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Joe "Flash" Gordon -- AL Career Record Holder
for Most HR by A 2nd Baseman!
Born Joseph Lowell Gordon 18 February
1915 to Benjamin Lowell Gordon and LuLu Pearl Evans
in Los Angeles, California. Joe died in
1978 (see his
obituary from the New York
Times.) Joe played for the New York
Yankees from 1938-1943, and 1946; for
the Cleveland Indians from 1947-1950. He
managed the Cleveland Indians from
1958-1960; the Detroit Tigers (1960);
Kansas City A's in 1961; Kansas City
Royals in 1969.  

His playing career was impressive even
with the interruption of military service in
WWII from 1943-1945, Joe Gordon was
considered to be the best second base-
men of his time by his contemporaries.
Even playing in parks which were “bad”
for right-handed hitters, he hit 20 or more
home runs (HR) in seven of the eleven
years of his career, with 253 Career HR
setting an AL Career Record for most HR
by a 2nd baseman and, 975 RBIs in his
career! His playing career included the MVP Award in 1942, edging out Ted Williams
who earned the AL Triple Crown that year. He also achieved nine All-Star elections
(1939-1943, 1946-1949); six pennants; five World Series Titles, in which he belted
out 4 HR, hit .400 in the 1938 sweep of the Cubs, and an even more impressive .500
in the 1941 five-game win over the Dodgers! His teams were 5-1 in the Series;
winning 21 of 28 games.
With Joe's return to 2nd, they were off and running to yet another pennant!

In 1943-1945, he served in the US Army Air Corps (now US Air Force), primarily in
the Pacific Theater achieving the rank of Corporal. Upon his return to MLB in 1946,
he had a run-in with Larry MacPhail, the Yankees’ general manager. “MacPhail didn’t
like me from the start,” said Gordon. “He accused me of quitting on him. That’s a
damn lie. I never quit on anybody in my life. He called me in his office and insulted me
all over the place. He ordered Bill Dickey (the Yankees’ manager) to bench me and
not play me again. Dickey refused and we just kept battling.” At the end of the
season, MacPhail traded Joe and infielder Eddie Bockman to the Indians for Allie
Reynolds.

Joe Gordon was recognized during his career as the best 2nd baseman in ML
baseball, he is considered by many today as the top 2nd baseman of his era! He
also made baseball history when he was part of the ONLY and most unusual trade of
managers in 1960 when the Indians and Tigers swapped managers with Jimmy Dykes
trading places with Joe Gordon. So why is it that this fine sportsman was left out of
the Baseball Hall of Fame until forty years after his retirement? He was an
outstanding defensive player who was in head-to head votes for the All-Stars voted
ahead of Bobby Doerr almost every year, and yet Doerr was inducted into the Hall in
1986 – even though Gordon was a better hitter, and was, by their contemporaries,
considered the better defensive player. On March 1, 1988 for the first time since
1956, the Special Veterans Committee did not elect anyone to the Hall of Fame. Phil
Rizzuto, Leo Durocher, Joe Gordon, and Gil Hodges were among the candidates
passed over. Bill James, compiler and author of The Bill James Historical Baseball
Abstract, believed Gordon should be in the Hall of Fame and it is hard to argue with
him. No matter how you measure it, Gordon was among the top second basemen of
all time.

Finally, on December 7, 2008 the Veterans Committee voted him in with 10 of 12
votes! "He was an acrobat," said Hall of Fame left-hander Bob Feller, who played with
Gordon for the Indians from 1947-50. "He was always in front of the ball." On
December 8, 2008, the New York Yankees issued the following perfunctory press
release quoting George M. Steinbrenner: "As a young man in Cleveland, I remember
what a spectacular ballplayer Joe Gordon was. He was a great second baseman, a
great Yankee and an inspiration to millions of Americans for many years. The
Yankees are proud of his election."  According to his children, Judy and Joe Gordon,
he was a humble man who rarely talked about the game he loved, often steering
conversations to hunting, fishing or golf. When asked what her father would say to
being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Judy replied,” "I don't think he would have said
much, but he would have been so pleased."
Yankees manager Joe McCarthy considered the greatest manager of all time with the
highest winning percentage in MLB and seven World Championships said, "The
greatest all-around ballplayer I ever saw, and I don't bar any of them, is Joe Gordon."
With 24 years as a manager in MLB during one of the greatest eras of MLB, that
says it all! Yet, Joe Gordon is probably one of the most under appreciated of the
Yankee Greats.  His number has not been retired. He has no plaque in Monument
Park. Maybe the Yankee organization will take note and finally honor him as well; if
not, the House of Gordon says, “Shame on the Yankees! MacPhail was wrong so get
over it and do right by the Flash!”
Site Design & Layout Copyright House of Gordon, Virginia 2004
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Joe Gordon, September 10, 1941
Joe Gordon leaps for home plate on May 15, 1941.
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