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Gordon was a 20-year old pitcher at the beginning
of 1988 when he was an Appleton Fox. By
the end of that baseball season he was in the major leagues, pitching for the
Kansas Royals. He was a sixth round
pick of the Royals in 1986 and he is currently a free agent after an
injury-plagued season with the Arizona Diamondback.
To have a rise that fast and a
career of that length makes us want to take a look back 22 years to two games in
his Midwest League career that showed what a special player Flash Gordon was
when he was with
The first article is a game
story written by Dan Vanderpas after the game between the Foxes and the
Burlington Braves on May 16, 1988. It
appeared in the May 17 edition of the Appleton
The second article is from the
May 22 edition and appears to be a wire report - with a little local rework by
an unnamed PC writer - of the May 21 Foxes' game in Waterloo against the
Foxes get to eat cake
There was a birthday bash at
Goodland Field Monday night.
Appleton Foxes manager Brian
Poldberg and pitcher Tim
Odom celebrated birthdays, and thanks to Tom Gordon, they had their cake and
ate it, too.
Gordon presented the team with
a gift of a 16-strikeout, 3-1 gem over the Burlington
Gordon, a 20-year-old native of
, went the distance in reducing his earned-run average to 1.33 in 54.2 innings.
He now has 78 strikeouts. He
threw 127 pitches and scattered six hits.
scored three runs in the second to provide the steady Gordon with all the runs
"The more they (his
teammates) hit the ball, the better I felt," said Gordon after the game as
teammates around him chomped on birthday cake.
"It was just my team helping me and me helping my team.
"You can do a lot with a
3-run lead because they've got to play catch-up ball.
In baseball three runs is not a lot, but if you've got a good pitcher
on the mound you can fairly get by most teams."
The quick, but cold, 2-hour,
8-minute game also featured strong pitching from
Karasinski. It was the first
start for the 22-year-old hurler from
. Karasinski struck out eight.
The Foxes used five singles,
including two up the middle, to go on top 3-0 in the second.
Howard knocked in the first run and Terry
Shumpert drove in the next two.
Karasinski lamented that he
didn't get down in time to field Shumpert's hit up the middle.
"I would have rather fielded
those ground balls in the second inning and maybe we'd still be playing," he
said. "I thought the ball was hit
harder than it was."
Said Shumpert: "I think he (Karasinski)
got better in the later innings. His
breaking pitch started breaking a little sharper."
Shortstop Dave Howard, whose
pitched with the White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Senators in the
1960's, said: "Tommy shouldn't be here.
After every game he pitches I tell him, 'I'll see you next year,'
because I think he's going to Memphis (AA) after every outing, he's pitching
threatened often, but didn't spoil Gordon's shutout until the eighth.
In the third, Brian
Deak walked to start the inning. After
Tomberlin struck out, Steve
's first hit, a single to put runners on the corners.
Glass hit a 1-and-2 pitch to right. Then
Gordon struck out leadoff man Sean
Ross and Rich
Casarotti to end the threat.
"I just feel really relaxed
at the plate," said Glass, who accounted for three of
's six hits. "I am just trying
to hit the ball hard and luckily it's falling for me.
"He (Gordon) did have a lot
of good stuff. I just got lucky
because I hit his hitter's pitches instead of me swinging at his pitcher's
pitches. He's the fastest pitcher
we've seen so far."
Martin struck out but went to first on a
third-strike wild pitch in
's eighth. Martin stole second and
went to third on catcher Jorge
Pedre's throwing error. With
two out, John
Mitchell singled up the middle to drive Martin home.
Then Gordon made Deak his 15th strikeout victim for the third
"I wanted the shutout, but we
need to win," Gordon said. "I
like to have a shutout and someday we'll come up with it, but we need to win
and that's basically what I'm working on trying to help the team."
Poldberg said: "We haven't
had too many quick games lately, but when Tommy comes out there and you score a
couple of runs you have a good chance of winning the game."
"Right now (to be called up),
it's just a matter of him getting command of himself because the higher up he
goes a lot of hitters will be taking the high fastballs that the younger hitters
are swinging at."
Gordon's 19 strikeouts wasted in Foxes'
- What's a guy got to do to get a win?
That's what Appleton Foxes
pitcher Tom Gordon must be wondering after the Foxes' game Saturday afternoon
Gordon struck out 19 batters
- three short of the Midwest League record - and held the Indians to one hit
through seven innings only to have
score five runs off Foxes' relief pitchers and win 5-4.
The Foxes right-hander gave way
Drezek in the eighth inning with a 3-0 lead after he reached the 130-pitch
limit set by Foxes manager Brian Poldberg. Drezek
promptly walked the first three batters he faced and was replaced by Keith
The Indians' Roman
Bautista greeted Shibata with an RBI single, and Troy
Neel followed with a 2-run single to tie the score at 3-3.
Shibata balked in a run and was replaced by Brian
Meyers, who gave up an RBI single to Bill
Knarleski to give
a 5-3 lead.
The Foxes' scored one run in
the ninth when David Howard collected his fourth hit of the game, went to third
Knecht's third hit and scored when Jeff
Baum reached on an error.
relief pitcher John
Olin then struck out Don
Wright and Tom
Watkins to end the game.
Gordon's 19-strikeout total
included streaks of five, six, and seven batters during the game, which narrowly
missed the league record of eight consecutive strikeouts.
Khoury broke up Gordon's streak of
seven strikeouts with a popup to third in the seventh inning - the first ball
that had been hit fair since Knarleski's 2-out single in the third.
built its 3-0 lead by scoring single runs in the second, third, and sixth
Wright singled to open the
second inning, stole a base, and scored on Doug
Bock's RBI single. In the
Gainous doubled and scored on Knecht's single.
Howard scored on a ground out in the sixth after he hit a 2-out double.
starting pitcher Angel
Ortiz improved his record to 4-1 with the win.
He struck out 13 batters before giving way to Olin, who recorded his
The Foxes will close out their
4-game series with the Indians with a 1:30 p.m. game today in
will then play a four game series in
to close out an 8-game road trip before returning home.
The Foxes will play
at Goodland Field this Friday at 7 p.m. to start a 7-game homestand, which will
include two games with
and one with
1. A 130-pitch limit?
Gordon has a 22 major league year career.
Good thing It wasn't a 150-pitch limit or he might have only pitched
for 15 years. If my math is correct, Gordon tossed 257 pitches in those
two games, which were played four days apart.
2. The Midwest League Record
Book lists Robert Sprout of
as the holder of the record for most strikeouts in a game.
Sprout had 22 strikeouts in a game on August 18, 1960 against
3. A couple of inconsistencies:
Story number one states that Gordon had 16 strikeouts.
The Midwest League Record Book has Gordon with 17 K's in that game.
Story number two mentions that eight consecutive strikeouts is the
record. The MWLRB notes that Art
struck out 10 straight
batters in a game on May 22, 1966.
4. The MWLRB has Gordon holding
the league record for MOST STRIKEOUTS, TWO CONSECUTIVE GAMES: 36.
5. The following
players mentioned in the articles above made it to the big leagues. Gordon,
Shumpert, Pedre, Howard.
6. The following opponents
mentioned in the articles above made it to the big leagues:
: Al Martin, Andy Tomberlin;
: Troy Neel and John Olin (who is listed as Steve Olin at Baseball Reference).
7. It is interesting that
Gordon, a pitcher, was a teammate of David Howard, a shortstop.
As mentioned in the first article, David Howard was the son of Bruce
Howard, a former Major League Pitcher. Twenty-one
years later, the Gordon's son, Dee
played shortstop for the Great Lakes Loons.
8. One other interesting note:
Tom Gordon was Baseball
's Top Prospect in all of baseball for the 1988 season.
Dee Gordon was voted as the Top Prospect of the Midwest League.
9. One last interesting note:
Dee Gordon was born on April 22, 1988, one month before his father's 19
strikeout performance in
Previous Flashback Fridays:
Organist at Goodland Field
The Next Unit
The Beginning of the End
Craig Kuzmic x 9
Foxes in SI
Ready for 1960
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.