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Gil Hodges finally gets his call to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Gil Hodges
Gil Hodges
Wikimedia Commons

It’s an honor that should have been anointed upon Gil Hodges so many years ago but finally, he is getting the recognition he deserves.

The baseball legend who plied his trade in Brooklyn and Queens for most of his life received the necessary 75% of the votes from the Golden Days committee to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022, it was announced on Sunday.

Decades-long campaigns have been run to get the Princeton, IN native into the Hall of Fame considering he was one of the premier first basemen of his era and later, an odds-defying manager.

In parts of 18 MLB seasons (2,071 games) with two years eliminated due to military service, Hodges slashed .273/.359/.487 (.846 OPS) with eight All-Star appearances, 1,921 hits, and 370 home runs.

And most of that success came in New York, first with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-1957 before moving with the franchise out west to Los Angeles in 1958. He came back to New York four years later as a familiar face for the expansion Mets before retiring from playing in 1963.

At the time of his retirement, he held the National League record for home runs hit by a right-handed batter and second in MLB history only behind Jimmie Foxx.

His NL record of 14 grand slams also stood from 1957 to 1974.

Over an 11-year peak — one season more than what is normally the first thing Hall of Fame voters look at — from 1949-1959, he slashed .281/.368/.508 (.877 OPS) with averages of 30 home runs and 101 RBI. That included a career-best 1954 season in which he batted .304 with 42 home runs and 130 RBI.

The statistics have always warranted induction, but Hodges was also a part of two of the most memorable World Series winners in baseball history. 

He was an anchor of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1955 championship in which he drove in both runs in a 2-0 Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees before managing the Miracle Mets as a manager in 1969 to one of the most improbable titles in sports. 

Hodges was still working as the Mets manager when he died unexpectedly in 1972. His No. 14 was retired by the team the following year while on their way to another improbable National League pennant.

His wife, Joan, still lives in Brooklyn — now 96 years old and oh so deserving of seeing her husband enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

She’s had to experience decades of near-misses for Hodges. 

He’s received more votes than 27 Hall of Famers 146 times. He’s also the only player to get 50% of the vote from the BBWAA and still not get the nod from the Veterans Committee. 

Then there was the fiasco of 1993 when he and Leon Day received the necessary 12 of 16 votes from the Veterans Committee to warrant enshrinement. But then-committee-chairman Ted Williams eliminated the vote of Hodges’ former Brooklyn teammates, Roy Campanella — who was in the hospital and died shortly after — because he did not cast his vote in person, sinking the percentage to 73.3%.

Now, finally, Joan will get to see her husband take his rightful place in Cooperstown. 

 

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