Longtime Royals star Alex Gordon to retire

September 24th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- When the statue is made of Royals legend -- and it will be made and placed outside Kauffman Stadium someday -- it no doubt will depict him raising his right arm toward the sky as he rounds first base after hitting a game-tying home run in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.

“I think everyone knows what pose fans want,” Gordon said. “But I think it would be kind of funny to have that one where I hit the wall and am knocked out for 10 seconds. That would be a good statue.”

But of all the incredible memories surrounding Gordon’s 14-year career in Kansas City, that home run against Mets closer Jeurys Familia will stand out.

Gordon on Thursday announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old will have four more games in a Royals uniform starting Thursday night in Kansas City against the Tigers. And then he will ride into a sunset, as the befitting honors of his glorious career will soon follow, including no-doubters such as his entry into the Royals Hall of Fame and his number being retired.

Gordon said he had been contemplating retirement for some time.

“It’s hard,” he said. “Anyone who has ever played this game knows it is hard. This is a game you love. But you come to that day when you know it’s over. I kind of thought about it last year. But one of the things that brought me back this year was: I love those guys in the clubhouse. I love competing with them and going out to dinner with them, even though we couldn’t do that dinner thing this year.

“And I thought we were on the cusp of winning. But as the season went on, I kind of knew. I didn’t want to say anything, but I wasn’t going to lie to my teammates. I didn’t want to say anything until the last day of the season or when we were eliminated. And now here we are.”

Gordon plans to spend much more time with his wife Jaime and their three children.

“I’m starting to miss a lot of things with my family,” Gordon said. “It came down to, ‘I’m going to miss more about missing things with my kids than I’ll miss this.’”

Gordon was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 Draft, but he was anything but an instant success. It wasn’t until a position switch in '10 from third base to left field that his career catapulted into stardom.

Gordon became a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner in left field, and the industry standard on how to play outfield defense. His 101 assists are the most in MLB since 2010.

Gordon’s legacy in Kansas City will rank right next to other legendary Royals such as George Brett and Frank White, who also spent their entire careers with the Royals.

Gordon became a special player in the eyes of general manager Dayton Moore, who often said he didn’t like to mix business with his personal relationship with players. With Gordon, though, Moore seemed to make an exception.

“Those of you that know me know that isn’t always the case,” Moore said. “It is very difficult to articulate your feelings and emotions at a time like this. Alex has set the bar on the field and off the field. His work commitment has reached legendary status in this organization. It is the model.

“When we draft players and sign players, the makeup of Alex Gordon and how he exemplifies what a baseball player should be -- it’s something we try to identify with and try to continue to acquire. When I think of this journey … I think of Mr. [David] Glass and Dan Glass who helped sign him to multiyear contracts, twice. That doesn’t happen unless we have ownership that supports us.”

Gordon became a free agent after last season. But the Royals signed him back for 2020 on a one-year, $4 million deal.

“I know [owner John] Sherman was adamant last fall about bringing him back,” Moore said. “Alex means so much to all of us. The exciting thing to me, as we process this, is that we get to continue our relationship. Alex knows that he is forever a part of this franchise. And Alex knows that relationship is simply beginning.”

“[Moore] could have given up on me four or five times and he never did,” Gordon said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be sitting here. I am blessed to have him as my boss.”

With four games left, Gordon will leave his mark on the franchise’s record books:

• Third in walks (682)
• Fourth in home runs (190)
• Fifth in doubles (357)
• Fifth in extra-base hits (573)
• Sixth in games played (1,749)
• Sixth in runs (867)
• Sixth in hits (1,641)
• Sixth in RBIs (749)
• First in HBP (121)
• First in leadoff home runs (14)

Gordon also was a three-time Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and a Rawlings Platinum Gold Glove Award winner in 2014.

“No one has ever played outfield defense like he has,” Moore said recently. “He is without question the standard.”

Gordon had a resurgence in 2019, hitting .266 with 13 home runs with 76 RBIs and winning yet another Gold Glove Award. But while still playing elite defense, Gordon’s offensive numbers this season dipped. He is hitting .211 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

“But the example he sets for the younger players,” Moore said, “simply can’t be measured.”

What’s next for Gordon, who lives in suburban Kansas City?

“I don’t know what the future holds,” Gordon said. “I know I want to take some time off and spend time with my family. Hopefully I’ll be involved with the Royals in the future in some capacity. We’ll figure that out in the long run somewhere down the line.”