SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: Leading The Way Across The Diamond
Hunter Gordon, Tom Bourdon, And Matt Pare Embrace The "C" On Their Chests
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 03:02
The calendar only says February and the frigid Massachusetts winter wind howls outside. Inside the practice bubble covering the field at Alumni Stadium, however, it feels just like spring time.
A steady clang of metal bats and the pounding of leather mitts during infield drills echo in the air as head coach Mike Gambino intensely watches the Boston College baseball team prepare for its first tournament of the year. From his vantage point along the sidelines, his Eagles appear quick, athletic, and poised to silence their critics.
With more freshmen on the roster than juniors and seniors combined, Gambino notices they also look young.
“It’s going to be a year where we’ll go as far as our leadership will take us,” he said.
The task of leading a BC team dominated by youth and raw talent will rest on the shoulders of three men, chosen by their teammates and coaches to take on a challenge any baseball veteran might consider daunting. Nevertheless, captains Hunter Gordon, Tom Bourdon, and Matt Pare have already embraced their role as the program’s figureheads.
The trio now shares an identity marked by the prestigious “C” that recognizes their accomplishments and proven greatness as Eagles. Yet each player has followed a unique path to BC, defined by childhood dreams, deep family roots, and unexpected obstacles that all strengthened an undying love for the game.
Gordon stretches with his teammates, joking around and shouting words of encouragement to a team that has gone through a metamorphosis since he fist arrived almost four years ago. A year after transitioning from his place in the bullpen to a role as a starter, the senior finds himself fighting his way back from a injury and back to a spot in BC’s rotation. As tough as it is not being able to take the mound, Gordon still feels right at home.
Since breaking out during his freshman year, in which he tallied the third-most pitching appearances on the team, Gordon has been a fixture on the BC staff. A reason for his long-term success as an Eagle has been his consistency. Regardless of the situation where Gambino has handed him the ball, the former Massachusetts high school star has always brought the same approach to the hill.
“Whether it was an appearance on a Tuesday midweek game for one inning or a start on a Friday versus an ACC team, I always try to keep the same mentality,” Gordon said. “You’re going to make this pitch, go after this hitter, and then you get the next guy. If you can keep that sort of mentality, I think at whatever position with all our guys, we’ll be successful.”
Gordon’s father Robert can trace his son’s collegiate success to an incomparable work ethic that has stood out since Hunter’s days as a little leaguer. Days that the pair spent practicing on the ball field revealed that the younger Gordon had a sense of determination unusual for an 11-year-old.
“His dreams were always to play at a further level,” Robert said.
Father and son baseball practices were a ritual for the pair, as Hunter strove to reach the level of the older players he worshipped. To a little kid with big dreams, the quickest way to get there was by playing on the same field as his local heroes—the big diamond.
Yet playing on the same field as the big kids in his town wasn’t enough for young Gordon. Getting better and better with each father and son practice was the main thing on his mind. Robert remembers a rule Hunter insisted upon—neither would leave the field until the young star would make a few web gems like he’d seen his big league idols record on ESPN’s SportsCenter each morning
Robert would hit hard ground balls to either side of Hunter, enabling the younger Gordon to make the spectacular diving plays he always thirsted for. Yet Hunter wouldn’t be satisfied until he recorded three web gems worthy of a SportsCenter nod in his own eyes.
“Practicing that hard and putting all that into it,” Robert said, “you could see that he was driven.”
The will to succeed led Gordon through a brilliant high school defined by praise and accolades, including being named to ESPN RISE Magazine’s All-Area Greater Boston team before signing on with the Eagles. Looking back at his rise to captaincy, however, Gordon can’t recall a more formative period, both on and off the field, than the time he’s spent at BC.
“Just being at BC, I’ve grown more as a person than I’ve ever even thought I’d be able to,” he said. “The BC education, the Jesuit education is, I think, often overlooked by a lot of people, but I think it’s one of the greatest things that we have access to.”
Looking through the eyes of a proud father, the elder Gordon has witnessed the transformation of a hardworking kid with dreams to an accomplished collegiate athlete. Hunter has come a long way since going to watch Cape Cod league games as a young fan with his dad, hollering for autographs. Yet to Robert, those days don’t seem so long ago.
“Now, it’s come full circle,” he said. “He’s actually one of the players and the kids are surrounding him. He’s just been a perfect gentleman about it.”
As the Eagles take their rips during batting practice, star outfielder Bourdon waits quietly behind the cage for his turn to hit. He rests the bat on his shoulder, timing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand as if he was on deck with the bases loaded during an ACC tournament game.
It’s poised focus like this that enabled the Eagles’ starting center fielder to put together a 2012 season that few could compete with. A .324 batting average, 79 hits, 10 home runs, and 37 runs batted in—his attention-grabbing offensive statistics from a season ago come to life as he drives pitch after pitch during his round of BP.
A year removed from one of the greatest single-season performances in team history, Bourdon now wears the “C” as only a junior. Yet his head coach is the first to say that the third-year standout’s worth to BC isn’t only based on the numbers he puts up.