They might actually build a statue for Alex Gordon in Kansas City.
The Royals standout outfield, who has played his entire MLB career with the club, connected on the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning during Game 1 of the World Series. Kansas City went on to win the game 5-4 over the New York Mets in a 14-inning, history-making matchup.
After a disappointing end to last year’s World Series, Gordon is hoping that he can do more than just tie up one game. He’s hoping to lead his team to a championship.
Here’s what you need to know about the Nebraska native and his road to postseason, statue-building glory:
1. Gordon Grew Up in Nebraska & Played Baseball at the University of Nebraska
Gordon grew up in a baseball-loving family in Lincoln, Nebraska and has been swinging a bat for as long as he can remember. He graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School in 2002 after hitting .483 with 25 home runs and 112 RBI. Gordon was a two-time Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year.
Despite offers from Baylor and Tennessee, Gordon opted to stay close to home and attended the University of Nebraska, where he staged one of the most impressive careers in Cornhuskers history.
In his junior year, playing third base, Gordon swept the collegiate baseball awards for college player of the year, winning the Dick Howser Trophy, Golden Spikes Award, the Brooks Wallace Award and the ABCA Rawlings Player of the Year. He was also nominated for an ESPY as Best Male College Athlete.
By the time he left the program, Gordon posted a .353 career average, connecting on 44 home runs and 189 RBI, drawing 139 walks and striking out just 106 total times. He was only the second two-time 1st-team All-American in Nebraska history.
2. He Played for the 2004 U.S. National Team
Taking a break from the college game, Gordon joined the 2004 U.S. National Team and helped lead the squad to an 18-7 overall record in international play.
The 2004 team brought together some of the top college names in the country and now rads like a who’s-who of MLB stars. In addition to Gordon the team included Troy Tulowitzki, Jed Lowrie and Cesar Ramos.
Gordon played mostly at first base and hit .388 with four home runs, 12 RBI and 18 runs scored in 24 games before being named the top offensive player at the World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan. During the Championship, Gordon hit an almost-ridiculous .524 with two home runs, five RBI and eight runs scored.
3. Gordon Was Drafted No. 2 Overall by the Royals in 2005
Gordon was drafted No. 2 overall by the Kansas City Royals in the 2005 MLB Draft, becoming the first native Nebraska player to be selected in the first round. He was the second highest drafted player in Cornhusker history after Darin Erstad went No. 1 overall in 1995.
In what Royals fans would come to realize was true Gordon fashion, the then-Nebraska third baseman didn’t hear his name called in the Draft. He had practice. Gordon explained the choice:
I told (Nebraska coach Mike Anderson) no. We’ve got better things to worry about. We need to get out here and practice, get ready for Miami. That’s what I wanted to do. I’m excited, very excited. I’ve been working for it my whole life. I think the hard work has finally paid off.
Gordon declined a chance to play for Team USA in 2006, opting instead to focus on his minor league career with the Wichita Wrangers. In his first full minor league season, Gordon was named Texas League Player of the Year awarded to the best player and Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year award.
4. He & Jamie Gordon Are Parents to Two Children
It’s all-Nebraska, all-the-time in the Gordon household.
Alex and his wife, Jamie, both attended the University of Nebraska and were actually students when they first met. Jamie earned her bachelor’s in education at Nebraska before going on to get her masters at Kansas.
The pair got engaged in December 2007 and were married in 2008 before welcoming their first son, Max, in September 2010. The Gordon family got a brand-new member, a second son, Sam, in August 2014. Although the Gordon family lives in Kansas City during the season, the family still calls Nebraska its permanent home. Alex explained the decision to Huskers athletics:
Jamie grew up in Lincoln, too. She got her bachelor’s in education at Nebraska and got her master’s at Kansas. Raising children is a full-time job. Her family lives in Lincoln and mine does, too. Lincoln has that home-town feel for both of us. When you grow up in Lincoln, it feels like home whenever you go back.
Jamie regularly works with other Royals wives on a handful of charity endeavors throughout the course of the season, including the team’s annual coat drive.
5. Gordon Came Back From a Groin Injury This Year
It hasn’t exactly been a picture-perfect season for Gordon. The Royals All-Star left fielder left a July game with a groin injury and was forced to be carted off the field. Replays of the play showed Gordon’s left knee or ankle buckle as he sprinted after a line drive from Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe.
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost described the moment after the game:
[Gordon] wasn’t communicating much. I didn’t know what had happened. I saw the ball bounce off the wall and I’m thinking, ‘OK, there’s the double.’ And then I’m like what happened? I didn’t know if he fell on his shoulder, I didn’t know if it was his knee or his ankle, and when we got out there, he said it was his groin. He heard it pop, which isn’t a good thing. I don’t think … the doctors didn’t feel like it was detached from the bone, which is a good thing, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Gordon, officially, suffered a Grade 2-plus strain of his left groin and was forced to miss the All-Star game as a result. The Royals standout rehabed with Class AAA Omaha from August 23 until making his return to the big leagues on September 1.