Dee is the son of former big league reliever Tom "Flash" Gordon.
Dee was a hoop star and didn't play baseball until his senior year of high school. But by the time he attended Southeastern University in Florida, he was convinced he could be a Major League Baseball player. By then, Dee had already been working out with his Dad's Phillies teammates.
As a Royals farmhand, Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson once roomed with Tom Gordon, who tipped off Watson about his son. Los Angeles liked what it saw in workouts.
Tom Gordon says his son shifted his focus from basketball to baseball around his junior year of high school. And Tom had roomed with Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson in the minors when Dee was born, and he tipped Watson off about his son.
Dee Gordon was formerly known as Devaris Strange-Gordon.
In 2008, the Dodgers drafted Gordon (see Transactions below).
In 2009, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Devaris as the 7th-best prospect in the Dodgers' organization. But in the winter before 2010 spring training, they had Gordon as the #1 prospect in the Dodger farm system. And they still had Dee at #1 in the spring of 2011.
At the end of the 2009 season, Dee was named Prospect of the Year in the Midwest League, while also sharing the loop's MVP honor with OF Kyle Russell.
Tom Gordon says he and his son have talked about what it would be like to face each other in a big league game.
"He says, 'I ain't too far away; I'll get a chance,'" Gordon said. "'That first pitch fastball, I'm going to line that into left. Or I know you, you'll throw me a curveball.'" After that, Gordon says, his focus will change. "I want to face him," Gordon said, "and then retire and watch him."
Devaris is very thin, but with wide shoulders. He is one of those guys who really has trouble gaining weight. In 2009, he would often eat five or six meals a day, but still not add pounds.
In 2009, Dee was named the Dodgers' Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. And he shared the 2009 Midwest League MVP award with Great Lakes teammate Kyle Russell. Gordon led the circuit in steals (73) and triples (12), finished second in hits (162), and seventh in batting.
Gordon's guilty pleasure: "Shoes. I have close to 450 pairs. I've been collecting them since high school," Dee said during the 2012 season.
In 2012, Dee was the Opening Day shortstop after a strong rookie half season with the Dodgers the second half of 2011. But his bat regressed, he tore up his thumb, the Dodgers dealt for Hanley Ramirez, and Gordon's career hit the wall.
Called up to L.A. for the last month of the 2013 season, Gordon said, "I know I'm a better player. I'm definitely a stronger man for this. I'm not trying to pull the God card, but I'm better with God, too. I can definitely say this: good has come out of this." (9/01/13)
- When Dee debuted in the Major Leagues in 2011, he weighed 144 pounds. But in 2014, he reported to spring training at an all-time high of 173. How did he do that?
"I eat six meals a day," he said. "I've done this on my own. I just want to be stronger. I was nervous that it would slow me down, but I played in Puerto Rico and I saw that nothing happened to my speed. That was a relief. And I'm hitting the ball with more authority."
"You know his speed can play," said manager Don Mattingly. "Can he make the everyday play and get on consistently to let his speed play? Inconsistency has been the biggest thing." (Ken Gurnick - MLB.com - 2/11/14)
Dad wasn't around much while Dee grew up, but the Dodgers' second baseman has always been fine with it. Dad chose the life of a professional baseball player, and he turned into a real good one, Tom "Flash" Gordon's 21-year career was highlighted by three All-Star Games, a Rolaids Relief Award, and more than $55 million in earnings.
Dee has followed in the family business, reinventing himself in 2014 as a rangy second baseman and base-stealing leadoff hitter after his shortstop career was short-circuited by injury and the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez.
Dee said it never bothered him that Dad was away at Spring Training or on the road or playing in one of his eight "home" cities until retiring in 2009. Dee would join him when school let out for the summer and share him with the rest of the family in the winter.
"When I was young, he was playing and trying to establish himself the way I'm doing now, and I always respect that," said Dee. "He had to work hard to feed me and my three sisters and two brothers. I always understood that and I wasn't going to be selfish because I needed my Dad. He always made sure I had a big support group. Really, I didn't need much. With all I went through, I grew up a strong kid."
And Dee had greater challenges growing up than his father being away a lot. Dee was born two months premature, weighing four pounds, two ounces. And when he was only 6 years old, his mother was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend.
Dee was raised mostly by his grandmother and uncles, who taught him as much about baseball and life as his father did. Battling his way back to the Major Leagues this year, 2 1/2 years after he did it for the first time, is par for the course for Gordon, who is 30 pounds heavier and at least that much stronger than when he was first called up in 2011.
"I've been fighting since the day I was born," he said. "They doubted I would live. I've been doubted my whole life." (Ken Gurnick MLB.com, 6/13/2014)
Dee said he and Dad are similar in other ways besides baseball. "Dad came to see me in New York a few weeks ago and we spent some time just walking around, because he said he never did that in all the years he played, and he even played for the Yankees," said Dee. "He was always so focused and determined to be great, he didn't do anything but play.
"It's weird, but I'm about the same way, too. When I first came up, I liked to have fun. But it didn't mesh with me playing. I've learned from him to relax, rest, stay out of trouble, and it helps me play better."
Davey Lopes, Los Angeles’ first-base coach and resident baserunning guru, compares Gordon favorably with Juan Pierre, a born worker who parlayed modest skills and plus speed into 2,217 career hits and 614 stolen bases. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly also opts for a lefthanded-hitting outfielder, but he prefers a guy who outran a reputation as a suspect hitter to make two all-star teams and sign a $48 million contract with the Indians.
"I look at him like a Michael Bourn,” Mattingly said. “When I first saw Michael, you could almost knock the bat out of his hands. But he got better and better, and all of a sudden this guy was a pain in the butt to get out. To me, that’s where Dee is going.”
Dee needed some words of advice to cling to when the majors threatened to overwhelm him and his prospect aura was beginning to fade.
“Struggles are good because they help you learn,” Gordon said. “I remember my Dad telling me how to be professional and saying, ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’ I’m more tough-minded than I used to be. I used to let it get to me if I struggled. Now it’s just part of the game.” (Jerry Crasnick - Baseball America - 6/20/14)
In 2014, Dee was named the Dodgers' winner for the Heart & Hustle Award by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. (7/22/14)
In 2014, Dee's brother, Nick, was a first-round draft pick by the Twins.
At age 15, Dee played against Kevin Durant in basketball. Dee says Durant single-handedly destroyed his team. Gordon says he did not like playing baseball as much as other sports as a youth because girls did not come to the games.
In 2015, Gordon was selected to start in the All-Star Game. But he could not play due to an injury.
When Odubel Herrera blistered a foul ball that struck an elderly woman at Marlins Park, Dee felt compelled to do something. So between innings, the All-Star headed straight to the woman to see if she was all right.
Even after being reassured she would be fine, Gordon still wanted to make sure. So after the game, he revisited the lady. This time, he brought some gifts—handing her a bat, autographed jersey, and the cleats he wore that night.
"I was scared," said Gordon. "I was like, 'That could have been my grandma getting hit.' I had to make sure she was alright. Luckily, it just grazed her, more than anything. She was shaken up, but she was OK. Just to kind of say, 'sorry.'" (Frisaro - mlb.com - 9/24/15)
In 2015, Gordon capped his remarkable season by making history, becoming the first player to lead the NL in batting average (.333) and stolen bases (58) since Jackie Robinson in 1949 (.342/37).
Before a 2016 Spring Training game, a man handed Dee two fresh char-grilled hot dogs. An unremarkable moment. Or so it seemed. In reality, that simple gesture reflected a lifelong friendship, the importance of early influences and that it really is a small world after all.
The man is Eddie Roper. Growing up in Avon Park, Fla., a small town in the central part of the state, he was best friends with Tom Gordon. Gordon would go on to become an All-Star closer who fathered two sons who eventually signed professional contracts: Dee and shortstop Nick, the Twins' first-round pick in 2014 draft.
The elder Gordon, of course, spent half his summers on the road. That's where Roper came in. Wherever Flash Gordon's career took him—Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia—Roper was there. When the team went on the road, he stayed behind with the family. He made sure the kids didn't get in trouble. He played sports with them. He filled an intangible but crucial role, especially since Dee's mother was murdered when he was 6. He was like an uncle to him, according to Dee.
"He took us around and made sure we were safe and good at the ballpark," Dee said. "When my dad would go do his stuff, we would go with him until my step-mom came. He always made sure we were straight. He's a pretty cool dude."
These days, Roper works for the Tigers at Marchant Stadium. "Whatever they need me to do, that's what I do," Roper said as he manned the grill. "I cook for the team. I cook for the suites. Burgers and hot dogs. Sometimes chicken."
Roper said, "In Avon Park, everybody's friends. Tom was real athletic. He played football, baseball, basketball. I liked sports and played a little bit, so that's how it all came together."
Roper even lived with the Gordons in the offseason. The men would fish together, visit friends and go to the races. It was a full-time position, although not precisely a job. "Tom took care of me," Roper said. "It wasn't like he paid me, but he took care of me. Sometimes we traveled with the team. The kid's mom, traveling with the kids was rough. So my being there helped a lot, and that's what I did."
Everybody agrees that Dee is a gentleman. Not to mention a pretty good ballplayer. Roper will modestly accept some credit for both. "Dee turned out to be a pretty decent kid," Roper said proudly. "I helped raise him a little bit. I had a lot to do with it. I didn't let him get in trouble, because I'd tell his dad, and he knew what Tom would do to him if he caused me any trouble. His grandmother who raised him kept him in church. You go to church when you're young and it helps you in the long run. He ain't going to change." (Hagan - MLB.com - 3/6/16)
During the Marlins' 2016 Opening Day ceremonies, Gordon was presented with plenty of hardware he earned in 2015. He was honored for winning the NL batting title, the NL Silver Slugger Award, the NL Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and the Wilson Award as top defensive second baseman. (Frisaro - MLB.com - 4/5/16)
Turns out, Dee Gordon didn't receive all of his 2015 hardware on Opening Day. As a surprise during batting practice on April 19, 2016, owner Jeffrey Loria had one more gift for him. Loria surprised Gordon with a diamond-studded pendant sporting the Marlins' logo and a .333 inscription. The gift is to recognize Gordon winning the NL batting crown in 2015.
Gordon was all smiles when he saw the circular pendant in the dugout prior to the Marlins facing the Nationals at Marlins Park. Lost for words, Gordon blurted out, "This is sick! Thank you."
Gordon also told Loria that the contract extension he signed in January was already plenty. Miami locked up Gordon to a five-year, $50 million deal a month before Spring Training.
In 2015, Gordon turned in one of the greatest individual seasons in franchise history. He was the NL batting champ, as well as the Major League leader in stolen bases (58) and hits (205). (Frisaro - MLB.com - 4/19/16)
April 29-July 28, 2016: Dee has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games without pay for violating the league's drug policy.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball levied the suspension after Gordon tested positive for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing substances, in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. It is effective immediately. Gordon will be eligible to return on July 29 when the Marlins play host to the Cardinals. (Frisaro - MLB.com - 4/28/16)
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed shock and disappointment before the game at the news of Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon's 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Roberts and Gordon have an intertwined history with the Dodgers, despite never being with the team at the same time. Both were in the National League West from 2011-14 when Gordon was in Los Angeles and Roberts was a coach with the Padres. While competing against Gordon during that time, Roberts didn't see anything out of the ordinary in Gordon's development.
"Sometimes, you got to chalk it up to maturation and your body filling out," Roberts said. "I really don't know Dee's whole story on what happened, and I really haven't dug too deep into it as far as him not knowing what he was taking. I can't even speak to that. In this series, like I said, I'm shocked."
Gordon was able to play in the series while appealing the suspension, during which he went 4-for-19 with a double and three runs. Roberts supported the process that allowed the player to do so.
"I think it's one of those things that we got to let due process run its course," Roberts said. "That's what we signed, as far as the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That's the way it is. Did he impact our series? Absolutely. But we knew going in that every player has that process to go through."
There was a mixture of reactions within the Dodgers' clubhouse, where many players are former teammates of Gordon's. "Some players were upset," Roberts said. "You see social media and some guys are outspoken about things and some guys not so much. I can only speak to how I felt."
Ultimately, Roberts took the news as another signal that while PEDs have become less of an issue in the league, there is still work to do in keeping the sport clean.
"I think that it's as clean as it's been, just my opinion," Roberts said. "I'm surprised by the guys that are coming out, testing positive. Major League Baseball and the union [Players Association] are trying to do everything they can to clean it up, and we obviously have more work to do." (J Baker - MLB.com - April 29, 2016)
March 10, 2017: They embraced and mingled for a few minutes during batting practice. Later in the afternoon, they bid their goodbyes by the team bus. In a flash, the game flew by at Roger Dean Stadium, but it was a memorable one for Dee and Nick Gordon. The brothers both were in the same game for their respective teams with Nick's Twins coming out on top of the Marlins, 8-2.
Dee Gordon, leading off and playing second for Miami, went hitless in three at-bats. Nick wasn't supposed to play, but the 21-year-old got an at-bat in the ninth inning, lifting a fly ball out to left.
"I hadn't really thought about it until I got out here and saw him talking to his brother before the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I didn't know if it would work out, but I was kind of looking for [an opportunity]."
Dee Gordon, a two-time All-Star second baseman, was just glad to see his younger brother, who is rated by MLBPipeline.com as the Twins' top overall prospect.
"During stretch, we talked," Dee said. "Then, they were in the cage, and I was back here watching him hit. I talked to him a little bit." The brothers were hoping to see each other earlier in Spring Training at Fort Myers. Dee was supposed to be on the Feb. 27 trip, but he ended up not going because he was dealing with an eye infection.
The brothers were together on the same field. A couple of uncles and cousins were on hand, but not their father, former big league closer Tom "Flash" Gordon. From the dugout, Nick got to observe Dee in action. "It was great to see him play," Nick said. "It's the first time I've really gotten to see him on the field."
Nick projects to open the season at Double-A, but he is tracking toward playing in the big leagues at some point in the next year or two. "You see your brother out there, you definitely want to be out there with him," Nick said. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - March 10, 2017) (Editor's note: As of 2019, Nick was still in the Twins' minor league system.)
Feb 8, 2018: Dee Gordon's first stop after being traded? Glove shopping at a local sporting goods store. As baseball fans, we tend to hold baseball players in very high regard. They're gods on the diamond, existing in circles unknown to us normal, perpetually awkward souls. But sometimes we're reminded that they are indeed regular human beings. (M Monagan - MLB.com - Feb 8, 2018)
Gordon's Gear Represents Dee on the Field:
His cleats: "My cleats are 9.5. For a while I wanted to be the guy wearing the 10 -- Double digits. (In 2018), I was like, 'You know what, I'm a 9.5, I'm gonna stop with trying to be the big guy.'
"I used to try and wear the 'fast guy' cleats. Josh Bard (current Yank bench coach) told me when I was in Triple-A, 'you are the fastest guy I've ever seen, no spike is going to make you faster.' So I started to go for comfort," Dee said.
Gordon's Bat: "The Chandler bat is literally the only brand I can swing. For some reason, I am just comfortable with it. Won a batting title with it, a few 200 hit seasons."
Dee's Elbow Guard: "It's smarter to wear a guard because I throw hard right-handed, so if I get hit that's my throwing arm. I can't move if my throwing is messed up," Gordon said.
Feb. 18, 2020: Gordon and his wife, Joalisya, welcomed their first child in Windermere, Fla. The Gordons had a baby girl named Demi.
April 23, 2020: Dee Gordon has never been the biggest guy on the baseball field, but the Mariners second baseman has always made a big impact both in his sport and in the community. For his charitable efforts off the field, Gordon has been named the 2020 winner of the prestigious Fred Hutch Award.
Gordon is just the third Mariner to win the Hutch Award, which has been awarded annually to one Major League player for the past 55 years. Previous Mariners winners were Jamie Moyer in 2003 and Raul Ibanez in '13. Three other former Mariners, John Olerud in 1993, Omar Vizquel in ’96 and Mike Sweeney in ‘07, received the award while they were playing for other clubs.
At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Gordon has always seen himself as an underdog in sports and uses that motivation to help others reach their goals as well.
“What drives me is I’m really not supposed to be here,” Gordon said. “I’m blessed to be here and to play well and do everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing in life because of what I do on the baseball field. So I just wanted to give back. I kind of grew up getting in trouble for fighting and looking out for others. Now I don’t have to fight as much anymore so I can just use my blessings to help others.
“Being 170 pounds, I’m the smallest guy out there every time I touch the field. So I have to play hard and play better than everyone and always be on top of my game. So just knowing and understanding that about myself, I just know it’s a blessing to be here. That’s literally why I do it.” (Greg Johns )
When Dee accepted the 55th annual Fred Hutch Award in a virtual presentation, it didn’t diminish the appreciation and pride over earning one of Major League Baseball’s most-prestigious honors.
“It’s just mind-boggling to myself and my wife,” Gordon said from his home in Orlando, Fla. “It’s crazy. I’m definitely humbled by this experience. This award is amazing and I’m so happy and blessed to be part of this.”
The award is given each year to a Major Leaguer who best exemplifies the courage and fighting spirit of former MLB player and manager, Fred Hutchinson, both on and off the field.
“When I look at Dee and the things he’s doing, it’s so inspiring,” said former Clemente award winner, Harold Reynolds. “We tried to lay that foundation down back in the day for those who came after us and now we’re watching Dee run with that mantle. It’s easy to write a check, but how are you giving your time?
"Dee gives his time as well as his finances. His heart is unique. There are so many players and athletes who do great things in our game. I’m proud of where baseball is at and the ambassadors we put forward. But for Dee to get this award just shows you he’s at the top of that heap, not only as a player, but as a person.”
“At the end of the day, people are going to say, ‘What kind of person are you?’ and that’s the thing that shines really bright about Dee,” Reynolds said. “This award isn’t about the stolen base titles or hit titles or different things he’s accomplished in his career. It’s about the people he’s touched.” (Johns - mlb.com - 5/27/2020)
Sept. 3, 2020: Seattle Mariners infielder and outfielder Dee Gordon told the team he wants to go by Dee Strange-Gordon going forward, per Greg Johns of MLB.com, in honor of his late mother DeVona Strange, who was killed when he was seven.
Strange was shot and killed by her boyfriend, Lynford Schultz, who served five years in prison for manslaughter.
Strange-Gordon told B/R's Scott Miller in 2019 that Devaris Strange-Gordon is his legal name, but after a public address announcer in rookie ball badly mispronounced his full name, he asked to just be called Dee Gordon. (Timothy Rapp)
In the spring of 2008, Gordon failed to qualify academically at Seminole Community College (Fla.) and couldn't play. But in June, the Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round anyway. He signed with scout Scott Hennessey for $250,000.
December 11, 2014: The Dodgers traded Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, SS Miguel Rojas, and cash to the Marlins; acquiring LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, 2B Enrique Hernandez, and C Austin Barnes.
January 18, 2016: The Marlins signed Gordon to a five-year, $50 million contract.
Dec. 7, 2017: The Mariners acquired Gordon from the Marlins for Minor League righthanders Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger and infielder Christopher Torres. The Marlins also included international bonus pool money of $1 million in the trade.
Seattle already had Robinson Cano at second base, so they moved Gordon to center field.