Q&A: Gordon talks about Nebraska roots

Royals left fielder eager to play game in home state

June 13th, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- When you think of Nebraska native sports sons, you immediately think of one name: , the Royals' All-Star and Gold Glove left fielder.

Gordon was born in Lincoln, Neb., grew up there and went to school at the University of Nebraska. He is Nebraska through and through.

So as the Royals and Tigers get set for Thursday night’s first-ever MLB game in nearby Omaha, MLB.com sat down with Gordon to talk about his beloved roots.

Question: How much family do you have left in Nebraska?

Gordon: My mom [Leslie] still lives there, my older brother [Eric] still lives there. And cousins.

Q: How many tickets have you had to request for Thursday’s game?

Gordon: Not that many yet. Obviously, my family is going and they haven’t asked yet. So I’ve only had a request for four -- for my uncle. I’m sure the requests are going to come a day or two before the game. I’m sure there’ll be plenty.

Q: When did you move to Leawood, Kan., from Lincoln?

Gordon: We moved here in 2007 after my rookie year and stayed in the offseason. Then in 2010, we started having kids and moved back near the grandparents in Lincoln, where we could get babysitters. And we stayed [in Lincoln] until after I signed back with the Royals [in 2016], and then we moved back [to Leawood] because we had to pick a full-time school for the kids.

Q: When you were growing up in Lincoln, how often did you visit Omaha?

Gordon: Growing up, I always watched the College World Series on TV, but I could never go because I was always playing summer baseball. My friends would go and would say how fun it was. We played in Omaha in summer baseball all the time. Then more toward my college years, I had friends on the team that were from Omaha and I would go hang with them there. But I was a Lincoln guy. Even though it was only 50-55 minutes away, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time there.”

Q: How would you describe life growing up in Lincoln?

Gordon: “I think the reason we like it so much in Leawood [and in Kansas City] is because it’s so similar to Lincoln. Obviously, it’s a bigger area than Lincoln and there’s more to do. But the people are pretty much the same. You know if you go to New York or Boston or the West Coast, it’s just a different feel. I don’t want to say anything bad about the West Coast or the East Coast, but I think my people are from this general area -- just maybe a lot nicer. It’s almost like we just changed places from Lincoln to a bigger place, but the people are the same. It’s the same feel.”

Q: How are Nebraska fans as sports fans?

Gordon: They’re crazy. Every night here I go out there at Kauffman Stadium and there’s a "Go Big Red" chant or something like that. They’re just all into their college sports because we don’t have a pro team, so that makes it really diehard. I think that makes it great because it’s all about the University of Nebraska. The fans, though, are really polite and supportive.”

Q: You still are extremely loyal to your alma mater. How often do you go to games?

Gordon: Oh, yeah. I go to less games now because we have kids and they obviously control your life. But for football games, we have a tailgate spot for football that I share with some buddies and we get together for that and reminisce about old times. So we do that a couple times a year. And I have season tickets for basketball that I share with my wife’s parents. We try to go to those as much as we can. I’d love to go to baseball games, but we just don’t have time.

Q: I read somewhere that if you ran for the governor of Nebraska, you’d win by a landslide. Governor Gordo?

Gordon: No, no. You wouldn’t want that. I’d tear that place apart. It just wouldn’t be good and I’ll leave it at that.

Q: When the day comes to retire, would you ever move back to Nebraska?

Gordon: No, we’re Kansas Citians. We’re established here now. And I’m always trying to recruit players here. I tried to get Hoch [Luke Hochevar] and [Jeremy] Guthrie to move here. I got Mitch Maier to move here. Now I’m working on Whit [Merrifield], maybe after he signs his next contract here. But we love it here. We’re not going anywhere.”