When members of the media contacts us or when we’re with audiences at speaking engagements, invariably the first question is, “Why isn’t Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame?” His absence in Cooperstown is arguably the worst miscarriage of justice by the voters in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His family, friends, and legions of fans have wanted that rectified for more than 40 years.
...While it’s true that many of his records have been surpassed, his power numbers still compare favorably to inductees whose careers began after his, including Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench. His slumps are looked upon derisively, but he still drove in 1,274 runs. Hall of Fame voters hold back votes from designated hitters, emphasizing how important fielding is, yet with few exceptions they ignore a player’s fielding prowess when they cast their ballots. Hodges won countless games with his glove and revolutionized the first base position.
If the writers and veterans have an excuse for their faulty voting over the years in regard to Hodges, it is that the Los Angeles Dodgers, unlike the Mets, have never retired his number. The Mets have, but not the organization he belonged to for more than 15 years. The Dodgers’ backward policy has been to only retire uniform numbers after a player has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thus, the Hall of Fame voters have been able to say: If the Dodgers don’t even consider Hodges for their Hall of Fame, there’s no reason I should consider him for ours.
The rules for induction into the Hall of Fame changed in recent years. Voters can select players from specific eras. In the vote held last December, advocates for Ron Santo made a big push and were successful in getting him elected even though no candidate from “The Golden Era” (1947-1972) stands out more than Hodges. It helps that his playing career and managing careers can now be combined, but that hasn’t yet righted a huge wrong.
All through the years Joan has kept her hopes alive that her husband will someday make the Hall of Fame. She wants baseball history, and Gil Hodges’ place in it, to be corrected for posterity. She doesn’t want her husband to be known as just another very good player when he put his body and soul into the game and deserves to be remembered for his vast contribution.
Posted: October 27, 2012 at 06:09 AM | 19 comment(s)
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