Even in little league, Alex Gordon’s coach recognized his potential.
“I knew he was going to be something special,” Randy Brolhorst said. “You could see it already.”
Brolhorst coached Gordon at age 10 and then at Lincoln Southeast. And Gordon did indeed prove to be something special, going on to star with Nebraska and the Kansas City Royals.
Gordon started making a name for himself while in high school. He batted .483, had 25 homers and drove in 112 for Southeast while twice being named the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year.
Moving on to Nebraska, Gordon’s reputation grew.
During his junior year in 2005, he swept the collegiate baseball awards for player of the year and was an ESPY Award finalist for best male college athlete. He was named a first-team All-American for the second straight season and led the Huskers to their third College World Series.
Gordon was drafted that year by the Kansas City Royals with the second overall pick. In his first full minor league season in 2006, he was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year.
The third baseman made the major league squad in 2007 but was unable to duplicate his gaudy minor league numbers. Sky-high expectations by fans who compared him to Royals Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett added to the pressure.
A career-changing decision was made by the Royals front office in 2010 when Gordon was sent to the minor league Omaha Royals to learn how to play the outfield. Gordon worked with then-Royals roving field instructor Rusty Kuntz to make it happen.
Since that time, Gordon has transformed himself into one of the premier outfielders in the majors. He has won four consecutive Gold Glove Awards and played a major role last year — offensively and defensively — in getting the Royals to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
“Alex is the heart and soul of this team,” Kansas City pitcher Danny Duffy said. “He leads by example, and every team needs someone like that.”
Brolhorst, Gordon’s high school coach, said he feels honored to know he had something to do with Gordon’s place in Kansas City — and Nebraska — baseball lore.
“To see what Alex has accomplished has just been amazing,” the coach said. “There’s no doubt that he’s made our whole state proud.”
Related link: Nebraska royalty, on and off the field
Played for: Lincoln Southeast High School, JC Brager (American Legion), University of Nebraska, Wichita Wranglers (Double A), Kansas City Royals
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Gordon named Ty Gifford of Lincoln Southeast. Gifford was a finalist for The World-Herald’s Nebraska high school boys athlete of the year in 1999.
Best moment as an athlete: Gordon says is was intercepting a pass on the final play to preserve Southeast’s 14-7, double-overtime win over Omaha Creighton Prep in the 2000 Class A state football final.
Early sign of greatness: Gordon bashed a pair of home runs that each traveled more than 400 feet in the same American Legion game.