Thomas Jefferson Jordan Sr. (Tom) oldest living MLB player died on Monday August 26, 2019 at the age of 99 ten days shy of his 100th birthday after battling congestive heart failure.
Tom was born on September 5, 1919 to Labe Jordan and Vada Pirtle Jordan in Lawton Oklahoma. Tom and his family first came to Roswell, NM by covered wagon. This was a ten-day journey in 1933 from Lawton Oklahoma. At 16 he and his older brother Jared delivered ice cream in a truck to Capitan NM several times a week. After returning to Oklahoma Tom graduated from Faxton High School and at 17 started his baseball career.
Tom appeared in 39 big league games from 1944 to 1948 for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns. He stepped to the plate exactly 100 times, batting .240 with one home run. He battled the mighty New York Yankees and he had eight hits in 19 at bats for a .421 average.
Tom had stated that he didn’t enjoy his time in the major leagues. He stated that he was a country boy, and after the games when everyone scattered, he would not see anyone until the next day at the ballpark. He didn’t like big cities because he felt they were very lonely for him. He had a bad arm and didn’t make much money.
Tom was much happier in the lower minor leagues. He played for 18 years. During that period, he had 2,197 hits, 267 home runs and a .338 batting average. The best year for him was 1950 when he played in Roswell. He led the Class C Longhorn League with a battling average of .391, home runs totaling 44, runs batted in of 180, runs scored at 147. When he played in Artesia in 1955, he topped the Longhorn League with a .407 batting average, 159 RBI’s, and 216 hits and 69 doubles.
When Tom was not on the ball field, he was on his farms in Roswell which he run with his brother Jared. Tom loved farming and making things grow and he made more money farming than playing baseball. Tom grew cotton, and hay and also always had a truck garden where he grew green chili, bell peppers, watermelons, cantaloupes, and various other vegetables. Tom and Jared had very green thumbs and would sell their vegetables by the side of the road out on southeast Main by the old St. Mary’s Hospital.
Tom and wife Lorene raised their family after Tom retired from baseball here in Roswell. After retiring from farming Tom raised a large garden ever year including this year. That was what he loved best, growing things.
He loved coaching and managing young ball players from grade school thru and beyond high school. Tom always paid things forward. He knew he had been fortunate in his life and wanted to give back to the people in his life to make their lives better.
Tom said numerous times that his number one thrill in baseball was his son Tom Jr., hitting and pitching Roswell to the Little League World Series title in 1956 in Williamsport, PA.
Tom is survived by a son Tommy Jordan (Roswell, NM), a daughter-in-law Shelia Jordan (Roswell, NM, stepson Jimmy Marling (Roswell, NM) grandson Stanley Jordan (Hobbs, NM), granddaughter Lori Dibenedetto (Ventura CA.), great granddaughters Lisa Crismon (Ventura CA.) and Lori Elizabeth Beck Albuquerque, NM, great grandsons Ty Jordan (Roswell, NM), Michael Jordan (Hobbs, NM), Anthony Seth Jordan (Hobbs, NM), Aiden Jordan (Hobbs, NM), Kenny Kindrick (Auston, TX), and great daughter Jessica Kindrick (Auston, TX), and Niece Kay Greengrass (Arlington, TX).
Tom was preceded in death by his wife Lorene Jordan, daughter Camilla Jordan, daughter Patricia Jordan, granddaughter Lisa Workman, father and mother Labe and Vada Jordan, brother Jared Jordan, sister-in-law Exer Jordan, uncle-in-law Chuck Greengrass.
Tom was loved and will be deeply missed. No flowers, please pay it forward and donate to your favorite charity.
Please join us for a celebration of his life Thursday, September 5, 2019, at The Historical Society for Southeastern New Mexico Archive Building 208 N. Lea in Roswell, New Mexico.
Special thanks to Gaylon White for their assistance in writing this.