By Jim Freeman
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Keaton Jordan was a playground god of sorts in his junior high and high school days in the 1960s and 70s; even starred on La Follette’s state championship all-star baseball team in 1965. In fact, a Cincinnati Reds scout was at most of Jordan’s high school baseball games beginning his sophomore year.
Jordan starred on the hardwood and the diamond though he told me years later that basketball was his real love. Those athletic Keaton Jordan genes were passed down. Among those carrying on his athletic tradition were his daughter Melia starring on the 1994 Oak Ridge state basketball championship team and his grandson Drew Jordan, an all-star in football for the Campbell County Cougars.
Jerry Dagley was the head basketball coach at La Follette High School about the time Keaton started high school. “Keaton was a good friend since his high school days. We had a close relationship and enjoyed watching
his children and grandchildren play basketball,” said Dagley.
Keaton was funny about the box score that would show up in the Knoxville newspapers the next day after a basketball game. He said he’d rather his name appear without a point next to it opposed to when he had an off night scoring only a few points. I remember him saying that if you were scoreless readers might think you turned your ankle or ended up in foul trouble and didn’t play much at all.
The only time I ever saw Gary Gray, La Follette’s 6-6 big man, show any sign of anger was one day in practice. For some reason, Keaton ran and jumped on Gary’s back in piggy back riding style. That didn’t last long.
“Keaton and I were both catchers and roomed together many times on the road during our 1965 Little League Championship run. He was a great competitor and great guy who always had a smile and always had your back and will greatly missed by all of those who knew him,” said State Representative Dennis Powers.
Jordan’s number was 22, and everyone knew that. Or, at least, I thought they did. We had one last old timers basketball game before the LHS gym was razed. I was one of the first to arrive and pulled a well worn Owls jersey out of the jersey box. Keaton was expected to be there but was running late. In the mean time, another former Owl selected jersey number 22, and I knew right then that that wasn’t going to go over well. As soon as Keaton showed up he said, “Hey, that’s my number.” Keaton wore number 22 that night.
In his early days of baseball at LHS, a lot of us would laugh at visiting outfielders when Keaton would take a pitch deep. There was no fence at the old baseball field. Keaton would hit a ball so far that the outfielder would just be getting to it about the time Keaton was rounding third base heading for home.
Keaton Jordan headed for home for the last time earlier this week. He was laid to rest yesterday on top of the big hill at Bakers Forge.
Thanks for your friendship, pal. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/17/2021-6AM)