November 18 – Happy Birthday Tom “Flash” Gordon
Up until Phil Hughes filled the role during the 2009 season, the Yankees had not had an effective eighth inning relief specialist since the man they called “Flash” handled that responsibility in the New York bullpens of 2004 and 2005. Gordon had been a long-time starter for the Kansas City Royals who was converted into a closer one year after signing as a free agent with the Red Sox in 1996. He saved 46 games for Boston in 1998 but then was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery when he blew out his right elbow the following season. If that injury hadn’t happened, Gordon might still be saving games in Beantown. Instead he was forced to sit out the entire 2000 season and then spent the next three years pitching for three different teams while recovering his arm strength. The Yankees signed him at exactly the right time and he and Rivera successfully shortened many Yankee games to seven innings during their two years of partnership in the Bronx. I absolutely loved watching Flash take the ball in the eighth inning and completely dominate three hitters from the opposing lineup. When he had his fantastic curveball working, which was most of the time he wore the pinstripes, Gordon really was near unhittable. He was 14-8 as a Yankee and gave up less than one combined walk and hit per inning during his stay in the Big Apple. That success earned him a handsome three year deal from the Phillies after the 2005 season and forced the Yankees to spend the next three plus seasons looking for a new bridge to Mo.
Gary Sheffield was Gordon’s teammate on those 2004 and ’05 Yankee teams and also the most productive bat in New York’s lineup during that time. He also celebrates a birthday today.