Over the last few years, the precedent was set by then-New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman for MLB to take stronger initiatives in addressing domestic violence issues. Since then, the league has put many new procedures in place and implemented programs to help those involved with the sport deal with domestic violence issues of their own.
However, we haven’t really come to address another facet of domestic and mental abuse issues within the game which have come to light.
Early Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller published a harrowing piece on Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Dee Gordon, recounting the violent death of his mother when he was just 7 years old.
Gordon remembers vividly, despite the incident taking place 22 years ago, defending his mother against her boyfriend who would eventually shoot and kill her while Gordon was at school.
The haunting part of the story, and the struggle for anyone who has dealt with such a situation is always the “I should have” or the “What if” aspect, and for Gordon, those thoughts are often at the forefront of his mind.
Just two days before the murder of his mother, Gordon witnessed a physical argument between DeVona Strange, his mother, and Lynford Schultz, his mother’s live-in boyfriend.
“Do you want me to leave, little man?” Gordon recalls being asked by Schultz. At 7 years old, it’s hard to make a conscious decision to protect the person whose role is still to nurture and protect you.
Gordon answered no, that he did not want him to leave.
“That’s why, for a long, long time, I felt it was my fault,” Gordon said.
While Gordon has been a household name and one of the most intriguing players in the game for many years, no one has known much about his life before baseball. Incidents such as these stay with you for a lifetime, they become part of who you are and how you operate on a daily basis. Keeping them hidden can lead to poorly manifested issues that can affect your relationships with others, in your work environment and even how you’re perceived by the public.
Certainly for Gordon, the cases that have been brought to light had to stir up some emotions in him, and for that, it seems that it’s becoming increasingly important for organizations to implement a plan to help not only those affected off the field, but the ones that we see, cheer for, and admire everyday.
How Jose Fernandez’s death impacted Gordon
In 2016, the baseball world was shaken by the tragic death of one of baseball’s brightest icons when Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident.
As teams and players across the league mourned his loss, no one seemed to be as visibly and publicly jolted by the loss as Gordon. In the Marlins first game played after the death of Fernandez, Gordon hit an emotional lead-off home run, paying tribute to Fernandez. The shot to the second deck of Marlins Park was Gordon’s first home run of the season, and as he returned to the dugout, was emotionally embraced by teammates and coaches as he shed what were clearly extremely cathartic tears.
Looking back on it now possibly sheds a bit more light on what exactly made Gordon that emotional. He is someone who has suffered tragic, unexpected loss before.
Honoring his mother
Gordon was not “groomed” for baseball — his first sport was basketball. But he promised his grandmother that the metal sign used as a grave marker for his late mother would be replaced one day.
According to Gordon, the first big purchase he made after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 was the tombstone that he had promised his grandmother years ago.
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