Gil Hodges Is in Our Hall of Fame

I had the date Dec. 8 marked off on my calendar for months. Of course, Dec. 8 every year is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but this year was different.

This was the year that Brooklyn baseball legend Gil Hodges would finally be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, and Dec. 8 was the day of the vote.

Gil Hodges
Gil Hodges

So at 2 p.m., I had my computer queued up to the live press conference where I was expecting the good news.

Now, unlike years past, there was a different feel this time around. The support and enthusiasm surrounding Hodges’ case seemed like it would be enough to drive at least 12 of the 16-member Golden Era Committee to put a check mark next to his name – thus granting him admission into the Hall of Fame and his rightful place amongst baseball immortality.

And then the announcement happened.

I was dumbfounded when Hodges’ name was listed in the group having received three or fewer votes – well short of the 12 needed for election. It turns out none of the 10 eligible players were elected from this ballot.

Basically this entire year, I’ve been following Gil’s Hall of Fame case. I even signed a petition that was sent to Cooperstown and included the names of more than 3,000 former players, baseball writers and fans – all of whom realize this injustice against one of the game’s good guys.

To be honest, the results of the last few Hall of Fame votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America had me believing that a player like Hodges might finally receive the respect he deserves. With the writers’ reluctance to vote for alleged or confirmed steroid users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, I figured that a player that embodied respect for the game while also putting up great numbers would be a shoo-in.

Sure, I never saw Gil play with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and I never saw him manage the 1969 Miracle Mets to a World Series championship – though I thoroughly wish I could have seen both! But just from hearing the countless stories and firsthand accounts, it really is a mystery as to why Hodges has been left out.

He was one of the centerpieces of Dodgers’ teams that made seven World Series appearances during his 18-year career. Those teams included icons like Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese – all of whom have their faces engraved on plaques in Cooperstown.

Hodges himself was an eight-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and finished his career with 370 home runs, which was the most of any right-handed hitter in National League history at the time he retired in 1963. And while the numbers speak for themselves, Hodges went about his business with integrity, character and sportsmanship.

Interestingly enough, an important component in judging a player’s criteria for Hall of Fame consideration is an emphasis on that player’s integrity, character and sportsmanship. Some would argue – and I would agree – that Hodges, a parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians, Midwood, during his years in Brooklyn – ranks as high in this category as any player that ever put on a baseball uniform.

It’s really mind-boggling as to why Hodges has not been voted into the Hall. My only cogent guess would be that when he passed away suddenly on Easter Sunday in 1972 from a heart attack at the age of 48, his name was simply forgotten from baseball lore.

At that time, he was in the prime of his managerial career, having just led the Mets – who not too long before were considered the laughingstock of baseball – to a World Series title. Maybe another decade as Mets’ manager and maybe even another World Series ring thrown in there, and Hodges’ name would have continued to resonate with the public to the point where his accomplishments as a player would not be overlooked.

You may be thinking as you read: Why is Jim so passionate about a player he never even saw take the field?

Well, while that may be true, I am all about seeing players who have rightfully earned their due recognition – like Hodges – actually receive their reward.

But I’m also passionate about this cause because I know it would mean the world to Gil’s 88-year-old widow Joan. She has patiently waited for all these years.

Gil will next appear on the Golden Era ballot in 2017. However, the vote from this go-around doesn’t exactly suggest that anything will change in three years.

But looking at the big picture, there’s something else that will never change: Gil Hodges is in my Hall of Fame, and he’s in the Hall of Fame of his family, fans and really anyone who respects the game of baseball as America’s pastime.

For young players learning how to play the game with character, look to Gil Hodges. For fathers teaching their sons the lessons that can be learned through the game, look to Gil Hodges. Even for professional baseball players realizing they have been given a gift from God to play a game for a living, look to Gil Hodges.

So while Gil may not have a plaque hanging alongside baseball’s greats in Cooperstown, his legacy is forever etched within the minds and hearts of those whom he touched as a player, manager and – most importantly – a man of faith.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at

One thought on “Gil Hodges Is in Our Hall of Fame

  1. I didn’t know Mr. Hodges, but his sister taught me in grade 7 in 1962 and 1963 school years in Glace Bay N.S.
    Sister Mary Delores was her name and I think she mentioned he was her brother. What a shame, he was a fine looking man, and she was a lovely person too, and a great musician. She played the piano, which was in her classroom, and a great singer. We would always have singing in the class on Friday afternoons, to keep in shape. I think we all did well for ourselves, teachers and doctors. I ‘m not a Dr., but a commissionaire, unemployed at present due to a stroke I had over three years ago. May he rest in peace, and his family too.
    Jim P. Cameron