Gil Hodges on Veterans Hall of Fame Ballot

Legendary former Mets manager Gil Hodges is among 10 candidates who are on the Veterans Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame that was released on Thursday. Once and for all, let’s get him in there.

hodgesIt’s well known that Hodges has received more votes than anyone who is not in the Hall. His 63.4% in 1983 is the highest total for anyone who didn’t get in the following year. Of course, Hodges did not have a following year — that was his 15th and final time on the ballot. Veterans Committees have ignored him since, but this is the first time the committee will consider his candidacy after getting revamped a second time (the first revamping led to no one getting elected).

Hodges is certainly a worthy candidate. He hit 370 home runs, which may not seem like a lot now, but when he retired he was in or near the top 10 all-time. He had 30+ home runs in five consecutive seasons when hitting 30 homers was an accomplishment. He drove in 100+ runs seven straight times. He was an eight-time All-Star. He was a career .273 batter — not great, but on par with such recent inductees as Andre Dawson. Defensively, Hodges was the best first baseman of his day. The Gold Glove wasn’t introduced until 1957, 10 years after his career began. Hodges won it the first three seasons when he was already in his mid 30s (one of them was on display at his bowling alley in Brooklyn — I used to marvel at it and his other baseball mementos when I was a kid). He was also a leader of those great Brooklyn Dodgers teams.

Then there is his managerial record. He struggled in his first five years at the helm of terrible Washington Senators teams, but he found his way in New York, of course leading the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series championship. He was developing into an excellent manager when a heart attack killed him days before the 1972 season was about to start.

Hodges was also by all accounts a great man. Of course, there of lots of great men who are not in the Hall of Fame (and some rotten ones who are), but his solid character should be enough to push him through. He was widely respected throughout the league. Tom Seaver, for example, cannot say enough nice things about him.

Among the 16 people on the committee are Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda and Don Sutton. Kiner always spoke highly of Hodges, and Lasorda and Sutton are Dodgers, the former a huge booster for his team. Perhaps the three of them can convince the other members (unless Kiner is upset that Hodges had one more homer than him!). Hodges needs 75% of the vote when the committee marks its ballots on December 5 at the winter meetings — that’s 12 votes.

It’s about time Gil Hodges took his rightful place in Cooperstown.

4 comments on “Gil Hodges on Veterans Hall of Fame Ballot
  1. Gil has long been a disgraceful omission from the Hall. He was an anchor of the great Dodger teams, a tremendous fielder, a solid hitter with power and a class gentleman all the way. I met him in the spring of ’72 when I was nine. He posed for a picture with me outside Al Lang Field in St. Pete. The blow up of that photo hangs in my office. Eight days later he passed away.

  2. Growing up as a Dodger fan in Brooklyn during the 1950s, Gil Hodges was always my idol and he was a man of tremendous character and ability and his omission from the Hall of Fame is a travesty. When he left baseball, he was one of the premier power hitting first basemen as well as a superb fielder. Over the years, his power numbers were overshadowed by the steroid era numbers. I beleieve this is a major reason he has been overlooked. Now is the time to remedy this omission.

  3. Incredible that after all these years Gil Hodges is still not in the Hall of Fame. When Gil retired to manage The Senators in 1963, he had the 2nd most home runs in the NL by a right-handed hitter (the great Willie Mays was #1). Other stats; 5 straight years of 30 or more hr’s, 9 out of 10 years, 25 or more hr’s, 7 straight years with 100+ rbi’s, 8 out of 9 years as an All-Star. And in his 2nd year as Mets manager, a World Championship, the first to do it with an expansion team. Gil Hodges belongs in The Hall of Fame!

  4. big gil was the best defensive 1st sacker i ever saw…..i saw him play @ebbets many times. top of the line hitter.why he is not in the hall is a disgrace.i hope i live long enough to see this travesty rectified.i trust kiner & the rest of the vets hall commitee do the right thing & get big gil in there where he belongs.BIG PAIR OF HANDS LOVES TO PLAY BASEBALL.

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