The nine-time All-Star second baseman for the Yankees and Indians and former American League Most Valuable Player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by one of the two Veterans Committees last December. And on Sunday, he will be inducted posthumously during the annual ceremonies behind the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Also being inducted are Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice, who were selected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in January.
Gordon, whose Major League career began in 1938, passed away at 63 in 1978.
"It's about time, and 40 years too late," Gordon's former teammate Jerry Coleman told MLB.com upon hearing the announcement on Dec. 7, 2008, during the Winter Meetings at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. "I voted for him and campaigned for him [for the Hall of Fame] every year. He was one of the greats of the game -- a truly brilliant defensive player. To me, he was the perfect second baseman, with his ability to turn the double play and hit for power in such a difficult hitter's park as Yankee Stadium. He made Phil Rizzuto and Lou Boudreau better. He wasn't just good, he was great."
Gordon was the only player selected out of 20 candidates considered by separate committees, one of which analyzed the careers of players who began playing prior to 1943, the other of players who played in '43 or after. He was picked by the 12-person committee surveying candidates from his era after receiving 10 votes, or 83.3 percent.
As in all Hall selections, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote, or, in the case of the pre-1943 slate, nine of 12. No player considered by the post-'42 committee -- names such as Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Gil Hodges and Luis Tiant -- was elected. Also on the ballot with Gordon were Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Sherry Magee, Carl Mays, Allie Reynolds, Vern Stephens, Mickey Vernon, Bucky Walters and Deacon White.
Gordon played seven seasons with the Yankees (1938-43 and '46) and four with the Indians ('47-50) and won his only MVP Award in '42, when he batted .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBIs. At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Gordon had solid power, hitting at least 20 home runs seven times and knocking in over 100 runs on four separate occasions.
Gordon played in six World Series, winning five championships -- four of which came as a Yankee. For his career, he hit .268 with 253 home runs and 975 RBIs. He missed the 1944 and '45 seasons while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.
"Joe Gordon was a real good guy and darn good ballplayer," said former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who played with Gordon in '46. "He was a big part of the Yankees in the '40s. When we traded him for Reynolds [after the '46 season], it was just one of those good exchanges. He helped Cleveland a lot, and Allie really helped us."
Added Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner: "[Gordon] was a great second baseman, a great Yankee and an inspiration to millions of Americans for many years."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.