Dodger Great and Mets Manager Gil Hodges Elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Gil Hodges

Gil Hodges. Bettmann/CORBIS

Dear Commons Community,

Almost fifty years after his death, Gil Hodges, a U.S. Marine, All-Star first baseman and World Series-winning manager, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

In his 35th appearance on a ballot for Cooperstown, the former Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers star and managerial force behind the 1969 Miracle Mets obtained the necessary 75 percent of the vote Sunday by the Golden Days Era committee for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.

Hodges, who received 12 of 16 votes (75 percent), joined Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso and Tony Oliva as selections by the committee. Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were chosen by the Early Baseball Era committee. As reported by The New York Post.

In 18 major league seasons, Hodges hit 370 homers and amassed 1,274 RBIs and 1,921 hits. An eight-time National League All-Star selection, he won three straight Gold Gloves at first base beginning in 1957, when the award was first instituted. He played for World Series-winning teams in Brooklyn (1955) and Los Angeles (1959). During Hodges’ peak seasons (1949-59), only teammate Duke Snider amassed more homers and RBIs. Hodges retired with the third-highest home run total by a right-handed hitter, behind only Jimmie Foxx and Willie Mays.

A World War II hero, Hodges was awarded a Bronze Star at Okinawa.

“Gil stood out as not only one of the game’s finest first basemen but also as a great American and an exemplary human being, someone many of us were in awe in of because of his spiritual strength,” former Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully recently wrote in support of Hodges’ candidacy.

Hodges’ managerial career began with the Washington Senators in 1963. Though Washington endured five losing seasons under his watch, the Mets thought highly enough of him to send the Senators pitcher Bill Denehy and $100,000 for the rights to hire Hodges following the 1967 season.

With Hodges in charge, the Mets went from worst-to-first, finishing 100-62 in 1969 before defeating the Orioles in five games in the World Series for the first of only two championships in franchise history. The ’69 Mets included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan.

“He taught us how to win, how to be gentlemen and to respect the game and respect each other, respect the opponents,” Koosman told The Post.

Hodges was 47 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack before the start of the 1972 season. The Mets subsequently retired his No. 14. Hodges’ survivors include his 95-year-old wife Joan.

“We would have been a powerhouse for many years if Gil had stayed on with us and not passed away,” Koosman said.

Hodges began appearing on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the 1969 election but never neared the 75 percent of the vote threshold needed for enshrinement. He reached his highest total, 63.4 percent, in his final year on the ballot in 1983.

After his removal from the writers’ ballot, he became a regular consideration by the various committees formed to consider players who may have been overlooked by the BBWAA. Hodges appeared on 12 of 16 (75 percent) of the ballots cast by the veterans’ committee in 1993, but his election to the Hall of Fame was overturned by a technicality. Roy Campanella had cast a vote for Hodges that was discarded because the Hall of Fame catcher (who was hospitalized) hadn’t attended the meeting.

Before this latest vote, Hodges had last appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot in December 2014, when he received “less than four” of the necessary 16 votes for enshrinement.

“We’ve all been rooting for years and trying to persuade the committee to elect him,” Koosman said. “I’m just so proud of him making it and happy for the whole family.”

My father was a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan until the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.  He never forgave Walter O-Malley, the team’s owner for the move.  In 1962, he became a New York Mets fan.  He suffered mightily with the Mets who lost consistently in the early 1960s but in 1969, to everyone’s amazement, the team won the World Series.  I never saw my father so happy.  He credited Manager Gil Hodges, the former Dodger, for the team winning the championship.  The weight of the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles was finally lifted from his psyche.


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