Dear Editor: The year was 1968. I was a seven-year- old in the second grade at Our Lady Help of Christians (OLHC) when my mother came home from an open school night and told me, “Hey, Ken, someone in your class has a very famous father. I just met the girl’s mother this evening.”
I asked who, and my mother said the name was Hodges, and the girl’s father was famous for baseball. Gil Hodges and his wife, Joan, were so much like my parents: devout Catholics who believed in a Catholic education at OLHC for their children.
Hodges had just taken over as manager of the Mets after a great playing career, mostly with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Mets had always been a miserable team, but new manager Hodges used the 1968 season to evaluate the talent he was given.
In the summer of 1969, the Mets surged ahead of all the other teams in the standings. Then, in October, 1969, Hodges coached the Mets and they shut down the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Championship. It was a miracle, almost akin to a biblical miracle we studied at OLHC. Only this miracle we witnessed in front of our very own eyes. The OLHC/Midwood neighborhood was delirious for one of OLHC’s very own – Gil Hodges – became Moses. He led us to the Promised Land.
Gil Hodges died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 47, just two-and-a-half years after this miracle. However, his baseball skills, his great character, and yes – his miracle – will never be forgotten. On my count, he is in every New Yorker’s Hall of Fame.