Gordon a great obscured by giants
'Flash' less sung than teammates, but record speaks for itself
CLEVELAND -- With teammates such as Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Lou Boudreau over the course of his career, Joe Gordon could be forgiven for getting lost in the shuffle of history.But it was no coincidence that Gordon, nicknamed "Flash" as a reference to his speed and the popular comic-book character "Flash" Gordon, was a member of five World Series championship teams in his 11-year career with the Yankees (1938-43, '46) and Indians (1947-50). His rare combination of power at the plate and flair in the field made him one of the game's premier second basemen in his era. Gordon will be considered for the Class of 2009 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009. Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be revealed at 1 p.m. ET on MLB.com on Monday from baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The other members of the pre-1943 Veterans Committee final ballot are Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Sherry Magee, Carl Mays, Allie Reynolds, Vern Stephens, Mickey Vernon, Bucky Walters and Deacon White.
Gordon, who was the 1942 American League Most Valuable Player and was selected to play in the All-Star Game nine times, still holds the AL record for most career homers by a second baseman (246). He hit 20 homers in a single season seven times in his career and 30 homers twice. When he captured the MVP Award in '42, he beat out Triple Crown winner Ted Williams. In the field, the acrobatic Gordon, who lost two years of his career to service in World War II, led the AL in assists four times and in double plays three times. Gordon, who passed away in 1978 at the age of 63, will also be remembered for the way he reached out to new teammate Larry Doby, the AL's first African-American player, while with the Indians in '48. On Doby's first day with the Tribe, it was Gordon who offered to play catch with him when no one else would, and that further established Gordon's reputation as the consummate professional. "It meant a lot to me," Doby once said, "and it taught those other people something, as far as relationships are concerned." When his playing career came to a close, Gordon didn't leave the dugout. He went on to manage the Indians in 1958, and his Tribe team finished second in the AL in '59. Gordon became an interesting piece of baseball trivia in 1960, when he was involved in the game's only manager-for-manager trade. He was shipped to Detroit, with Jimmy Dykes going to Cleveland. Gordon finished that season with the Tigers, then managed the Kansas City Athletics in 1961 and the Kansas City Royals in 1969. The man known as "Flash," who won four titles with the Yankees and one with the Tribe, has not had his name handed down much in baseball lore, but he certainly had the respect of his teammates and opponents. As the late, great Yankees manager Joe McCarthy once remarked: "The greatest all-around ballplayer I ever saw, and I don't bar any of them, is Joe Gordon."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.