Monday, January 05, 2015

No Respect: Gil Hodges and the Hall of Fame

Brooklyn Dodgers: The Loneliest Bum.

On Tuesday, congratulations will be in order for those former players who garner enough votes to gain entry into baseball's prestigious Hall of Fame.

Although his fate was decided upon by the Golden Era committee, July's festivities will not be without this one shortcoming - Gil Hodges is still not in the Hall of Fame.

This is one of the longest running mistakes in all of baseball, and a black eye upon its rich tradition and history.

Hall of Fame Criteria:

  • Voting shall be based on a players record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which that player played. - Hall of Fame.

Unofficially, it is also felt a player should have at least a 10-year span of sustained excellence.

Player's Record:

Gil Hodges hit 370 home runs in his career.  At the time of his retirement he was 10th all-time, and 3rd among right-handed hitters.

He topped 20 home runs for eleven straight seasons, topped 30 home runs six times, and topped 40 home runs twice.  He also has seven straight seasons of 100+ RBI, and 1,274 for his career.

From 1949 through 1959 Gil Hodges averaged 30 home runs, 101 RBI, accompanied by a .507 slugging average.  He ranked 2nd in the National League in home runs and RBI for the entire decade of the 1950s.

Playing Ability:

Between 1943 and 1947, Gil was limited to just 29 games, mostly due to military service.  For the 10 years between 1949 and 1958, Gil averaged 151 games per season, and led the league in games played twice.

In 1,908 games at first base, Gil posted a stellar .992 career fielding average, which was above the league's respective .990 FA.

The Gold Glove award was not created until 1957.  Gil Hodges won the award from 1957 through 1959; his final season as a full time player.

Integrity, Sportsmanship, and Character:

Tom Seaver, still the player to garner the highest percentage of votes in Hall of Fame history, and fellow military veteran, says the Mets do not win a championship in 1969 without Gil Hodges.

Every player on that Mets roster pointed to Gil Hodges as their supreme leader.  He was no less a leader of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He was the Quiet Man, but a strong minded man who no one in the league dared cross.

His team mates, those who played for him, and those who came to know him, all have profound admiration and the utmost respect Gil Hodges.  Include Jackie Robinson among those who lauded his integrity and character.

His sportsmanship was impeccable.  Are you kidding me?

Contributions to the teams on which that player played:

The Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers won seven pennants and a pair of world series championships with Gil playing first base and hitting in the middle of the order.  He generated the winning run in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series over the Yankees.

No one ever speaks of the famed Brooklyn Dodgers infield without including Gil Hodges at first.   That's insane, and just ignorant.  Again, are you kidding me?

He also took a perennially losing team in the expansion New York Mets, and turned them into a 100 win team and World Champions in 1969.

It is clear then, Gil Hodges was a dominant player for a decade in what was effectively a 16-year playing career.  Due credit must be given to the man who helped make the Brooklyn Dodgers one of baseball's all-time legendary teams.

And of course, there was his work in the same city as manager.  He's the man who orchestrated a miracle in Queens for an entirely different generation.

Why is Gil Hodges not in the Hall of Fame?

Shame on all those responsible.


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