Hometown a special place for Gordon

Marlins' new second baseman enjoys giving back to community that supported him

Hometown a special place for Gordon

MIAMI -- To Dee Gordon, there is no place like home for the holidays, and this year is truly a homecoming in a number of ways for the Marlins' newly acquired second baseman.

Florida-born, Gordon was traded by the Dodgers to Miami at the Winter Meetings. The 26-year-old is eager to play in his home state. But first, during this holiday season, he is happy to give back to those who supported him growing up.

Gordon still calls Avon Park home, where he spends the offseason with friends and family. He typically visits with grandparents on Christmas Day, and has his big meal at his church.

On the baseball field, Gordon is known for stealing bases. He swiped an MLB-best 64 in 2014. At home during this time of year, his priorities change: He's all about giving.

Admittedly, Gordon is not one who is antsy to spring out of bed on Christmas morning, eager to see what awaits him under the tree.

"I really don't like getting presents," Gordon said. "That's not really big for me, but I like seeing the smiles on other people's faces. I like giving presents to other people."

Gordon offered his time and resources to an entire community on Saturday, when he launched the First Annual Dee Gordon Boys & Girls Club Christmas Basketball Tournament in Avon Park.

The all-day event featured free food, drinks, music, bounce houses for the kids, and was open to all.

"We're just trying to give back to the community, and letting the kids know that we came out of the same area and made it to the Major Leagues," Gordon said. "We want to let them know that they can do it, too."

The son of former big league pitcher Tom Gordon, Dee is from a baseball family. His brother, Nick, was a first-round Draft pick by the Twins in 2014.

Sponsoring a community holiday event, actually, is a family tradition that had gone away for a while.

"It's crazy," Dee said. "My dad used to do it when I was younger. That's when I got the idea. I just brought it back."

Dee, who made his MLB debut in 2011, has always maintained a strong attachment to where he lives in central Florida. He attended Avon Park High School, like his father, as well as Seminole Community College and Southeastern University.

The community has always embraced him, and he feels the obligation to do his part in return.

"I'm from a really small town," Gordon said. "I want to let [kids] know they can be professional athletes, too. I try showing them little things that can help them be professional athletes. That's what is most gratifying."

Actually, this is the second year Gordon has used his resources to assist his hometown. It's just expanded from 2013.

A year ago, he used his own money to pay for toys for less-fortunate kids. This year, he has established his basketball tournament.

"It's for everybody in the community," Gordon said. "Free basketball tournament. Free food, jerseys and T-shirts, which have numbers on them. It's for the community, so everybody can come out and have a good time."

Like the Marlins, who have been busy making moves this month, Gordon has also been on the go. He was dealt to the Marlins on Dec. 10, a time he just happened to be in Los Angeles because of a charitable event.

On the day the deal was being finalized, Gordon was on a youth baseball field.

"I actually did more than just talk to them," he said. "I was pitching to them also -- and everybody was hitting and running, and having a good time. They were having a good time."

When Gordon was finished, he went to his car, and his phone rang.

"My aunt was on the phone, and she tells me, 'I don't have to fly any more to see you play,'" Gordon said. "I was like, 'What do you mean?' She told me I was traded to the Marlins. I was like, 'What?'"

Once the initial shock wore off, Gordon was thrilled to be coming home.

"It's going to be amazing," Gordon said. "I've got grandmothers who haven't been able to leave to see me play. To have all my family get to see me now is pretty cool."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.