Tom Gordon

1989 Upper Deck

1989 Upper Deck

Another one of those key 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers rookies, this guy was HIGHLY sought-after in my trading circles. It’s kind of amusing when I think about what Gordon eventually became, especially those years with the Red Sox. I can still remember the night I traded for this one in our library basement club. I took it home and immediately put it in a hard case. Now THIS guy was certainly going to be a superstar! And look at that photo! That delivery! It became another one of those iconic images of my baseball youth.
But how good was Gordon when this card came out? Was the hype warranted? I was curious, so I went back and looked at his numbers. The answer? Uh, HELL YES. In 1988, at three levels, Gordon was 16-5 with a 1.59 ERA, and a mind-blowing 0.92 WHIP. He also cleaned up at the ML level in 1989 before tailing off into mediocrity over the next few years. I mean, he had some amazing years when he was reinvented as a closer, but nothing can touch that early brilliance. My guess is injuries took their toll over time. Of course, that was one of the concerns about him as a rookie: too small to make it long-term. But hey, 20 years later and he’s still around. Go Flash!

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