Tom Gordon debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

Whether he was in the rotation or at the back of the bullpen, Tom Gordon consistently retired big league hitters.

Now, five years after his retirement from the diamond, Gordon finds himself a candidate for the Hall of Fame.

Gordon debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this fall, one of 34 players on the 2015 BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2015.

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 6. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 26 in Cooperstown.


A starter early in his career with the Royals, the hard-throwing Gordon transitioned into a reliever for a second act – posting 138 wins, 158 saves and three All-Star Game selections over 21 seasons. Born Nov. 18, 1967 in Sebring, Fla., Gordon was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 1986 MLB Draft. His father, Thomas Gordon Sr., pitched in the Negro Leagues.

After going 10-0 with two minor league teams in 1987 and following that with a 16-5 record, 263 strikeouts and 1.55 earned-run average with three Royals’ farm teams in 1988, the 20-year-old Gordon made his big league debut with KC on Sept. 8, 1988. He was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year that year.

The next season, the 5-foot-9 Gordon went 17-9 with the Royals as a swingman, striking out 153 batters in 163 innings. He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting on the strength of a 90-mph fastball and a knee-buckling curve considered one of baseball’s best.

From 1990-95, Gordon worked out of the rotation and/or the bullpen for the Royals, winning 62 games. He joined the Red Sox as a free agent in 1996, winning 12 games and posting a career-high 215.2 innings pitched. Then after reprising his swingman role in 1997, Gordon was named the Red Sox’s closer in 1998 – and he responded with a team-record 46 saves while going 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA.

He missed part of the 1999 season and all of 2000 while undergoing Tommy John surgery, then pitched for the Cubs, Astros and White Sox from 2001-03 before landing with the Yankees as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man. In 159 games with the Yankees over two seasons, Gordon went 14-8 with a 2.38 ERA and a 0.980 WHIP while earning a berth in the 2004 All-Star Game.

“There’s not an excuse in his vocabulary,” then-Yankees manager Joe Torre told the New York Times in 2005. “You can’t help but want to hug the guy.”

He moved on to the Phillies in 2006, saving 34 games, and remained with Philadelphia through 2008 before closing out his career with the Diamondbacks in 2009.

He finished his career with a record of 138-126, posting a 3.96 ERA in 890 games. His mark of 8.232 strikeouts per nine innings ranks 36th all-time, and his 890 games pitched ranks 28th.

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