The acrobatic Joe Gordon would be remembered for his defensive skills alone, but he was also a powerful and timely hitter. He holds the AL second basemen’s records for career HR (246) and HR in a season (32 in 1948). The low-key, humorous player emerged from the Yankee system to take Tony Lazzeri‘s place. He hit for the cycle on September 8, 1940. In the 1941 World Series Gordon snuffed out Dodger rallies with his glove and went 7-for-14 with a .929 slugging average.
In 1942 Gordon was the AL MVP, hitting .322 with 103 RBI. The eight-time All-Star missed two seasons for army service. He hit just .210 when he returned in 1946, and after exactly 1,000 games and 1,000 hits for the Yankees, was traded to Cleveland for Allie Reynolds. His hitting form returned, with career highs of 32 HR and 124 RBI in 1948, as he teamed with Lou Boudreau for a pennant and Gordon’s sixth World Series.
Gordon was named Cleveland manager in 1958 and the Indians finished second in 1959. In 1960 he was part of baseball’s most unusual trade when the Indians and Tigers swapped managers, with Gordon and Jimmy Dykes trading places. Gordon managed the Kansas City A’s for part of 1961 and the Kansas City Royals for all of their maiden 1969 season.