Here we are again asking one of the local baseball scene’s most puzzling questions: How on Earth is Gil Hodges not in the Hall of Fame?
Unfortunately, it’s a question that has lots of layers to unpack. Yet fortunately, we’re about to get another answer.
Hodges is once again up for election into Cooperstown on this year’s Golden Days Era Committee ballot. This vote was pushed back from last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As is the case with all things related to the Brooklyn Dodgers, it’s fitting that we’ve had to “wait till next year” for this important decision.
Before we dive into Hodges’ case for enshrinement, let’s look at the facts. The vote will take place as baseball’s annual Winter Meetings kick off in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 5, with the results broadcast live at 6 p.m. on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight.” The Golden Days Era Committee ballot features 10 players or managers who made their greatest impact during the years 1950 to 1969.
This is a change from previous Golden Era votes, which looked at the time period of 1947 to 1972. A 16-member voting committee holds all the power, and to be selected, a player would need 12 votes – aka 75 percent of the vote.
Along with Hodges, the other nine candidates are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, and Maury Wills. These are some impressive names who could hinder Hodges’ chances, especially Allen, Kaat, Miñoso, and Oliva.
Looking at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ roster of the early-to-mid 1950s, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, and Pee Wee Reese are all Hall of Famers. Yet Hodges was just as integral a player on those Brooklyn teams and beyond following the move to Los Angeles. There’s a reason he was part of seven pennant-winning teams: He was that good.
He was an eight-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, including the long-awaited 1955 title in Brooklyn. Starting in 1957, he won the first three Gold Glove Awards for first basemen at a time when there was only one award for both leagues.
For the decade of the 1950s, Hodges finished second in total home runs (310) and RBIs (1,001). As a manager, the former parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians, Midwood, guided the hapless New York Mets to nothing short of a miracle: the 1969 World Series title.
Whenever I’m in search of Brooklyn Dodgers information, I always go to three primary sources: Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, Brother Robert Kent, O.S.F., and Father Jim Devlin.
Bishop Ray has plenty of hope and said that not too many people embodied God, family, values, and baseball as well as Hodges did during his life and career.
“He has my vote,” the bishop said. “I pray to God that they’ll finally put him in the Hall because he deserves it. This would be good for the baseball world, it would be good for the Diocese of Brooklyn, and it would be good for everyone to see a Catholic gentleman – who was an excellent baseball player – in the Hall of Fame.”
Brother Robert, the alumni director and head varsity baseball coach at St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, said Hodges may have gotten lost in the shuffle since he played in an era with so many great ballplayers. Yet he truly believes Hodges should be in.
“He (Hodges) was an extraordinary person and a tremendous guy,” Brother Robert said. “Willie Mays, Stan Musial…the players that were around during that time that played against him think he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Father Devlin, pastor emeritus at Good Shepherd, Marine Park, is as passionate a Brooklyn Dodger fan as anyone, yet his knowledge of the Hall of Fame voting process has caused him to question whether Hodges will receive enough votes this time around.
“I love Gil Hodges,” Father Devlin said. “He was probably my favorite Dodger. It’s going to be a very close thing. My heart says yes, but my head says no. It’s been too long now.”
After this one, the next vote of the Golden Days Era Committee is set to take place in late 2026. Hodges’ 95-year-old widow Joan would surely be thrilled to see her husband finally enshrined in Cooperstown. Let’s hope the Baseball Gods finally answer her prayers.
Stay tuned, and keep those prayers coming. Hodges was known for his devout Catholic faith, so now it’s up to us fellow Catholics to keep the faith going strong as we await the final decision.
At this point, it’s all we can really do.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.