Joe Gordon, NY Yankees
Joseph Lowell Gordon (February 18, 1915 – April 14, 1978), nicknamed “Flash” in reference to the comic-book character Flash Gordon, was an American second baseman, coach and manager in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians from 1938 to 1950. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Gordon was the outstanding player at his position during the 1940s, winning the 1942 American League MVP Award and being named to The Sporting News Major League All-Star Team in nine of his eleven seasons. Known for his acrobatic defense, he led the AL in assists four times and in double plays three times. He was the first AL second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a season, doing so seven times, holds the league mark for career HRs at second base (246), and he held the single-season record until 2001. He played a major role on the 1948 champion Indians, leading the team in homers and runs batted in. He ranked sixth in major league history in double plays (1,160) upon retiring, and was sixth in AL history in games (1,519), putouts (3,600), assists (4,706) and total chances (8,566) and seventh in fielding percentage (.970).
From Baseball in Wartime:
Joseph L “Joe” Gordon was born on February 18, 1915 in Los Angeles, California. A product of the American Legion baseball program, the gifted infielder attended the University of Oregon before signing with the New York Yankees in 1936.
Gordon played shortstop for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League his rookie year and batted .300 in 143 games with 33 doubles, 6 home runs and 56 RBIs. The following season he was with Newark of the International League where he batted .280 and clouted 26 home runs. He joined the Yankees as a second baseman in 1938 and enjoyed an outstanding rookie season batting .255 with 25 home runs and 97 RBIs.
Nicknamed “The Flash”, Gordon was an American League all-star for the next five seasons, appeared in five World Series and was the league’s Most Valuable Player of 1942, when he batted .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBIs. In six seasons, Gordon hit 142 home runs, batted .278 and stole 66 bases. Teamed with Frank Crosetti and then Phil Rizzuto, he made up an exceptional double play combination with his defensive wizardry.
The Yankee star entered military service at San Francisco on May 8, 1944, and was assigned to Camp Luna, New Mexico, where he promptly set about organizing the Camp Luna Airtrancos baseball team. “Since joining the Airtrancos,” announced The Sporting News on June 15, 1944, “the Flash has been playing shortstop, fielding spectacularly and hitting like a demon. In a two-game series against the Santa Fe MPs on a recent weekend, Gordon, batting in the cleanup spot, collected eight hits in 11 trips. The ex-Bomber had three-for-six in the first game, won by the Airtrancos, 22 to 16, and boasted a perfect five-for-five in the second tiff, also won by Camp Luna, 16 to 6.”