The Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee has spoken, and once again it has denied Gil Hodges his rightful place in Cooperstown. Hodges garnered just nine votes, three shy of the 12 votes needed for enshrinement. The committee did, however, elect Ron Santo, which is puzzling because their statistics were very similar.
Santo hit .277 with 2254 hits, 342 home runs and 1331 RBIs. He was a nine-time All Star and won the Gold Glove five times. Hodges batted .273 with 1921 hits, 370 home runs and 1274 RBIs. He was an eight time All Star and won three Gold Gloves. It should be noted that the fielding award was first handed out in 1957, late in Hodges’s career. He won the first three. Both were regarded as among the top fielders at their respective positions during their careers.
Here’s where it gets interesting — Santo played in exactly zero post season games. Hodges was a leader on a Brooklyn Dodgers team that went to seven World Series. Hodges, of course, was also a manager, working miracles with the 1969 Mets.
Santo was never really close to getting elected by the writers; he topped out at 43% in his final year of eligibility. Hodges’s best total was also in his final year — 63%, the closest anyone has ever gotten without later being elected.
Santo was a fine ballplayer, and until he died last year, he was a high profile guy as a longtime radio broadcaster with the Cubs. He also garnered a lot of sympathy for his long battle with diabetes that resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. In contrast, Hodges has been dead for nearly forty years. He is long forgotten by many.
Some writers think Hodges is a marginal candidate at best. Even if that is true, his managing career should put him over the top. And if Santo deserves to get in, so does Hodges.