SECAUCUS, N.J. -- The Bud Selig farewell tour took a detour through the Major League Baseball Network studios Thursday night, when the commissioner called out the first-round picks of the 2014 MLB draft. Among other high points, Selig had the pleasure of invoking his go-to phrase -- "The (insert team here) are on the clock" -- and announcing that the mellifluously named Florida prep pitcher Touki Toussaint had been picked by Arizona with the 16th choice in the first round.
Before the night was over, Andre Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy Lasorda and numerous other baseball dignitaries helped bring 74 aspiring big leaguers into the fold. All teams have to do now is find common ground with those players and their advisors and make the finances work.
For sports fans who might have spent Thursday night following their favorite big league team or watching the Miami Heat wilt down the stretch in San Antonio, here are some assorted high points and other vignettes from the first day of the draft.
One of the most heartwarming scenes of the evening came after Florida high school shortstop Nick Gordon went to the Minnesota Twins with the fifth pick in the first round. He did a series of media interviews with his father, former major league reliever Tom "Flash" Gordon, before they exchanged a long and emotional hug.
Tom Gordon spent 21 years in the big leagues and accumulated 138 wins and 158 saves for eight teams. He was pitching for the Phillies in 2007 when the Dodgers selected his oldest son, Dee, in the fourth round. He remembers "shaking like a leaf" when he received a phone call alerting him of the news.
So how did Flash Gordon react when Selig stepped to the podium and announced Nick's selection?
"I'm still shaking like a leaf," he said. "Probably even more so. Sweating. All the emotions. Having to sit there and not knowing exactly what's going to happen. It's tough to describe because you want everything to go so well. I have nothing but pride and pure joy for my boys about the way they've gone about it and communicated and worked together. It's a true blessing."
Nick Gordon is a talented pitcher with a mid-90s fastball, two breaking balls and a changeup, but he tabled pitching in his senior year at Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida, to focus exclusively on playing shortstop. He has a scholarship to Florida State but stands to receive a bonus of $3.8 million or thereabouts as the No. 5 pick. If he signs, as expected, he'll combine with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano (who's sitting out this year because of Tommy John surgery) to give the Twins an impressive collection of young position player talent.
Nick Gordon isn't as fast as his brother, but he has considerably more power. Although Dee eventually shifted to second base in Los Angeles, Nick is intent on staying put at short. In 2005, when Flash was pitching in New York, Nick spent a lot of time hanging around Yankee Stadium and became friendly with Derek Jeter. The Captain talked baseball with him, gave him batting gloves, wrist bands, baseball shoes and other stray swag, and quickly became his favorite player.