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Announcer John Gordon to retire

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Kirby Puckett raced around the bases after his 11th-inning home run sent the 1991 World Series to Game 7, John Gordon let loose from his broadcast booth at the Metrodome.

"Touch 'em all, Kirby Puckett!"

This is the way that Gordon has called home runs by the Minnesota Twins for listeners throughout the Upper Midwest airwaves since his first year with the team in 1987, when the team won the first of two championships.

This year, his 25th season with the Twins, will be his last. Gordon will end his radio announcing career after working a partial schedule, he confirmed this week.

"I wasn't going to die at the microphone so I knew that once I fulfilled what I felt was a commitment to myself and the Twins, as far as my broadcast work, that I would retire," the 70-year-old Gordon said Thursday in a phone interview from his home in southwest Florida, near where the Twins hold spring training.

"Who knows? I might go tomorrow, but I'm hoping that I have a real good life in front of me and that I can enjoy my wife and do some things that I haven't had had a chance to do while I've been in baseball," he said.

Gordon said he's in good health, but that he's eager to spend more time with his family, golf more and travel. He and his wife have two children and four grandchildren.

The Detroit native began his broadcasting career in 1965 after graduating from Indiana University and called games for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees among other teams before coming to Minnesota.

Gordon said his plan was to leave the booth in 2010, but broadcast partner Dan Gladden and team president Dave St. Peter helped persuade him to come back and call 89 games in 2011.

Gladden, a former Twins outfielder, will again work 140 games. Kris Atteberry will increase his workload as a play-by-play man, Jack Morris will continue as an analyst on a limited basis, and veterans Bob Kurtz and Ted Robinson are scheduled as guest announcers for about 25 games apiece.

This will be a transition year as the Twins evaluate how to fill Gordon's spot in the future. They plan to honor him toward the end of the season, though Gordon said he wasn't interested in a "swan song" situation.

Twins fans will forever remember how Gordon called Puckett's homer in 1991 that beat Atlanta in the sixth game.

"It was his mike, when Puckett hit the home run to force Game 7. I think ultimately that'll be the call he's remembered for, the excitement in his voice and what happened that night," said Andy Price, the senior director of broadcasting and game presentation for the Twins.

Gordon has done a lot for the team out of the booth, too, with charity golf tournaments, winter caravan appearances and regular call-ins with the team's radio affiliates in smaller cities around the region.

"I can't believe there's many broadcasters, if any, around the country who have put in the hours he has as an ambassador for the team," Price said.

Gordon, who paraphrased a home run call he heard Dick Enberg use to develop his "Touch 'em all!" signature decades ago, credited longtime partner Herb Carneal for a lot of his style and knowledge. Carneal died before the 2007 season.

Gordon said he'd fondly remember feedback from fans who expressed appreciation for his even approach to announcing.

"Even though I root for the Twins in my heart, I know my job is not to be a homer," Gordon said. "I've always felt that you needed to be as objective as possible and report the game as you see it and relay that to the listener."