As he touched the plate to conclude his home-run trot, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon tapped his right elbow. Hours earlier, he had scripted seven letters onto a yellow band and wrapped it around his arm.
Charlie is a teenager battling pediatric cancer. He had been in remission, but needed a brain operation on Friday, according to a team official. He is part of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research.
On a night in which he wanted to remember Charlie as he played, Gordon offered the kid something he likely will not forget.
A home run into the right-field seats on the first pitch he saw.
“I didn’t tell him I was going to hit a home run, but I think it was kind of meant to be,” Gordon said. “I had goosebumps going around the bases. I wanted to make sure I tapped him and let him see it. It was pretty special.”
The first-inning home run was just the start.
Gordon matched a career high with four hits in the Royals’ 8-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. He was a triple shy of the cycle, and he missed that by only a few inches.
He was a man on a mission. But a mission few knew about before Friday.
“I came into this game just wanting to wear the armband to give him a shout-out,” Gordon said. “For this to happen like that, I think it was just meant to be. He’s going through a tough time. Hopefully that’s going to help him a little bit.”
Gordon met Charlie nearly a decade ago. The two immediately connected, he said. Charlie attends most of his foundation’s events. The two have carried over their friendship through the years.
Gordon didn’t want to divulge the details of Charlie’s fight, but he has endured a long battle with pediatric cancer. After a day in which Charlie underwent an operation, Gordon helped the Royals break a 10-game losing streak.
Gordon nearly completed the Royals’ first cycle since 1990. On a ball into the corner, he tried for third but was thrown out. Camera angles were unconvincing, preventing a review.
A cycle unfulfilled.
A game certainly fulfilled otherwise.
“I told him I was going to wear something for him and hopefully he could watch the game,” Gordon said. “I hope he did. If he was, that was for you.”