Gil Hodges Final Swing

GIL HODGES FINAL SWING

Next Sunday the Veterans Committee will announce the Hall of Fame inductions for the Early Baseball Era and Golden Days Era. The news will be broadcast live on the MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.

For New York Mets fans — and New York baseball fans, in general — there is a heavy interest in the Golden Days Era which most notably includes Gil Hodges on the ballot. Hodges played In addition to his 16 years between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Hodges played the two final seasons of his career for the Mets. He returned to the Mets in 1967 when the team made a deal with the Washington Senators for the rights to Hodges.

The rest is history. In 1969, Hodges led the Mets to their first World Series title in franchise history.

I know this: The man should be in the Hall of Fame. From his time as a player and what he meant to the Dodgers and how they succeeded as a team, and what he did as a manager … if you can’t combine those things and put him where he belongs in the Hall of Fame? Shame on you. – Ron Swoboda

Longtime New York sports columnist Bill Madden reasoned:

My first and foremost criteria for the Hall of Fame has always been dominance. Did this player dominate in the game for a substantial period of time? … This, in my opinion, is where Hodges falls short … In 18 years in the big leagues, he never once led the league in any offensive category. His supporters will note that he drove in 100 or more runs seven straight seasons from 1949-55 but that was also while hitting fifth or sixth in arguably one of the greatest lineups of all time … He obviously gets big points for managing the Mets to their miracle world championship in 1969 but his overall managing record was 660-753 with no other first place or even second place finishes.

Another benchmark I have always had for position players is 2,000 hits — and in that too Hodges (1,921) falls short.

So if Hodges is to finally be elected, it will not be on his stats. It could, however, be on something more intangible. For if any player in history has epitomized the Hall’s “character, sportsmanship and integrity” clause (which has played such a big part in the voting in recent years), it’s Gil Hodges.

In previous years on the ballot, Hodges best return was 63.4%. This year will be Hodges 20th and final swing at the Hall of Fame. It will be in the hands of the Veterans Committees to accumulate 75% (12 of 16 voters) to meet the minimum requirement for election into the Hall of Fame.

Hodges will join former New York players Roger Maris and Ken Boyer, plus , Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Dick Allen, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Maury Wills. and Jim Kaat on the ballot.

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