This may not meet the “timely” criteria of journalism, but it took a couple weeks for Alex Gordon’s retirement to set in.
I sat down and started thinking about writing the standard ode to a legend, but it didn’t feel right.
Not because Gordon isn’t a legend, because he certainly is, but because his career impacted me in ways I almost can’t explain. I’m going to try my best here.
It was a yearly tradition to head to The K with my dad for Opening Day since I was five years old. My dad was a great dad, but very busy so Royals baseball was about the only thing we bonded over.
Every year usually felt the same. Skip school, pray for an opening day win, but deep down knowing the season was likely doomed.
I mean, the team had lost over 100 games the previous three seasons. At 13 years old, the closest thing I’d seen to competence was a mediocre 83-79 2003 campaign. But things just felt different on April 2, 2007.
That’s when Alex Gordon got the call. Opening day. Some had called him the savior. The next George Brett.
The stadium was crawling with Red Sox fans (opponent that day), but nobody seemed to mind. We were all there for one reason only. And the moment set itself up better than any scriptwriter could.
First at bat for Alex Gordon. Bases loaded. Curt Schilling on the mound. Fights to a full count. Foul ball. Foul ball. Strikes out swinging.
The stadium was buzzing like I had never heard it before and never would hear it again until 2014. Everybody knows about the second standing ovation he received but what really got me is what my dad said to me: “that’s a hell of an at bat.”
That was from a man who I had never heard compliment a pro athlete striking out and haven’t since.
We then got to see him lay out his incredible career, so admirable in not just how he does things the right ways but how it seems to be who he truly is. We enjoyed the high of 2015 with arguably the most clutch home run in World Series history.
We got the storybook ending we were hoping for at the start. I was listening to sports radio a few weeks back as I pulled up to the gas station and they were interviewing Gordon and they asked about his first career at bat.
Side note, I have the worst memory ever. So I was shocked when Gordon retold the story of his first at bat exactly as I had remembered it at 13 years old. At 21, I got to see Gordon lead us to a World Series title. I’m now 26 with a beautiful wife and plans to start a family of our own soon.
Out of nowhere I felt a lump in my throat as I pulled into the gas station listening to Gordon speak about a memory that feels like it belongs to me and my father as much at it belongs to Gordon.
That memory meant more than any single player, championship, or moment could provide. I held back the happy tears and made my way inside.
I needed that on that day. Thank you sports. Thank you Alex Gordon.