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Snubbed again! Hall of Fame committee passes on Dodger icon Gil Hodges

The Brooklyn Paper

Gil’s been snubbed again — this time by his own friends!

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s new “Golden Era Committee” — which almost seemed as if it had been created to give Gil Hodges one more shot at Cooperstown — declined on Sunday to enshrine the Dodger great, choosing less-than-legendary Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo instead.

Nine members of the committee, which included known Hodges fans as Tommy Lasorda, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline and Ralph Kiner, voted for the induction of Hodges, three short of the 12 he needed.

Hodges’s career stats — a lifetime .273 batting average, plus 370 homers, 1,274 RBIs, and 1,921 hits — are just short of Hall of Fame standards, but the Indiana native was one of the dominent players of his era.

He broke in with the Boys of Summer in 1947 — the same year that Jackie Robinson broke the game’s noxious color barrier. Hodges emerged as a major force, knocking in 100 RBIs every season between 1949 and 1955. By the end of that decade, Hodges had knocked in more runs than any other National Leaguer.

The eight-time All Star helped lead Brooklyn to six pennants and one World Series title, and won another championship in Los Angeles before retiring in 1963 with more home runs, at the time, than any right handed hitter in league history.

But his greatest achievement was off the field: He led the fledgling Mets to their “miracle” World Series title in 1969, an accomplishment that still ranks up there with the moon landing, the invention of the polio vaccine and the splitting of the atom as the greatest fruits of human endeavor.

But it hasn’t been enough to earn Hodges a permanent place in baseball’s Pantheon in upstate New York. His widow, Joan Hodges, who still lives on a stretch of Bedford Avenue called “Gil Hodges Way,” said that she and longtime fans will never give up hope that the burghers of baseball will some day relent.

“I will never stop [hoping], not as long as I live,” she told this paper in 2008, the last time her husband was denied entry into the Hall. “If there was anyone who represented the national pasttime in every way possible, it was Gil.”

He did more than represent a kid’s game. He was also a man in every sense of the word.

Born in Indiana, Hodges was a former Marine who earned a commendation for courage under fire and a Bronze Star after fighting in Tinian and Okinawa during World War II. He died of a heart attack in 1972, two days shy of his 48th birthday.

Hodges became eligible for the Hall of Fame five years after he retired.

Under the museum’s complex new rules — which replaced the simpler Veterans Committee system — the elite panel votes on a ballot of eligible players, managers, umpires and executives from the “Golden Age” of baseball, 1947–1972, every three years.

Santo’s stats were no more impressive than those compiled by Hodges: a .277 lifetime batting average with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBIs over a 15-year career from 1960–1974 with the Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

Lasorda said Hodges could still make the grade in 2014, the next time the Hall of Fame will consider players of his generation.

“He was a great, great player,” Lasorda said at the news conference announcing the results. “We just hope that next [time we] can get him in.”

The loss leaves Hodges with only a street, a bridge and a school named after him.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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gary wade from sevierville, tn. says:
The first baseball card I ever saw was in 1954 of Gil Hodges. Thereafter, the Brooklyn "Bums" became my favorite National League team and Hodges, my favorite player, who, I learned, was also a war hero and the consumate gentleman. Down South, the papers provided more coverage to the New York teams, so I received daily doses of news, especially of the Dodgers and Yankees. Like all of Brooklyn, I mourned the Dodgers' departure to LA, which corresponded with Hodges' decline as a player. That he became a great manager, first with the Senators and then the Mets, was a delight. He died too young. I watch the news each year in hopes of HOF. I still have his card.
Dec. 6, 2011, 6:40 am
SAM MUSTO from BATH BEACH says:
WHAT A TRAVISTY!!!!!!!!!!
Why Ron Santo???????? BECAUSE HE WAS BELOVED... His stats were below Gils, never in the world series, never managed,never lead a happless Mets to the world championship. Not only a great player part of a team that has many in hall, but a superior mgr.
Santo cant compare. What a shame this man has been overlooked so long. As a youngster he was always my hero for his quiet demoner who without fanfare conducted himself adimirely both on or off field.
Dec. 6, 2011, 9:39 am
Patricia Walsh from Coudersport, PA says:
Gil Hodges was my favorite baseball player as a child and still is in my heart. In addition, to being a great player and coach, he inspired. His life is what baseball is and should be all about. Maybe we need to start praying. Our culture so needs men of his quality to emulate.
Dec. 7, 2011, 6:12 am
Ace from New Urecht says:
Hodges does deserve to be in. So does Ron Santo.
Dec. 7, 2011, 12:22 pm
andy from new jersey says:
As a Yankee fan Gil Hodges has always been my favorite Dodger/Met the elegant way he played the game the incredible way he managed the Mets to be the world champs in 1969 I will always remember 2 incidents the scuffed ball and pulling Cleon for a lack of hustle some consideration should also be given for the way he comported himself off the field also Marine Medal Of Honor winner does that not mean anything to them
Dec. 7, 2011, 3:47 pm
Dave Luckens from flatbush says:
Gil was a slugger,of course.He could break up any game with one swing-beyond that,no.14 was the finest defensive right handed first baseman,EVER.he excelled under the pressure of a decade's worth of pennant races,and world series-Brooklyn fans still remember that Hodges knocked in both runs in the deciding game of the only world series the mighty brooks ever won.the hof is diminished by his absence.
Dec. 7, 2011, 7:36 pm
Dave Luckens from Flatbush says:
one more thing,permit me to remind the readers of HOW IMPORTANT STELLAR DEFENSE WAS FOR THAT FABLED TEAM PLAYING IN THAT HITTERS' BANDOX OF A BALLPARK.THE HOF IS DIMINISHED BY THE ABSENCE OF BIG NO14-THE "CAT WHO CARRIED A CANNON". all the best in the new year.
Dec. 26, 2011, 9:11 am
Vin Smith says:
...Gil Hodges was a great, great player. Very consistent with his production, as witnessed by a long string of 20 or more homers in a season. He had the best hands of any first basman ever. But his greatest achievement might have been as a manager. I think he was one of the greatest managers of all time. He made the Senators respectable, and assembled the 1973 Mets World Series team before he died during Spring Training, that Yogi Berra took to the World Series. Had he lived he would have been one of the top three managers of all time.
March 19, 2012, 2:31 am
jeff klein from littelton says:
Gilbert Hodges deserves to be in the Hall,A great American who not only served his country in war but served his country everyday thereafter.Come on HOF voters you all need to wise up
Oct. 3, 2012, 8:49 pm
ken panzarino from staten island says:
In 1969, Gil Hodges, engineered one of the biggest miracles in sports history, guiding the traditionally losing Mets to a world championship. He was great in developing young pitchers, and in getting the most out of his position players with his platoon system. He was a great player, both offensively and defensively. He and teammate Duke Snider were first and second in the league in home runs and RBIS cumulatively during the decade of the 50's. He certainly deserves to be in the hall of fame.
Jan. 18, 2013, 2:12 pm
al policano from eastmeadow says:
a great first baseman a great manager and a greatman.what more can be said.the hall of fame committies should be ashamed for not electing gil.its up to the veterans committee to change this disgrace.
March 9, 2013, 7:11 pm
Bill Hall from Newport, Oregon says:
The Golden Era Committee will vote on Gil again this fall. I have started an online petition to support his candidacy. Please sign, and please consider sharing with others: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gil-hodges-belongs-in-the-baseball-hall-of-fame
June 5, 10:04 pm

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