KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During perhaps his final press conference as a professional baseball player, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon reflected on his career Thursday after announcing his retirement earlier in the day.
From the 100-loss seasons to Kansas City's championship runs, Gordon, 36, said he'd never forget his first at-bat, a first-inning strikeout against Red Sox ace Curt Schilling on April 2, 2007, at Kauffman Stadium.
"It was opening day, I was batting five-hole and obviously Curt Schilling was pitching," Gordon said. "I thought I had a pretty good at-bat, you know — 3-2 count, fought off a couple fast balls, and then he threw his devastating splitter at me."
Especially during those early years, Gordon's career had its ups and downs, but he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
"I would've loved the journey if it just was all ups," Gordon, who grew up as a Royals fans in Lincoln, Nebraska, said. "That would've been great. Unfortunately, baseball is not like that. It's a game of failure. That's kind of my mentality of not feeling sorry for myself and just going out there and putting in the work."
It was a tough decision to retire, one Gordon had contemplated after last season, but Gordon's love for his teammates and the energy from the young players on the Royals' team prompted him to return for 2020.
"That's one of the reason's I came back, because of my teammates and I felt like this team was on the cusp of winning again and I wanted to be apart of it," Gordon said.
Once COVID-19 shutdowns started across the country, Gordon knew it was time.
"After the whole shutdown, once we got kind of got back going, I kind of knew that this was it," he said.
Gordon also thanked Kansas City's fans for their support during a career that includes seven Gold Gloves and three All-Star Game appearances.
"I want to thank the fans and the community of Kansas City," he said. "You guys have always been great to me since day one. I'll never forget that throughout the good times and the bad times team-wise, and me personally, you guys were always cheering us on."
Gordon said the desire to spend more time with his wife, Jaime, and their three children is a big reason for the timing of his retirement.
Gordon — whose ninth-inning, game-tying home run in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series will go down as the most iconic moment of his 14-year career — singled out Royals General Manager Dayton Moore for heavy praise during his opening remarks.
"Those of you who that have grown up with Alex Gordon, he is the same today as he was in 2007 when he broke into the major leagues," Moore said. "I can honestly tell you he's the exact same player."
Manager Mike Matheny praised Gordon's professionalism and clubhouse presence.
"To see his impact and the way that he goes about his business, the way that he works, that's really well documented," Matheny said. "I don't think what is as reported is the care level he has for the game, for himself, for the Kansas City Royals.
Matheny continued, "It has been an honor and a pleasure to be able to get to know the person more so than the player, and I just want to thank Alex for the impact that he's made around here."
So, what's next for Gordon? He plans to hit he the links and work on his golf game, binge eat Minsky's pizza and spend time with family.
He's also "looking forward to sitting on my couch and drinking a beer," while watching the young Royals chase another title in the near future.
Moore said once fans are allowed back into Kauffman Stadium there will "definitely" be an Alex Gordon Day, giving Kansas City a chance to express its appreciation.