Dee Gordon still gets emotional when he talks about his late mother, Devona Denise Strange, who was shot and killed by her boyfriend more than 23 years ago.
Those feelings usually bubble up for the Marlins’ second baseman whenever he hosts the kids who are a part of his Flash of Hope program, which he and the state attorney’s office teammed up to start three years ago. Gordon, 29, meets with youngsters who like him lost a parent due to an act of domestic violence.
They either meet with Gordon before a game or he ends up hosting a bowling party or another fun event. It ends up being theraputic for Gordon and the kids.
“It’s pretty cool man just trying to show kids that if something tragic happens in your life you don’t need to become a bad person or a product of your environment – because I didn’t,” said Gordon, who on Tuesday was named the Marlins’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which has been given annually to the player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
“At my bowling party about a week ago, there was a little boy and a little girl hugging each other,” Gordon continued. “So I asked ‘Why are they hugging each other so much?’ They were in two different foster families, but they were brother and sister. The little sister was so happy to see her brother. They couldn’t have been older than nine. It was cool.”
Gordon, who was also nominated for the Clemente award his first season with the Marlins in 2015, has also partnered with the Hungry Foundation’s Striking Out Poverty initiative to support nine impoverished communities in the Dominican Republic. He paid over $15,000 for the village’s water treatment facility to ensure that they had clean water. Gordon is pledging $200 for every stolen base this season to help provide safe drinking water to the residents of the Dominican Republic.
“We take for granted what we have here,” Gordon said. “I’m blessed with a big contract. Before I buy anything cool for me, I’ve got to help somebody else. It’s easy to go to your community and just hand out money. Sometimes I just want to go out and help somebody I don’t know.”
The Marlins will honor Gordon on the field prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals. Fans will be able to vote for the Clemente award winner the day after the regular season ends.
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida and the Marlins set to embark on an eight-day roadtrip beginning Thursday in Atlanta, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has invited family members – and pets – of the players and coaches on staff to travel with the team after Wednesday’s game. Normally, the team travels alone and family members have to make other arrangements.
“We all feel the same way. You have your kids here and you leave on a trip, that’s not the best feeling. But the fact you can kind of take care of them and have them be a part of it is nice,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We don’t have a family trip. I’d like to see us have a couple trips where the family could come with us and be a part of it. So, it’s a good opportnunity to see what it looks like.”
Said newly married Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto: “To not have to worry about my wife and know she’s going to be taken care of is nice. She’s lived in Florida her whole life, been through hurricanes. So she’s been kind of packing the house up and getting ready. Our condo has hurricane-proof windows. We’ll see how well those works.”
▪ When asked prior to Tuesday’s game, Mattingly said he had not yet met with the new ownership group of Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, who were scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday at Marlins Park with various department heads — from marketing and sales to baseball operations — to gain a better understanding of what’s in store once the team is sold.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters (0-0, 0.00) vs. Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (13-6, 2.58), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.