Major League Baseball’s oldest living former player dies at 99
Chaves County invited to Sept. 5 memorial at Historical Society
All Tom Jordan wanted was to have one more day in the show, (Major Leagues) and one in the Minor Leagues. He was able to get one of his two bucket-list wishes, but for the other, he just ran out of time. Tom ran out of time in the game that counts — life. On Monday, Tom Jordan passed away as the oldest living former Major League Baseball player.
On July 21, at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, the Isotopes had Retro Night where Tom was back in the house he helped build. That night he wasn’t the oldest living baseball player, he went back in time to where he was the manager of the Dukes and was in his glory. Tom reveled in the cheers from the fans, the autographs he signed and interviews he gave to the media. Tom loved being the oldest living former Major League Baseball player — Tom loved baseball.
Tom was able to wheel his scooter out in front of the pitcher’s mound as the stadium announcer introduced him: “And now fans, for the moment you have been waiting for — he was a player-manager for the Albuquerque Dukes back in 1953-’54 seasons, ladies and gentlemen, the oldest living former Major League Baseball player who is 99 years old: Tom Jordan.”
Tom tipped his hat and drank in the adulation, he wound up and faked like he was going to throw the ball to home plate twice. Each time he faked like he was throwing the ball to home plate, it aroused groans and moans from the fans as they anticipated him throwing the ball.
On the third time, Tom let it go, the fans cheered him and gave him a standing ovation, which he tipped his hat and soaked in the cheers. For that moment, Tom was a kid again. In his latter years, this was one of the highlights that made his day. That day was the day he looked forward to and that day gave him the sparkle in his eye. To know he was revered, and that people came out to say thank you to him out of respect for what he did for the game meant everything to him.
“We love having our old heroes come back,” ‘Topes general manager, John Traub said. “We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get Tom back to see the ballpark. A lot has changed since he was last here. The fans enjoyed having him back.”
Tom was hoping to go to the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians for a visit later in the season. Later this month, he was going to be honored by the St. Louis Browns — the last Major League team he played, but his health began to fail. Even at 99 years old, Tom was busy living his life and making plans for the future and doing interviews. He loved talking about the old days and what it was like to see Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio and some of the other greats that baseball fans can only read about now.
Tom had a heart that could not be fixed. He had stents put in last year, and in May, he had a heart valve put in — he was the oldest living person to receive a replacement valve. Tom lived his life doing the things he loved: having a family, owning a farm and playing baseball. Not many people have the opportunity to do what they love for a living. Tom never worked a day in his life.
Shelia Jordan, Tom’s daughter-in-law, asked that in lieu of money or flowers, that if people would just love each other and pay it forward, that would be the best way to honor him. Tom was a person that paid it forward with his life. He would like for people to do whatever they want to do. Tom was a person that paid it forward. Shelia asked if the good folks of Roswell and Chaves County would come out to the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico at the archive’s facility, 208 N. Lea Ave. on Sept. 5, from 5-7 p.m., to celebrate his life with them and enjoy cupcakes and ice cream.
On Sunday, the last thing Tom watched was the Little League World Series, as Louisiana won.
Tom spent the day talking with his family members. Tom told his niece: “I had a very good life and I’m a lucky man. I got a chance to do things that other people never got to do. I’m tired and I’m ready to go to the big baseball park in the sky, to play for eternity.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.