KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals announced on Thursday that outfielder Alex Gordon is retiring from baseball.
Gordon, who spent his entire 14-year career with the Royals, was a former first-round pick who went from a near bust to an All-Star and Gold Glove winner.
He said during a Zoom news conference Thursday that the pandemic reinforced his feelings that he wants to spend more time with his family and “catch up on things I’ve missed my whole life.” He turns 37 in February.
“It’s hard. I think any baseball player would say that,” Gordon said. “You grow up playing this game, it’s a game you love, but you come to that day when you know it’s over — it’s hard.”
Gordon re-signed with the Royals on a $4 million, one-year contract after his $72 million, four-year deal expired following the 2019 season.
His big contract, signed after Kansas City won the 2015 World Series, was a popular move at the time. But both Gordon and the Royals quickly declined.
Gordon thought about retirement last year, when the Royals were hiring Mike Matheny to replace his longtime manager, Ned Yost, and the team appeared to be rebuilding. But with teammates such as Danny Duffy and Salvador Perez still in the clubhouse, Gordon decided to keep playing for a team he believes is on the cusp of winning.
That changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the game shut down, Gordon knew this would be the end.
“I feel like at the end of the day, I’m missing my kids and their activities more than I’m going to miss this,” he said. “It’s kind of bittersweet because this is hard for me to do. This is what I’ve done my whole life. but at the same time I’m excited to be around my family, be around my kids, and just catch up on things I’ve missed my whole life.”
Gordon said his immediate plans are to hit the links. He often plays golf with teammates Whit Merrifield and Greg Holland during the season, and the left-handed Gordon wants to finally beat them by this time next year.
And, after diligently adhering to a healthy diet, he’s dying for some pizza.
“It’s very difficult to articulate your feelings and emotions at a time like this,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said, “but Alex has set the bar on the field, off the field. His work ethic and commitment truly has reached legendary status.”
Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Royals and has since become one of the most popular players in the franchise’s half-century existence.
“You always had respect and admiration for the way Alex played the game,” Matheny said, “but also the way he wore the jersey. He’s one of the players that embodied a style and excellence that comes with the brand of the Kansas City Royals.”