Gil Hodges, the manager that guided the Mets to their very first World Series title during their miracle run of 1969 (sorry Cubs fans), will mostly be remembered as the first baseman of the Brooklyn Dodgers. With him the Dodgers won their only World Series as Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955.
Gil Hodges’ authentic jersey in a display in Dodger Stadium
After fifteen times on the ballot, his name was removed because he never received enough votes. His passing in 1972 is considered to be the main reason why he wasn’t elected. Many Dodger greats lived on and received attention but Hodges disappeared into oblivion.
Hodges was considered one of the finest first basemen of the 1950s. He won three consecutive gold gloves in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He was an eight time All Star and won three World Series titles (one as a manager). In 1950 he became the second player after Lou Gehrig to hit four homeruns in one game (after 1900). As a Los Angeles Dodger, in 1958, he became the seventh player to hit 300 homeruns in the National League. His career batting average of .273 and slugging percentage of .487 never were enough to get him into Cooperstown. Next to these stats he is second in a number of National League records: double plays for right-handed first basemen (1,614), assists (1,281).
Opponents to his election claim that he never won an MVP title and never led the NL in any offensive category like homeruns. But IMO these reasons are nonsense. Through the years several players without an MVP title have earned a spot in the walhalla of baseball: Al Kaline, Eddie Murray and Billy Williams. Others like Tony Perez and Barry Larkin have never led their league in any offensive category, but still they have been elected.
In 1993 Hodges came one vote short in the voting of the Veterans Committee, in a year that no player was elected. In November 2011, Hodges became a Golden Era (1947-1972 era) candidate. This committee assembles every three years to vote for a candidate. In 2011 they voted for Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs. Gil Hodges ended with nine votes in that year.
So this year is the next chance for Hodges to enter the Hall of Fame. If he will not get enough votes, maybe his family should make a huge donation to the Hall of Fame, so the next time he will get in. The O’Malleys did exactly the same in 2008 and promptly Walter O’Malley was inducted.
I think that Gil Hodges deserves a spot in Cooperstown. He was part of a legendary team that made it to the World Series six times. A legendary team with players like Peewee Reese, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and Don Drysdale. Players that made it to the HOF. In my humble opinion, a fine defensive first baseman like Gil Hodges should be the next in line.