Major League Baseball great and Highlands County native Thomas “Flash” Gordon will serve as Grand Marshal at the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Gordon attended Avon Park High School which is 15 miles north of Sebring International Raceway. He was selected in the sixth round of the 1986 MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals and spent a total of 24 years as a professional.
An avid motorsports fan, Gordon has been to many Sebring races, and has attended the last nine Daytona 500s.
He is a newly appointed member of the AdventHealth Sebring Foundation Board and, among other projects, is working with AdventHealth and Highlands County leaders to bring celebrity sporting events to the community to raise funds for local charities and to bring further recognition to his hometown.
“The entire Highlands County community means so much to me and was such an important part of my childhood,” Gordon said. “I’m honored to serve as the Grand Marshal of the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
“The Raceway has always been a huge part of this community, and wherever I go people know about Sebring because of it.
“The Raceway and I share a common goal of giving back to this community, and I look forward to continuing to work with their team on local projects and becoming an even bigger fan of IMSA and the 12 Hours.”
After leaving Avon Park, Gordon spent three years in the Royals minor league system and made his Major League debut in 1988 making five appearances in the Royals starting rotation.
The following season, in his first full season in the big leagues, he posted a 17-9 record for Kansas City and a 3.64 earned run average (ERA), finishing second in 1989 Rookie of the Year voting. Gordon also recorded 153 strikeouts that year, which helped earn him the nickname “Flash.”
Gordon continued to post top-10 strikeout totals during the 1990 and 1991 seasons and enjoyed seasons of 11 or more wins from 1993-1995. Prior to the 1996 season, Gordon signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. In his first season in Boston, Gordon had a 12-9 record. Following the 1996 season, the Red Sox moved Gordon from the starting rotation to the bullpen, which proved to be a great decision and where he would spend the remainder of his career.
In 1998, perhaps his best season, Gordon led the American League with 46 saves which remains a Boston Red Sox franchise-record dating back to the club’s inaugural season in 1901. During the 1998-99 seasons, he recorded 54-consecutive saves, then an all-time Major League Baseball record. He was named to his first MLB All-Star team in 1998 and was named the 1998 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year for the American League.
In addition to the Royals and Red Sox, Gordon took the mound for the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was a member of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team.
He made 890 career appearances, recorded 1,928 career strikeouts, 114 saves and recorded a 3.96 career ERA.