Let the record show: John Gordon’s ceremonial first pitch Sunday wound up at the backstop. Just the way his longtime broadcasting partner, Dan Gladden, planned it.
Gladden, serving as catcher for the event at the end of Gordon’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, allowed the slightly-out-of-the-strike-zone pitch to whiz past, one last prank added to their 12-year history in the booth. During his induction speech, the 76-year-old Gordon compared he and his partner to Laurel and Hardy, and thanked “the Dazzle Man for 12 years of broadcast bliss. … Well, almost.”
But Gordon, whose “touch ’em all” signature call served as the soundtrack for some of the greatest moments in Twins history over his 25 seasons in their radio booth, turned serious when he talked about his philosophy as a broadcaster, and the man who gave him his most influential piece of advice: His father, Otto.
“My dad had a passion for the game of baseball, and the advice he gave me more than any other was: ‘Johnny, you never know who might be listening,’ ” Gordon said. As proof, he read excerpts from two letters he received during his career, one from a listener in remote South Dakota who was “transported” by his call of Kirby Puckett’s winning home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series; the other from a single mother of four sons, who learned the language of baseball by listening to his Twins broadcasts.
“I’m truly honored and very proud to be here today,” Gordon said after becoming the 28th member of the Twins Hall of Fame.
Sunday also featured taped tributes from fellow broadcasters and fans, including one from the Hall of Fame voice of the Brewers, Bob Uecker. “Your plaque is outside the building — so what?” Uecker deadpanned. “They’ll cover it, and I’m sure it’ll last for a couple of years.”
Leave the umps alone
Paul Molitor has only been ejected four times in his 1½ seasons managing the Twins, all for arguing over balls and strikes. It’s not many, and MLB wants to keep it that way.
Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, sent a memo to all managers, general managers and assistant GMs on Friday, according to the Associated Press, admonishing them to stop haranguing umpires to the point of ejection, which he called “highly inappropriate conduct. … [which] not only delays the game, but has the propensity to undermine the integrity of the umpires.”
Specifically, Torre is concerned players and managers are consulting their teams’ replay-review assistants in order to further their argument, which he said is against replay rules.
Molitor said he wasn’t aware that ejections have risen this season — his only one of 2016 came May 4 — but he understands Torre’s concern. “I know there’s a concern about the fact that we have better video access, that people are going up and checking pitches and coming back and using that as arsenal,” Molitor said. “To use video, to say ‘You missed that pitch on Sano, it was three inches outside back in the fourth inning.’ I understand the point he’s trying to make.”
Eduardo Nunez was back in the lineup Sunday, even after taking a hard grounder to the chest in the 10th inning Saturday night. Somehow, the shortstop managed to start a critical double play, even though he said he couldn’t breathe after the impact.
“I didn’t get my glove on it, so it hit hard. I’m rolling on the ground, trying to breathe,” Nunez said.
The All-Star laid on the ground for a couple minutes, but remained in the game. Didn’t get much sympathy, though. “My teammates were making fun of me in the dugout,” he laughed.