ATLANTA - Tom Gordon couldn't have been a prouder parent yesterday at Turner Field.
He had seen his son transform from a boy who couldn't stand baseball just a few years ago to a young adult whom the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Thursday in the fourth round of the amateur draft.
"We're grateful," Gordon said. "He's really excited about it. It couldn't be more thrilling for all of us."
Devaris Strange-Gordon, 19, is a shortstop from Seminole County Community College in Florida. He had no interest in baseball about three years ago, but he took a chance, played it, found he loved it, and now has a chance to follow his father into the big leagues. But just as important as that, Strange-Gordon has a chance to do something he had wanted to do for a long time.
His mother, Devona Strange, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend when Strange-Gordon was 6 years old. Strange-Gordon had asked his father in the past for a more ornate headstone for his mother. Gordon was set to do that for a Christmas gift, but ultimately thought it would mean more to his son if he made it happen on his own.
Gordon, 40, said that's exactly what his son plans to do with his signing bonus.
"He always wanted to get her something special," Gordon said. "My kid got a chance to experience everything he went through with his mother. Now he's starting to open up a little bit more about that."
But to get to the point that he can do that is remarkable.
"This kid did not play the game at all, and now he absolutely loves the game," Gordon said. "I'm really pleased with that because I kept telling this kid, 'Try the game, try the game, try the game.' The kid kept telling me, 'Absolutely not.' Just basketball. He told me last night [Gordon was right]. I said, 'Good. You're going to pay for this dinner.' "
Could Gordon ever see himself playing against his son in the majors?
"I'd just like to see him play," Gordon said. "I'd love to play against him, but if it's going to take four or five years, I don't know. But to see how far he's come, he's got a really good shot."