John Gordon: Ready for a final touch

Signing off for good after 25 seasons as the radio voice of the Twins, John Gordon called two World Series and helped his community.

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Broadcast announcer John Gordon at the Twins game Thursday vs. Seattle.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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John Gordon is known for his trademark home run call, "touch 'em all!" It was developed in the early 1980's while calling games for the Yankees with Phil Rizzuto.

There was one "touch 'em all" call per homer. Only once did he say it twice: Kirby Puckett's home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.

He has another call, one that he makes after the microphones have been turned off: "That's all there is. There is NO more!" It bounces off the walls of his booth at the end every broadcast.

It would be appropriate for him use it on air Wednesday night as he calls his final game before retiring after his 25th season with the Twins.

Gordon, 71, will be honored once again before Wednesday's game. Bert Blyleven, Dan Gladden, Dick Bremer and current Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre will deliver speeches, and a video tribute from sportscasters around the country will be played.

"Gordo's the best," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "Growing up, being a Minnesota kid, you think of summer when you hear his voice and Twins baseball."

Gordon tried pitching as youngster, and it didn't go well. At the end of what he described as "a mediocre career," he studied broadcasting at the University of Indiana. His first job out of college was calling games for a Phillies affiliate in Spartansburg, Pa., in 1965. From there he called games for the Orioles, the University of Virginia, then the Yankees' Class AAA affiliate in Columbus, Ohio. He was promoted to the Yankees in 1982, and stayed with the club through 1986.

Gordon flew to Minnesota around Christmas of 1986 to interview with the Twins. Tom Kelly, the interim manager in 1986, was on the same flight coming from New Jersey to interview for a permanent position.

"We recognized each other on the airplane." Gordon said. They had an auspicious debut: The Twins were World Series champs in 1987.

Gordon, who grew up in Detroit listening to the legendary Ernie Harwell, couldn't have been hooked up with two more different personalities in the booth -- the late Herb Carneal at first, followed by Dan Gladden for the past 11 seasons.

"I don't want to say it was a difference of night and day, because it makes night look better than day and day look better than night," Gordon said. "It wasn't. Night was wonderful. Day was wonderful. ... We changed the personality of the broadcast when Danny came on. With Herb we were more traditional. When Danny came on we became contemporary."

Gordon has been extremely active in the community behind the scenes. For 18 years, he held the "Touch 'em All" charity golf tournament, raising about $500,000 for nonprofits, including the Twins Community Fund and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The FCA gave him a Waterford crystal after the final tournament earlier this month.

"John Gordon will go down as one of the greatest characters in the history of our franchise," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "His love of the game, one-of-a-kind broadcasting style and passion for Twins Radio Network affiliates made him the ultimate team ambassador."

Gordon never has added up the games he has called in his career, but if he's called Twins games for 25 years it would be more than 3,000 if he averaged at least 120 games a year. Even with a lightened workload the past couple of years, it's safe to assume Gordon has called at least that many.

Gordon and his wife Nancy have plenty planned after the season, with traveling and remaining active atop the list. He is not shutting down, he says, just moving on.

Earlier this month, Gordon and Gladden were preparing to call a game against the Royals in Kansas City on a perfect night for baseball. Gladden turned to Gordon and said, "You can't tell me you're not going to miss this."

"I got to think about it afterwards,'' Gordon said. "I said to myself, 'I've seen this before.' It's not the first time I've seen a perfect setting for a baseball game. I've been fortunate to be in the position I'm in -- to sit down and make a living broadcasting baseball."

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