ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you were at the Isotopes game Sunday night, you saw something pretty cool. They were celebrating the Dukes’ history, and they brought in a former Duke to throw out the first pitch–but he’s not just any player.
At 99-years-old, Roswell resident Tom Jordan is the oldest living former professional baseball player. “It’s neat to see him coming back to the ball field and throwing out the first pitch and being able to do that,” says Steve Palmisana, co-owner, Albuquerque Dukes.
Sunday night, Jordan threw out the first pitch for the Dukes Retro Night at Isotopes Park. “He threw a strike. I told him that we needed him to come out of the bull pin for us in the 7th inning, but he was a little hesitant to do that,” says John Traub, Isotopes General Manager.
Back in 1953 and 1954, Jordan was the manager and catcher for the Albuquerque Dukes. “Kind of the long tradition of catchers making good managers. Maybe it started with him, but he was the catcher and the manager of the Dukes at the same time,” Traub says.
His time in Albuquerque followed brief appearances in the big leagues. The Oklahoma native played in 39 games for the White Sox, Indians and St. Louis Browns in the ’40s.
“He had a lot of stops along the way, but he certainly remembered his stops in Albuquerque very fondly. Won the league championship in 1953 in the West Texas-New Mexico League, which was what it was called back then,” Traub says.
Traub says Jordan hadn’t been back in Albuquerque since the 1954 season, and they were able to track him down with the help of the Roswell Daily Record.
Long-time baseball fans say having Jordan back on the field was the perfect throwback tribute. “There’s several players that have gone on to Hall of Fame success, and so history runs deep with baseball and it’s good that Tom Jordan is a part of that,” Palmisana says.
Jordan will turn 100 in September. Jordan’s son, Tom Jr., was the batboy during his time in Albuquerque back in the ’50s.