A lot has changed since Roswell’s own Tom Jordan played for and managed the Albuquerque Isotopes — back then the team was called the Dukes, in the 1953-54 seasons. Sunday was nothing new for Tom as when he was a manager of the Dukes- he used to watch other ex-players and managers throw out the first pitch like he did Sunday evening.
Nothing was more important to Tom than when he was chosen to throw out the first pitch on Sunday in front of thousands of cheering fans. Tom puffed out his chest when he was announced- he hung on to the cheers and a standing ovation, after being announced as the oldest living baseball player on Retro Night.
In a season that is going nowhere fast for Albuquerque — the ‘Topes are in third place with a record of 44-57, and 18 games out of first — the highlight of the season has become pregame, and what excitement the entertainment can muster up between innings for fans.
Prior to the game, the Isotopes were wearing their throwback jerseys from the 53-54 seasons.
There was a groundswell of applause for Tom when his scooter appeared on the side of the field. Tom was quite the celebrity as people from all over rushed him, wanting his attention and wanting to talk to him. ‘Topes Vice President and General Manager John Traub had fun talking to Tom, catching up on old times before the game. Once he was done there was a round of interviews with KOAT’s Justin Matthews.
“We love having our old heroes come back,” Traub said. “We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get Tom back to see the ballpark. A lot has changed since he was here last. The fans and players enjoy having him back.”
As he made his way to the mound to throw out the first pitch, Tom felt like he was 59, instead of 99. As the fans stood on their feet awaiting the pitch, Tom whirled his arm in a circular motion three times and acted like he was going to throw the ball each time, as the crowd hung on his every arm motion. Tom laughed and finally let the ball go to the guy catching his pitch as the crowd roared in approval.
“I thought the people from the Isotopes were great,” Tom said. “So many improvements since the 50s and I was very impressed. I thought the fans were warm and welcoming.”
After throwing out the first pitch, Tom was ushered to the side where he posed for pictures with team members and fans. Tom seemed like a little boy again, on a field he loved the most, a baseball field. For Tom, the drive from Roswell to Albuquerque was worth it.
Now, Tom looks forward to getting calls from the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball before the end of the season and his 100th birthday.
For now, Tom will enjoy the memory of Sunday and relive the countless days of baseball in his mind.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.