Hooray For Hodges – Former Mets’ Manager Coming To Cooperstown
Finally. Gil Hodges is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Nearly a half century after his death, the former Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman and manager of the World Series Champion 1969 New York Mets will have a plaque hung in his honor in the Hall. Hodges, who along with former players Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, and Minnie Minoso, received the required amount of votes by members of the Golden Days Era (1950-1969) for election to the Hall.
The announcement many New York City area baseball fans have been waiting for concerning Hodges' joining the Hall came two weeks back on December 5 in Orlando, Florida.
Hodges, who died on April 2,1972, just two days shy of his 48th birthday, is the 25th first baseman to join the Hall. The three-time Gold Glove winner is joining the likes of Orlando Cepada, Lou Gehrig, and Willie McCovey, among those Hall of Famers who primarily played first base.
Along with his success on the field and in the dugout, Hodges earned the respect of his players and opposing teams.
"It was delightful to hear that he finally made it in", said Tim McCarver, a longtime MLB catcher and broadcaster, during a phone conversation yesterday from his home in Sarasota, Florida." Gil was a terrific manager".
The Hodges family has been patient and hopeful through the decades, that the man they knew as dad and a loving husband to his wife Joan Lombardi Hodges of 23 years, is soon to be officially a hall of famer.
Joan Hodges, 95, still lives in the same Flatbush, Brooklyn home that she shared with her husband. Hodges enjoyed an 18-year playing career, 16 seasons with the Dodgers' organization.
"Thank God", Hodges' widow said earlier this week." So many people have called to express their happiness that Gil made the Hall of Fame. I want to thank everyone who remembers my Gil."
When the Hall of Fame inducts their next class on July 24, 2022 on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center, speaking on behalf of the Hodges family could be Gil Hodges, Jr. The oldest of Gil and Joan's four children, Gil, Jr. says as of now it hasn't been determined who from the family will make the acceptance speech.
"It has been a long time coming," said Gil, Jr. earlier this week of his father's election from his Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home." We've gone through a lot. Having mom still with us for the announcement is great. The next time dad would have come up for a vote would have been in five years."
According to Hodges, his whole family will be in Cooperstown for Induction Weekend.
"I want to thank everyone for remembering my father. This (election) is terrific for our family."
Gil, Jr. remembers being in Cooperstown and visiting the Hall of Fame many years back. It was after attending a wedding in the Catskills that he made a detour, and took in baseball's preeminent museum.
The Hodges' family learned of the Golden Days Era vote, when the call came to Joan in Brooklyn. She, then next, called Gil, Jr. with the good news.
Perhaps Gil Hodges greatest accomplishment of his time in baseball came in the fall of 1969, when in his second season piloting the Mets the club defeated a very heavily favorite Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. To this day, many in the "Big Apple" consider the "Amazin' Mets" world championship the greatest sports accomplishment of all-time.
Come July, Hodges will join " Boys of Summer " teammates in Brooklyn Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, and Jackie Robinson as residents forever at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.