one of the most dramatic post season home runs of all-time.
October 15th, 2014: ALCS Game 4 wall-crasher
October 10th, 2014: Extra-inning blast
July 1st, 2008: Eutaw Street solo shot
August 13th, 2014: Gordon robs one to the end the game
September 24th, 2013: Game-saving assist in Seattle
There’s far more to choose from than the list above. And, I know I don’t speak for all Royals’ fans. So, if you don’t agree with the list, what Alex Gordon moment holds a special place in your heart?