Retiring Gordon thankful to Twins, fans
'Touch 'Em All' home run call put broadcaster on the map
MINNEAPOLIS -- John Gordon and his signature "Touch 'Em All" home run call have been synonymous with Minnesota Twins broadcasts since his first year with the club in 1987.
It was that season the Twins finally broke through with the franchise's first World Series title, and Gordon established himself as a beloved radio announcer to listeners in the upper Midwest.
But after 25 years, Gordon's time with the Twins is coming to a close, as the broadcaster is set to retire at the end of the season.
"My wife, Nancy, and I decided that after 25 years with the Twins and 43 years in professional baseball, it was time," said Gordon, who added health has nothing to do with his decision. "We were looking for the opportunity to retire, and I did not want to continue on for the rest of my life. There was a time for me to retire, and after 43 years, I decided to make the decision to retire."
Gordon, 71, has seen his fair share of baseball over the years, starting his broadcasting career with the Spartanburg Phillies in 1965 after graduating from Indiana University.
The Detroit native then had stints with the Orioles, the University of Virginia and the Yankees before joining the Twins' broadcast crew in 1987 along with the late Herb Carneal, who passed away before the 2007 season.
His trademark phrase of "Touch 'Em All" when a Twins player homered immediately caught on, and he became a hit with listeners because of the emotional aspect he brought to the broadcast.
"I was really fortunate, because when I joined the Twins in '87, they had a bunch of home run hitters," said Gordon, who credited Dick Enberg for using the "Touch 'Em All" phrase first. "They had three players hit 30 or more and [Kirby] Puckett hitting 28, so being at the microphone and saying 'Touch 'Em All' kind of just caught on with the listening audience. So it was kind of a break for me."
But it was in 1991 when Gordon made perhaps his most famous call, when Puckett hit a game-winning homer in Game 6 of the World Series to send the Fall Classic to a seventh game, which the Twins won for their second championship.
Gordon said "Touch 'Em All, Kirby Puckett" twice and maintains it's the only time he's said the phrase more than once to describe a Twins homer.
"I was really fortunate, because when I joined the Twins in '87, they had a bunch of home run hitters. They had three players hit 30 or more and [Kirby] Puckett hitting 28, so being at the microphone and saying 'Touch 'Em All' kind of just caught on with the listening audience. So it was kind of a break for me."
|-- John Gordon|
He said calling the franchise's two World Series titles were his favorite moments during his career with the Twins, but added it's been fun watching the club go to the postseason six times in recent years under manager Ron Gardenhire.
"Any time you have the opportunity to follow a team and work with a team that wins a world championship is a great thrill," Gordon said. "And just the playoff runs and the seasons from 2002 to this year were a great experience. It's not every year you have a chance to vie for a championship, but the Twins always seem to put a contending team on the field."
Gardenhire, who joined the Twins in 1991 as the club's third-base coach, had nothing but kind words to say about Gordon, even though he joked he only has a chance to listen to him when he gets ejected from games.
"I think the booming voice that has been known throughout Twins Territory is going to be missed," Gardenhire said. "He describes the game like not too many can. It's a pleasure to listen to him. He has that make-you-feel-good voice. His home run call of 'Touch 'Em All' is as special as any and won't be forgotten around here, and so we're going to miss him."
Twins players also said they'll miss Gordon, whose been a fixture with the club, because he travels with the team and appears at many charity events like the Twins Winter Caravan every year.
Catcher Joe Mauer said he'll always have a soft spot for Gordon, because he listened to him growing up as a Twins fan in St. Paul, Minn.
"Growing up here, he reminds me of summer," Mauer said. "Being a kid in Minnesota having a barbecue or being outside, I remember turning on the radio and hearing his voice. So when I hear him talk, I always think of summers growing up in Minnesota."
Reliever Glen Perkins, who also grew up locally in Stillwater, Minn., added that Gordon has a great sense of humor and enjoyed getting to know him during the season and at the Twins Caravan over the years.
"I think in the last five or six years, I've really got to know him better," Perkins said. "So getting to know him on that level is neat. I know he's been doing it for a long time and so he'll be missed."
Gordon, who limited his workload to 90 Twins broadcasts alongside partner Dan Gladden this season, will be honored by many more in a special pregame ceremony on Saturday at Target Field.
The ceremony is set to highlight his famous calls and will feature a video tribute from Twins players and staff before ending with a speech from Gordon.
Gordon said he considers himself blessed to be honored by the Twins and that he owes his success to the support of fans who make up Twins Territory in the upper Midwest.
"I'm going to have an opportunity to thank the Minnesota Twins organization for giving me an opportunity to broadcast games for 25 years," Gordon said. "I have to thank a lot of people, but I think the biggest thanks will go out to the fans. They've been so loyal and so wrapped up in Minnesota Twins baseball."