Gordon back to play more baseball with Bulldogs

Cole Gordon

Staff Writer

Cole Gordon thought it might be time.

The Mississippi State baseball player had been playing the game he loved since childhood, but after the Bulldogs’ magical season concluded with an improbable run to the College World Series this past June, Gordon pondered hanging up his cleats. He still had a year of eligibility remaining, but Gordon was close to bowing out. He had his degree. There were other things out there.

Yet this past Thursday, there stood Gordon, going through fall workouts with the Bulldogs. Perhaps there’ll come a day when Gordon gives up baseball. That day isn’t here just yet though.

“I just figured it had been four years (at Mississippi State) and I’ve had a great time,” Gordon said of his thought process over the offseason. “At that point, I was just trying to figure out if it was time for me to go out and start living the life past baseball, but I wasn’t quite ready to do that yet, so I’m here.”

Gordon’s decision gives the Bulldogs another experienced piece as Mississippi State looks to build upon all of last season’s success in 2019. Gordon brings back with him his big right arm that helped punch MSU’s ticket to Omaha a few months back. Gordon didn’t allow a run over his last 14.2 innings pitched last season. It was an amazing turnaround for a pitcher who was inconsistent for most of the year.

New Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said Gordon’s fantastic final few weeks played a role in getting Gordon back in the fold.

“He got hot late and what a fun ride, and I think a little bit now, professionally, he has a shot if he can show it all year long,” Lemonis said about Gordon. “He’s had a really good fall to this point. I sat in on his bullpen (Wednesday) and it was a lot of fun.”

The arrival of Lemonis was another factor in Gordon choosing to remain a Diamond Dog. Not long after Lemonis was hired, he called Gordon into his office for a chat. That helped cement things for Gordon. He was returning.

However, even more than that, the chance to once again play alongside his friends made up Gordon’s mind for him.

“It was moreso the taste of Omaha and the guys I knew we had coming back,” Gordon said. “Coach Lemonis obviously was a big part of it when he came back, called me in and made an impact on me, but it was moreso the guys. I saw what we went through. I saw how we came together.

“I just felt like we left off in a place we should have finished. I think it’s something we need to go back and finish.”

As the Bulldogs look to return to Omaha in 2019, Gordon won’t just be using his arm to help get MSU there. Gordon will somewhat return to his roots in the upcoming season. He came to Mississippi State in large part due to his bat. However he became a key pitcher for State in 2017 and focused strictly on pitching in 2018.

Come this spring, Gordon will get the chance to swing the bat yet again. Lemonis asked Gordon if he’d like to return to hitting some and it was a no-brainer for Gordon.

“(Lemonis) asked me if I still wanted to and obviously, I said yes,” Gordon said. “I would be dumb not to take that chance again and be able to hit (batting practice) and that kind of stuff and have a chance to hit. I’m really excited about that.”

Gordon will still pitch. In fact, that will seemingly remain his primary role, but the chance to get Gordon’s pop in the lineup in some form was intriguing to Lemonis.

“(Hitting) was one of the things with him coming back we wanted to take a look at,” Lemonis said. “You watch him take batting practice and he’s one of the more impressive guys we have, but I need him at the back end of that bullpen too, so hopefully we don’t sacrifice any of that.”

How excited is Gordon to know he’ll get to hit again? The smile on his face talking about it speaks volumes.

“I missed it when I was out running with the pitchers and then everyone else was taking (batting practice),” Gordon said. “I just missed that part of it, but other than that, it’s fun. It’s part of the game that you grew up doing. It’s what everyone wants to do when they’re little, and even now, pitchers think they can hit and hitters think they can pitch. It just always goes back and forth.”

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. Not long ago, Gordon didn’t know if he’d ever play baseball again. Now, not only will he still be playing in the season to come, he’ll be helping the Bulldogs both on the mound and at the plate.

Instead of getting out of the game, Gordon will soon be as involved as he’s ever been.

Baseball, and the Bulldogs, aren’t getting rid of Cole Gordon just yet. He’s decided there are just too many reasons to keep on playing.

“It was just really hard to leave that when I had the chance to come back and do it again,” Gordon said.