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Touch ‘em all, John Gordon

  

By Gordy Jones

 

2011 marks the 25th and final season of having John Gordon as the Twins’ play-by-play announcer. When John came aboard in 1987, I thought the Detroit native would be here on a one-season gig.

The Twins hadn’t been very good at the time, and I thought Gordo would get some additional big league experience and move on … maybe with the Tigers.

I still hadn’t gotten over losing Halsey Hall as Herb Carneal’s partner. Halsey was off the wall, wacky, spontaneous and hilarious. He was a good baseball guy, too. He wasn’t politically correct, as he did his play-by-play while often having a “beverage,” eating from his bag of green onions and smoking a cigar. Walking through my old neighborhood as a kid, I can remember hearing his voice coming from everyone’s front porch, where they sat listening to the Twins’ game on the radio. His voice was synonymous with summer in Minnesota.

After Halsey’s passing, the Twins tried pairing up many announcers with Herb. But after Halsey’s unique style, they all seemed too polished and professional … boring. Many were very good, though, while others weren’t.

Then along came John Gordon, and I thought, “Here we go again.” But 1987 was a magical year, and by the time the Twins won the pennant, I felt like I had heard Gordo say, “Touch ’em all Kirby Puckett” all of my life. Soon John Gordon was part of the Twins fan’s lives. He became part of summer in Minnesota.

John is very active in the Twins community. He hosts and emcees charitable events all year long. If it’s a charity affiliated with baseball or an important pregame ceremony, Gordo is usually the man. At the recent Harmon Killebrew memorial birthday dinner and auction for the Killebrew Foundation, Gordo co-emceed with Jim Kaat and Dick Bremer. While on stage, as the bids were flying around, Gordo suddenly made a bid of a large sum of cash … just as a donation. Then he sat down and wept as he remembered his friend Harmon.

Another thing John has given Minnesota is the Touch ’Em All Golf Classic, which is also in its final year. It has always been one of the most fun golf events around, with many Twins players and staff members participating. It has also raised thousands of dollars for stroke research, and more recently for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Too bad the date had to be moved to Sept. 8, which is a Twins day off, but a get-away day for the team, which means: After a full day of golf and food, the team will have to go directly to the airport and fly to Detroit for a series starting the following day. The original date is now a make-up game for a rain postponement. But it will still be a great time, maybe more so knowing that it’s the last.

On a personal note: When my dad was dying, I talked to John and told him how my dad loved baseball, how we played catch together and other stories. When my dad died, John did a little memorial to him, right in the middle of a Twins broadcast. It was very cool; it made the family’s day. It made a sad day … not so sad.

For several years now, I have been the official photographer for the Touch ‘Em All Golf Classic. Summer won’t be the same without the tournament, nor without “Touch ’em all (batter’s name)” enhancing the air waves of a summer evening.

Well, deservedly, John wants to relax and enjoy his family. I wish him well, and thank him for the great memories.

 

The Mauer Cup is On!

The 2nd annual Mauer Cup Little League Tournament kicked off two weeks ago with former Twins pitcher Jack Morris throwing out the first pitch. Jack gave the kids a few words of advice, but ended his talk with, “Have fun. You’re playing the greatest game in the world!”

Jack was very excited about this tournament, and he was the first guy there, arriving at around 7 for an 8 a.m., start. He signed autographs and posed for pictures with every kid or parent who asked. He even ate a hot dog for breakfast with the kids.

The Mauer Cup, which raises thousands of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitals, will have its championship game broadcast live. Check your listings.

 

Who’s on First?

Fans and critics who were whining that it’s imperative Joe Mauer takes on another position can relax now. Joe, who loves catching, has been having fun while making some big plays at first.

I was never worried that Joe would have a problem adapting. Joe is a gifted athlete, and it hasn’t been too many years since Joe was playing on the fields of St. Paul, where you have to be able to jump in at any position where you’re needed.

Before a recent game, Gardy was making the lineup, and gave Joe his choice between catcher and first. Joe chose first … he must be having fun!

 

Fans! If you have any Twins related questions, email Gordy at gejones1@aol.com

 

Check out Gordy’s book at http://www.baseballguy.org. Gordy can be reached at gejones1@aol.com.