Oldest Living Major Leaguer Tom Jordan Passes Away at 99

Tom Jordan, a Major League catcher for 39 games over three years from 1944 to 1948, passed away on August 26 in Roswell, New Mexico, after complications from a heart attack just ten days short of his 100th birthday.

Jordan was born on September 5, 1919, in Lawton, Oklahoma. After spending six seasons in the minor leagues as a catcher and outfielder, he got the call-up to the Majors late in the 1944 season by the Chicago White Sox. He made 14 appearances that season, hitting .267.

Out of organized ball in 1945, Jordan got the call back to the Bigs in 1946. He made his season debut on June 5 for the White Sox, putting up three hits (including two doubles and a triple) against the Yankees, but he recorded just one more hit over his next nine games while serving primarily as a pinch-hitter. On July 4, he was traded to the Indians for a player to be named later (which became five-time All-Star catcher Frankie Hayes on July 15), where he hit .206 over 14 games with the club with a double, his lone Major League homer, and three RBI.

Jordan – 1977 TCMA The War Years

The 1947 season was spent back in the minors, but he did make one final appearance in the Majors on April 28, 1948, reaching on an error in his final MLB at bat while playing for the St. Louis Browns. He stayed with the club’s San Antonio affiliate before toiling around with a semi-pro organization with his brother and other minor league organizations in the southwest. He served as a player-manager for those clubs from 1950 to 1956. Twice during his long minor league career Jordan topped the .400 mark at the plate as a hitter.

Jordan was recently one of the subject matters of the Gaylon White book, Left on Base in the Bush Leagues. The author was quoted on Forbes.com as saying, “At the time I saw him in June, I would have put money on him making it to 100. … He said the doctor told him he would live to be a hundred.”

White also noted that Jordan enjoyed his time in the minors.

“Tom wanted to go back to the minors,” White shared in the same August 26 story on Forbes.com. “He did not like the big leagues. He did not like big cities; he found them to be rather impersonal. He had a thriving farm in Roswell. He preferred to play for minor league teams close to where he lived.”

Jordan became the oldest living former Major League Baseball player on November 30, 2018, when Fred Caligiuri passed away at 100. He had returned to his old stomping grounds in Albuquerque in July, spending time where he played with the Dukes in 1953 and 1954, and he had hoped to make return visits to both Chicago and Cleveland later this year, according to a story by J.T. Keith of the Roswell Daily Record on August 26. His health had begun to fade last year due to ongoing heart issues that led to stents being placed in 2018 and a replacement heart valve in May of this year (making him the oldest living person to receive a replacement valve).

Wally Westlake is now the oldest living Major Leaguer with ties to the Cleveland Indians as a player.

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