Joe “Flash” Gordon was the greatest defensive second baseman in the history of the game, according to the most sophisticated statistical tools we have at our disposal. In addition, witnesses who saw him play were equally impressed.
It’s really quite amazing that Gordon wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until 2009 – 58 years after his last game and 31 years after his death. He received MVP votes in eight of his 11 seasons, was an All-Star nine times, was the first second baseman to hit 20 homers in the American League, retired as the all-time homer leader at his position, and was universally acclaimed as the finest defender at second. He also missed two prime seasons due to service in World War II. When he was finally honored in Cooperstown in 2009, his daughter said, “He insisted against having a funeral, and as such, we consider Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as his final resting place to be honored forever.”
Gordon was happy to be dealt to the Cleveland Indians after the 1946 season. He was fed up with Yankees team president Larry MacPhail, who rode Gordon mercilessly over his poor play in 1946, which Joe insisted was due to an injury. Gordon found a much better atmosphere in Cleveland and quickly set out to settle the score. “It’s delightful to do things to disturb the Yankees,” Gordon told The Sporting News, “not the players themselves, mind you. I have a lot of friends on the team. But to disturb MacPhail, that’s the ambition I’m going to work hard for the rest of my stay in the American League.” In 84 games against the Yanks, Gordon had mixed results. He hit .233 with a .429 SLG but he did smack 15 homers against his former team. In his first series against the Bombers in ’47 he did have success, hitting two homers.
- Was also known as “Trigger” during his playing career because of his quick delivery of the baseball from the pivot at second base.