Nick Gordon is a second-generation Black baseball player. His father Tom Gordon was a three-time All Star pitcher, and brother Dee Strange-Gordon is a minor leaguer, now playing for Iowa.
“I knew since I was six years old I wanted to play baseball,” said Nick during the Twins’ last home stand. He noted that playing baseball was not his father’s expectation for both him and his brother. “He never really forced it on us, but he made sure that it was something we wanted to do and take serious,” he stressed.
Gordon is in his third call-up stint from AAA St. Paul. He hopes this time is the charm.
His father and brother were in attendance earlier this month when Nick smashed his first MLB homer. His eight hits through his first six career games are the most by a Minnesota player since Miguel Sano’s rookie debut in 2015. Along with recording his first career hit May 6, Gordon also became the first player in Twins history with multiple stolen bases in his MLB debut.
Nearly a month later, on June 6 in Kansas City, Gordon again made team history as a second baseman, along with Sano and Andrelton Simmons successfully executing the first-ever 3-6-4 triple play by the Twins and the first in the majors since 1980. To execute a triple play, at least two runners must be on base and there are no outs.
Sano, playing first, caught a batter’s attempted bunt for the first out, then threw to the shortstop Simmons at second base for the second out, who then ran the runner back to first base and threw to Gordon, now covering at first, for the third out.
“I didn’t really know what happened,” admitted the rookie Gordon.
A few games later, Gordon—normally an infielder, played in the outfield for the first time after 641 prior professional games in the majors or minors. He played centerfield against the Yankees. “I’m still learning,” he pointed out. “You got to be athletic and trust yourself. It’s definitely hard work.”
Gordon was the Twins’ top pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, fifth overall. He was listed as a top prospect that year after two solid seasons in high school in Florida, where he was named that state’s best player (2013) in his junior year. He originally signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Florida State but opted for pro ball after he was drafted.
“It was in-state,” said Gordon about his college choice. “I was a Seminoles fan as well as the [University of Florida] Gators. Florida State fit better. It would have been the perfect setting.”
He said he hopes to pursue a college degree but now his goals are set to stick on the Twins roster after nearly a half decade in the minors. Gordon is one of two U.S.-born Blacks on the club, similar to his position at St. Paul this season before his call-up.
“I still work every day,” he stressed. “I’m not comfortable or complacent.” He said he took his father’s advice to heart: “Be true to yourself. Don’t do things you can’t do. Find out what you’re good at and do it better.”
Asked if he has earned baseball bragging rights at the Gordon family dinner table with his father and brother, Nick said, “I still don’t think I get to say things to them. They accomplished great things and I’m still looking up to them.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.