Future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon is traded to the Indians

Written by: Katherine Acquavella

“We just won the pennant.”

That’s what Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck told reporters after news broke of their trade with the New York Yankees 70 years ago this week: On Oct. 19, 1946.

Veeck and the Indians had traded Allie Reynolds to the Yankees for Joe Gordon. Reynolds, a right-handed pitcher, had won 11 games and lost 15 for the Indians that season. Gordon, a second basemen, battled injuries throughout his first season back in Major League Baseball after taking a two-year break to serve in World War II.

The trade was a rare one that worked for both teams. Reynolds went 131-60 for the Yankees, helping them win six World Series, including a record five straight during 1949-1953. Gordon revived his career, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 124 runs as the Indians won the 1948 American League Pennant before capturing the World Series title by defeating the Boston Braves.

Gordon began his career in 1938, playing alongside future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing, Bill Dickey and Lefty Gomez. Gordon, often considered an overlooked Yankee, had his talent recognized by his manager Joe McCarthy.

“The greatest all-around player I ever saw, and I don’t bar any of them, is Joe Gordon,” McCarthy told St. Petersburg Times reporter Bob Considine.

“When we need him; when we need a hit from him, or a great play, or a great piece of base-running, that guy will come through for you better than any ball player I ever saw.”

Gordon hadn’t even played baseball for a complete season before teammate Gehrig announced his admiration for the rookie.

“Gordon is the best defensive second basemen in our league,” Gehrig said. “Joe is going to be around a long time. He has a wonderful future. He is an exceptionally good fielder now, but he is going to get better with experience. He is on the way to developing into the greatest defensive second basemen the American League ever had.”

When Bill Veeck broke the news to reporters that Gordon had been traded to their organization, he said "we just won the pennant." Two years later, that prophecy would be fulfilled. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Gordon lived up to Gehrig’s prediction when he won the 1942 American League MVP Award, beating Boston Red Sox’s Ted Williams by three votes. Gordon led the league in double plays turned at second base and finished the season with a .322 batting average, 18 home runs and 103 RBI.

Gordon would play four seasons with the Indians before he retired in 1950. In Cleveland, he joined another team of future Hall of Famers which included Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, Larry Doby and Lou Boudreau.

Gordon was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.


Katherine Acquavella was the 2016 public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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