It’s time Gil Hodges went to Cooperstown.
It’s that time of year when the Hall of Fame ballots come out, and recently the Hall of Fame released ten candidates from the Golden Era (1947-72). Joining Hodges, who is in the running for consideration for the ninth year are: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, executive Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.
Unfortunately, I only vote in the annual balloting and not on this committee. Otherwise, I would vote for Hodges and Kaat.
I’m not a big believer of comparing eras because the conditions differ from era to era. I look at it as how that player fared in his time, and The Boys Of Summer aren’t the same without Hodges. Very few players transcend eras, such as Babe Ruth.
He hit 370 homers with 1,274 RBI despite missing two years serving in World War II. Using today’s stats, he also had a .359 on-base percentage and .846 OPS. Hodges averaged 29 homers and 100 during his 18-year career – which included the Mets in 1962 and 1963 – but never once struck out 100 times. He also won three Gold Gloves.
Of all the great Hodges stories, the one that stands out most was when fans in Brooklyn went to church to pray for him during the 1952 World Series.
Hodges was known for his quiet dignity, best exemplified when he walked out to left field to remove Cleon Jones from a July game in 1969 for not hustling.
There was no argument from Jones and neither hashed it out in the papers, either. Can you imagine that today, in any sport? Many Mets followers said the incident sparked their pennant run.
To this day, Tom Seaver chokes up when he talks about Hodges, calling him the key behind the 1969 Miracle Mets’ championship run.
Here’s hoping Seaver chokes up again when Hodges’ name is finally called.