Born: Nov 18, 1967
When your name is Gordon, you have to expect the nickname "Flash." Tom Gordon earned that sobriquet with a spectacular rookie season in 1989, winning 17 games for the Kansas City Royals and being named American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. Things went downhill pretty quickly, though. The diminuitive Gordon struggled in 1990, and spent the next three seasons bouncing between the starting rotation and bullpen in Kansas City.
Gordon regained enough consistency to pitch solely as a starter in 1994 and 1995, but he was never able to recapture the level of success as a starter that he'd reached as a rookie. Following the 1995 season, Gordon left the Royals as a free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox.
After struggling through another season as a starter, Gordon found his niche in Boston's bullpen. Given a chance to in late 1997 to take over the closer's role, he seized the opportunity and made the job his own. After nine unspectacular seasons, he suddenly set the league on fire in 1998. Gordon set a major league record by recording 43 consecutive saves, and his 46 total saves set a Boston club record. He was named to the All-Star team and won the Rolaids award as the best reliever in the American League. A shoulder injury cost him most of the 1999 season, and there were concerns not only about the proper treatment for the injury, but also whether or not he would be able to return.
Gordon found his way to Houston as a deadline acquisition in 2002, where he posted a 3.32 ERA in 19 relief innings. He hung around for over 20 years in the majors and was still relevant in 2008 as a set-up man for the World Champion Phillies.
Gordon was memorialized in an odd way when the popular novelist Stephen King used him in his book, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.