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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Baseball Player Who Was the Most Admired in the Entire Universe

When Brooklyn came knocking, they were sons of the 1920s, youngsters from Indiana. Anderson resident Carl Erskine was about three years younger than Petersburg resident Gil Hodges. Hodges hit four home runs and Erskine went the distance in a complete game that included four hits at the bat. It was one of the most memorable afternoons in sports history. In addition to being friends with the slugger, the pitcher was also friendly with his family.

The next day, Erskine called from Indiana to say, “I knew his brother and I knew his father.” “Three of them gentlemen passed away as a result of the same cardiac problem.” Hodges was one of the tallest and strongest guys on the squad, and yet his heart was not strong, and he died much too soon in life.”

Hodges died on Easter Sunday, 1972, in West Palm Beach, Florida, after playing a game of golf with his Mets coaches during spring training. He was just 47 years old at the time. Erskine will celebrate his 95th birthday on Dec. 13, making him one of just two remaining Dodgers — the other being Roger Craig — who were part of the 1955 World Series championship team that won the title. Despite the fact that their flame is flickering, their legend continues to blaze brighter. Hodges is a member of the National Football Hall of Fame.

A 16-member panel, for the first time, came up with a different conclusion from the others on Sunday, and he finally made it! Hodges will finally get a plaque at Cooperstown, New York, after being denied for 15 years by the writers and then by many versions of the veterans committee.

During a ride up Broadway in an open convertible with Gil’s widow, Joan Hodges, the ticker tape swirled like snowflakes as they passed each other in October 1969. Hodges’ World Series victory as manager of the Miracle Mets was the first of three championships he earned in his managerial career. In 1959, his last major-league season, he also contributed to the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series.

In each of the five seasons from 1949 through 1959, Hodges hit 30 homers and drove in 101 runs. With 370 home runs in his career, Hodges was second only to Jimmie Foxx and Willie Mays in the number of home runs hit by a right-handed batter in May 1963, when Hodges retired. Hodges is now trailed by more than 40 right-handed pitchers.

In baseball, Hodges may have possessed the largest set of hands ever. That is, at least, what Roger Kahn wrote in “The Boys of Summer,” which is supported by the following comment from shortstop Pee Wee Reese: “Gil wears a glove at first base because it is trendy. ” He doesn’t really need a cane with those hands.”

Cooperstown has long been a source of anxiety for Hodges. Before he died, he was gaining ground on the authors’ ballot, but then he was stuck in a rut for more than a decade, receiving 49 to 63 percent of the vote in the end. Historically, virtually every candidate who receives that much support ultimately makes it in, but the committees had never pushed Hodges over the 75 percent mark before now.

One issue that Hodges encountered was the fact that applicants are intended to be evaluated based on either their playing or management careers, and not both at once. According to this rigorous reading, Hodges’ 1969 World Series championship with the Mets could not have pushed him over the edge.. His biography hinges on this accomplishment, and his players have long praised Hodges for his ability to use role players well and for insisting on a clean style of play.

A few of years ago, Mets outfielder Cleon Jones recounted how the Braves’ Hank Aaron forewarned a Baltimore scout that his team, the fancied Orioles, may be facing adversity when the Mets defeated Atlanta in the 1969 National League Championship Series.

The fact that Hodges was so collected and never prone to temper outbursts surprised his Brooklyn colleagues, according to Erskine, who compared him to the Orioles’ Earl Weaver. “It was a surprise,” Erskine recalled. According to Erskine, a boss without a “strong personality” was quite uncommon.

In the wake of their World Series victory, the Mets were unable to capitalise on their success. Each seasons after that, they ended 83-79, good enough for third place in both. First baseman Ed Kranepool said on Monday that the Mets would have won “many, many more pennants” if Hodges had been alive. The truth is, there is no way to tell for certain.

But it’s a reasonable bet that Hodges would have received his Hall of Fame election with a low-key demeanour, preferring not to make a big deal about it. His legacy and family were established in New York, yet he was a true Indiana native in his core.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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