Babylon baseball player Kenneth Gordon knows exactly where he’ll be Thursday between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. — it’s what he does on game-days during the school week — taking batting practice in his backyard.
Gordon gets between 75-to-100 pitches from his father, Doug, in their 40-foot batting cage. (He has back-to-back lunch periods and signs himself out of school.)
“It sharpens up everything, and I get locked in,” said Gordon, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “It’s one of the best feelings imaginable.”
The senior shortstop has had many of those “best feelings” this season and in his four-year career with the Panthers. Gordon is hitting .492 this season (including a .667 average with runners in scoring position), with a .600 on-base percentage, a .689 slugging percentage, two home runs, 26 runs scored and 13 RBIs. He also has 22 stolen bases this season, and is Babylon’s all-time leader in stolen bases (113) coach Victor Manzella said.
For good measure, the 5-10, 175-pounder has fielded 93 attempts at shortstop this season without an error. He’s helped turn nine double plays. Third-seeded Babylon (12-10) travels to No. 2 Center Moriches for a Suffolk B elimination game at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Before anyone thinks Gordon is just a baseball junkie (which he is) he’s also an excellent student who has a 102 wieghted average, according to Babylon AD Michael DeJoseph.
“He’s someone that his family, and our school, is very proud of,” DeJoseph said. “His dad always says, ‘Thank you for all you’ve done for him.’ I’m like, ‘With a kid like yours, it’s easy.’ ”
Gordon credits his father and mother, Vim, for his polite nature. Manzella remembers the first time he saw Gordon at the plate, and how he shook the umpire’s hand to introduce himself; a move Gordon — a die-hard Mets fan — took from one of his favorite players, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Gordon has also been thanking opposing coaches recently for the chance to play against them during his Babylon career.
“It’s not every kid who appreciates playing high school sports and the experience of baseball like Kenneth,” Mattituck coach and physics teacher Steve DeCaro said. “He’s a special, special kid, not to mention, a pretty good shortstop.”
The two-time All-County standout has received an athletic scholarship to attend Division II Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, his father said.
“It just shows me that all my hard work paid off,” Gordon said, “and it means I get to play the game I love a little bit longer.”