What started out as a joke became one of the staples of Mississippi State’s run to the Southeastern Conference championship in 2016.
It started in early March when it came time for Cole Gordon to get a haircut. The redshirt freshman was tired of getting picked on by his teammates about his long flowing locks.
“I had the long hair – the long, scraggly stuff – and everyone on the team was telling me how bad it looked,” Gordon said. “I didn’t really have many compliments about that (hairstyle). So I told them that if we swept Oregon I would get it cut.”
The Bulldogs kept their end of the bargain by winning all three games against the then ninth-ranked Ducks. So the following Wednesday, center fielder and unofficial team barber Jacob Robson brought his clippers and shaved the side of Gordon’s head leaving things business in the front and party in the back.
Yes, the traditional 80’s classic mullet was reborn on the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder from Tampa, Florida.
MSU departed for its SEC opening series at Vanderbilt the following day so there was no time for Gordon to find someone to correct Robson’s prank.
Instead, the mullet was here to stay as Gordon played the role of hero in Game 1 of the series with the game-winning RBI single down the left field line in the 13th inning to give the Diamond Dogs a 2-1 victory against the then second-ranked Commodores.
“Since I got the (game-winning) hit that Friday night, they told me I’d never be able to cut it,” Gordon said. “So I’ve just been walking around with it.”
Since the hairdo has been out of style for the better part of three decades, it does get some strange looks around Starkville – especially if Gordon is not wearing his trademark American flag bandana as an accessory.
“You get one of two looks,” Gordon said. “If you’re with a friend people will think it’s funny. But if you’re walking by yourself you get weird looks and people think you’re a freak. There’s not much in between.”
When Gordon and his mullet weren’t stealing the limelight in the dugout, he was also a key contributor off State’s bench. He played in 20 games and hit .353 with four of his six hits going for extra bases (three doubles, one triple) to go along with three runs batted in.
But 2016 was not Gordon’s first go around in maroon and white. He redshirted his initial year on campus while working on his defense and adjusting to the college game.
“The game is a lot faster here and there are a lot better players,” Gordon said. “Everyone is that good. With me redshirting, that was good because I got to learn from Wes (Rea) and was influenced by all those guys. Redshirting helped the game slow down and made things a lot easier here.”
Gordon was finally able to make his long awaited debut in the season opener against Florida Atlantic and doubled in his second at bat the following day against South Dakota State.
“I was more excited than I was nervous,” Gordon said. “When I finally got out there it was just one of those things I’ve been waiting for, especially being here for a year. I’d seen it all and watched all those people come on and off the field and it was nice to finally go out there and have that feeling.”
Gordon certainly embraced the role of being the ultimate teammate the past two seasons and had his share of fun with his antics in the dugout to try and keep the team loose.
“I’ve had a great time,” Gordon said. “The guys here, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.”
Gordon was a third team Perfect Game All-American and the Class 7A Player of the Year out of Steinbrenner High School and hit .421 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs his final two years. He was recruited by Tennessee, Alabama, South Florida and Samford but there was something about his visit to State that he couldn’t turn down.
“It’s different here,” Gordon said. “When you come on a visit, you can definitely feel a different sort of family atmosphere and that’s what I was really looking for.”
Gordon is spending his summer playing first base and pitching for the Plymouth Pilgrims in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. So far, he his batting .257 with four doubles at the plate and has thrown a shutout inning of relief with a pair of strikeouts.