Jump to content

The Case For Gil Hodges


knnhrvy16

Recommended Posts

Hello all.

If hadn't told already by my signature, I'm somewhat of a campainger for Dodger great Gil Hodges' induction into the hall of fame. I'm a Dodger fan, yes, so call me loyalist if you want. But even if I wasnt a fan I can assure you, I wouldve come across Hodges and would have done excactly the same thing i'm doing now.

I wish in this topic to plead his case, and to express the frustration that I as a fan and many others, fans or not, feel when he gets passed over each and every year, missing election by just a hair.

First, let me start off with my reaction to the past election, following that will be some catchy info.

When I heard that there was finally a successful election by the Veteran's committee, I was very excited, being certain that after consecutive previous elections of Hodges finishing just a smidgeon short, that he FINALLY got his due. But that excitement turned to mere and utter confusion as I learned that Joe Gordon came from absolutely nowhere to get the veteran's committee nod, even though he hadnt come close to being a high finalist before. JOE GORDON. Seriously? I wouldve understood if it were to be Ron Santo. But JOE GORDON?

Its not that i dont think Gordon was a derserving player. Of course he is. There was a reason he was on the ballot. Its the fact that it seems in every election Hodges and Santo finish neck-to-neck, first and second respectively but dont get a high enough percent to win, and then all of a sudden someone who wasnt in that mix comes along and just happens to get enough to win. How that makes sence is beyond me.

Now for the case.

People look at Hodges' record and say "he dosent have enough hits. he dosent have a high enough average. He never won an MVP award."

Hmmm....interesting because I can rattle off a few players who have less on thier records than Gil does. Hmmm....interesting cause I can name dozens of hall of famers who have never won an MVP award and I can tell you the excact, legitamate reason that he unfortunately never won an MVP.

Let's start with the hits. Gil Hodges' total: 1,921.

Okay, yes it isnt 2,000. But here are a list of hall of fame position players with hit totals lower than 1,921:

(Excluding all players whose careers were cut short by injury, war-time, preceding negro-league career, or death)

Frank Baker (1,831)

Lou Boudreau (1,779)

Roger Bresnahan (1,252)

Frank Chance (1,274)

Mickey Cochrane (1,652)

Earle Combs (1,866)

Johnny Evers (1,659)

Buck Ewing (1,655)

Rick Ferrell (1,692)

Elmer Flick (1,752)

Gabby Hartnett (1,912)

Travis Jackson (1,768)

Hughie Jennings (1,526)

George Kelly (1,778)

Tony Lazzeri (1,840)

Fred Lindstrom (1,747)

Ernie Lombardi (1,792)

Tommy McCarthy (1,495)

Phil Rizzuto (1,588)

Ray Shalk (1,345)

Joe Tinker (1,560)

Hack Wilson (1,461)

Well, if 2,000 is a magic number, then it makes you wonder how 22 others made it.

and there may be a point made that some of these players played in older eras and that they shouldnt count on this list. Well here's what I say: there are many players who played in the same eras with 2,000 or more or even 2,500 or more hits (Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, Cap Anson, John Ward just to name a few of the many), so if that point tries to be made, I won't buy it.

Gil had a lesser hit total because his career started on the heels of a military deployment. That's right, he began his career in 1943, only to be shipped to the pacific soon afterwards and spent three seasons there. Surely, had he played those three seasons, especially during war time, he wouldve have made up for at least 69 hits. He may have ended up somewhere around 2,250.

Next lets go to the average. Gil's average: .273

I actually find .273 to be very respectful.

Here's another list of hall of fame position players with averages equal to or less than .273:

Luis Aparicio (.262)

Johnny Bench (.267)

Johnny Evers (.270)

Carlton Fisk (.269)

Reggie Jackson (.262)

Harmon Killebrew (.256)

Rabbit Maranville (.258)

Bill Mazeroski (.260)

Willie McCovey (.270)

Joe Morgan (.271)

Pee Wee Reese (.269)

Phil Rizzuto (.273)

Brooks Robinson (.267)

Ray Shalk (.253)

Mike Schmidt (.267)

Ozzie Smith (.262)

Joe Tinker (.263)

Bobby Wallace (.268)

George Wright (.255)

Now, I know what some of you are saying. "Smith, Robinson and Mazeroski were more of the defensive type. Some of those guys were all power hitters."

Let me adress these points.

Yes, a few of those were defensive mided players, and great ones too. But you'd be suprised to know that Hodges was quite the defensive wizard himself. Infact, he may have been one of the greatest defensive first basemen of all time.

Get this: In his career, Hodges boasted a sparkling .992 fielding average, as well as 15,772 putouts, 1,632 double plays, and oh, not to mention, he was awarded the first three gold gloves ever given in NL history at first base - all towards the TAIL-END of his career. Just imagine if the gold glove was around his whole career. If he could win three consecutive awards nearing the end of his career, there's no telling how many he couldve won in his prime.

Now, for the power. When he retired in 1963, playing in a career that statistically speaking spanned 20 years but literally speaking was closer to around 14 seasons due to war-time and injury, Hodges had a total of 370 home runs. At the time of his retirement, that total ranked TENTH all-time and SECOND all-time for right handers, behind Jimmie Foxx. Now, for 14 literal seasons, thats alot if you ask me. That's an average of 26.4 per season with his highest total being 42 round-trippers in 1954, with another 40-HR season a couple of seasons before in 1951, when he hit an even 40. He hit 20 or more homers in eleven straight seasons from 1949-1959, each time finshing in the top ten totals in the league.

His runs batted in total was also high for a literal 14 season career, having a career total 1,274; an average of 91 per season.

He had seven consecutive 100-RBI seasons from 1949-1955, and had 11 seasons total with at least 70 or more.

He was selected to eight all-star games (1949-1955, 1957) and played in 2,071 games in his career.

He was part of two world championships as a player (1955, 1959), and one as a manager (1969 - NYM)

He was also part of seven pennants as a player and one as a manager.

Last but not least, my point on why he never won an MVP.

He most certainly couldve won an MVP, however people over look the fact that he played on Dodger teams that ANUALLY had three, let alone four or even five MVP candidates on the SAME TEAM. Don't you think you'd be overshadowed if you played on the same team as Campanella, Snider, Robinson, Reese and Newcombe? Truth is, during Hodges tenure as a Dodger player, three of those players won MVP awards. Campanella won three (1951, '53, '55) , while Robinson (1949) and Newcombe (1956) each won one. I dont know about you, but if I were a voter I'd say that's a pretty legitimate reason to have never won an MVP, even though he surely deserved one.

And one last point that is anually made by many, Hodges died very young at the age 48 in 1972. You wonder what the significance is of this - and i'll tell you. Having died 37 years ago, he has been unable to campaign for himself nor have many others ever done it for him, either. The only significant campaigning is usually from his former teammates, most notably Carl Erskine and Duke Snider. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, his name is not fully passed around to baseball fans today.

Hence the reason i'm trying to do my part to help him now.

I believe i've made all the points that I could, and hopefully this raises more awareness of Hodges' accomplishments and shows everyone just how deserving a player he is. Sorry for the length, but I figured in this case where each and every point had to be made, it was neccessary.

Thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hodges should be in the Hall, not only are his numbers great, but he was very clutch and a big team leader for that legendary Brooklyn Dodger team in the 1950s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He was a very good player, but simply not good enough.

Also, you can't use "would have" and "could have" as an argument, because he didn't. His final numbers just aren't enough.

I see what your saying, but I still think the military missed time argument is fair. Its something he had no control over, and the hall of fame never has held military time against a candidate (until Hodges, who they seem to forget served at the start of his career). So I still think its a fair argument.

And you say his final numbers just arent enough, I'm sorry but with all respect, I have to disagree.

I honestly think its a disgrace that the hall of fame has purely tried to become a statistical haven where only players who surpass these unofficial "magic numbers" get in. Why? Because that makes them the biggest hypocrites in sports.

As prevously stated, 22 players with lesser hit totals than Hodges, whose careers did not end because of injury, military time, or death, have been elected. None of those players have hit 370 home runs, and many of them do not have as many RBIs (1,274). Three of those players who have lesser hit totals have averages seven points or lower than Hodges' .273, with a few others hovering around that total (including Phil Rizzuto, who compiled the same .273 average but with 1,588 hits, 38 homers, and 562 RBIs to his record - MUCH less than Hodges). So if you want to crunch numbers, do the research and you'll find the hall of fame has elected much worse players than Hodges.

If his number's arent enough, then a good number of other players' who WERE elected shouldnt have been, either.

If they can be elected, then so can Gil. There's no reason in Hades that numbers better than others elected should keep him out. How does that make sence? It doesent.

But we also forget that the hall of fame was made for character as well. Me being a senior in high school, I unfortunately never got the chance to watch him play. But, luckily, someone very close to me did.

My grandfather was also a Dodger fan, spending some of his young years in Brooklyn. He watched all the greats - Robinson, Reese, Snider, Newcombe, Black, Erskine, Hodges. Jackie Robinson was his favorite player, but of all the players on the Dodger team, he's always said that Gil Hodges had the most heart, the best character, and the best poise. He told me when you watched him, he seemed like the ideal ballplayer; what a ballplayer should be. Taking that from somebody very wise, somebody I trust, and someone who bled Dodger blue before the statement was even coined - I believe every word of it.

Not to mention the many testimonies from those close to him. I've watched interviews, read interviews, read stories, anything you could dig up on the subject of Hodges' character. And not one person (mind you, these are many players and coaches involved in a baseball career that spanned almost 35 years) ever said anything bad about Hodges. His teammates called him the best friend you could have - the players he managed called him thier father figure. He never got in trouble with anyone, and only had soft spoken and calm words for everyone. As NJ Tank said, he was also a natural leader for those great Dodger teams. People forget, that despite the fact that Pee Wee Reese was the official captain, Hodges played the role of unofficial captain - leading by flawless example. And to prove it wasnt just Dodger team chemistry and magic, after winning 7 pennants and two World Series titles as a Dodger, he managed the Amazin' Mets to the 1969 title - and we all know how bad they had been before hand.

So with research you'll find his numbers should qualify compared to others who had been elected. You'll find that as a man, you couldnt ask for anyone better. So what more can you ask for?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hodges was unlucky in that he had to serve in the military, but you still can't use the "would've, could've" argument, because that opens up a can of worms that will eventually lead to "in a perfect world" stats. Ken Griffey Jr. would have 700 HR's had he not been injury-prone this decade. Nick Adenhart, for all we know, could have set modern-day records in wins and ERA had he not died back in April. We'll never know, but we can't assume, either. That's why you have to go with the stats they got, and not the ones they could have gotten.

What are the benchmark stats that solidify Hall of Fame status? 500 HR's, 3,000 hits, 1,500 RBI's, etc.? Hodges didn't reach any of these plateaus, and he didn't excel in any category(ies) to offset shortcomings in other areas. And as you pointed out earlier, didn't win any MVP awards (his highest finish in an MVP ballot is 7th), and won only a small amount of defensive awards....certainly nowhere near what others have garnered.

Gil Hodges is:

109th in RBI's. (#1 Hank Aaron has 2297)

795th in batting average. (#1 Ty Cobb was .366)

293rd in hits. (#1 Pete Rose has 4256)

67th in HR's. (#1 Barry Bonds has 762)

185th in games played. (#1 Pete Rose has 3562)

...and those stats aren't getting any better.

Using Baseball-Reference.com, towards the bottom of the page, you'll see that his numbers come up just short of the average/likely HOF'er has, as well as comparable players across the various baseball eras. Gil Hodges was a very good player, but not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hodges was unlucky in that he had to serve in the military, but you still can't use the "would've, could've" argument, because that opens up a can of worms that will eventually lead to "in a perfect world" stats. Ken Griffey Jr. would have 700 HR's had he not been injury-prone this decade. Nick Adenhart, for all we know, could have set modern-day records in wins and ERA had he not died back in April. We'll never know, but we can't assume, either. That's why you have to go with the stats they got, and not the ones they could have gotten.

What are the benchmark stats that solidify Hall of Fame status? 500 HR's, 3,000 hits, 1,500 RBI's, etc.? Hodges didn't reach any of these plateaus, and he didn't excel in any category(ies) to offset shortcomings in other areas. And as you pointed out earlier, didn't win any MVP awards (his highest finish in an MVP ballot is 7th), and won only a small amount of defensive awards....certainly nowhere near what others have garnered.

Gil Hodges is:

109th in RBI's. (#1 Hank Aaron has 2297)

795th in batting average. (#1 Ty Cobb was .366)

293rd in hits. (#1 Pete Rose has 4256)

67th in HR's. (#1 Barry Bonds has 762)

185th in games played. (#1 Pete Rose has 3562)

...and those stats aren't getting any better.

Using Baseball-Reference.com, towards the bottom of the page, you'll see that his numbers come up just short of the average/likely HOF'er has, as well as comparable players across the various baseball eras. Gil Hodges was a very good player, but not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

I'm not trying to get in any argumentative war or anything, I hope you dont think that and I do respect your opinion. But that still dosent explain to me why a good 15 or so players whose collective statistics were either equal to or less than Hodges record can be elected, but he can't. If he shouldnt be elected, then Ray Shalk, Johnny Evers, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Tinker (must I go on?) shouldnt have been, either. Tell me how that makes any sence?

I had pointed this following point out earlier, but I probably should again. He only won a small amount of defensive awards because, well, the gold glove was first awarded in 1957, six seasons before Hodges' retirement. Guess who won the first three first base gold gloves ever awarded? Yes, Hodges did. Shouldnt a .992 fielding average for a career which spanned a time without defensive awards tell you he was a very good defender?

These benchmark statistics youre giving me, once again, I'm sure 1/4th or even 1/3rd of the hall's memeber's don't meet those marks whatsoever. Some are head-scratchers to the highest degree (Joe Tinker - 1,560 hits, .263 avg. - seriously?). So honestly, I think there arent really any "benchmark" statistics per say, seeing as time theyve been completely inconsistent. I don't think that should be held against Hodges, seeing as he surpassed even hall of famers' own records.

Yeah, he never led the league in any category. But once again, neither did countless other hall of famers. I'm sorry but I just dont agree that he had to lead the league in anything if other hall of famers didnt, either.

My point is that it just makes no sence whatsoever to me that there are these supposed limits that Hodges alone has to surpass, yet many who recieved the highest honors didnt surpass them themselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not trying to get in any argumentative war or anything, I hope you dont think that and I do respect your opinion. But that still dosent explain to me why a good 15 or so players whose collective statistics were either equal to or less than Hodges record can be elected, but he can't. If he shouldnt be elected, then Ray Shalk, Johnny Evers, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Tinker (must I go on?) shouldnt have been, either. Tell me how that makes any sence?

Comparing these guys is like comparing apples and oranges. For one, they play different positions. The guys you listed are middle infielders and catchers, which are historically weaker positions. Its going to take significantly stronger offensive numbers for a first basemen to get into the hall since it is historically a more offensive position. Second, you are comparing different eras. Most of the guys you listed are from the deadball era. The game changed significantly when Babe Ruth came in. Again weaker offenses, so lesser numbers mean more.

Now Phil Rizzuto you may have an argument for. I believe many see him as the weakest/most questionable hall of famer. I'm guessing the New York media had alot to do with his induction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not trying to get in any argumentative war or anything, I hope you dont think that and I do respect your opinion. But that still dosent explain to me why a good 15 or so players whose collective statistics were either equal to or less than Hodges record can be elected, but he can't. If he shouldnt be elected, then Ray Shalk, Johnny Evers, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Tinker (must I go on?) shouldnt have been, either. Tell me how that makes any sence?

Comparing these guys is like comparing apples and oranges. For one, they play different positions. The guys you listed are middle infielders and catchers, which are historically weaker positions. Its going to take significantly stronger offensive numbers for a first basemen to get into the hall since it is historically a more offensive position. Second, you are comparing different eras. Most of the guys you listed are from the deadball era. The game changed significantly when Babe Ruth came in. Again weaker offenses, so lesser numbers mean more.

Now Phil Rizzuto you may have an argument for. I believe many see him as the weakest/most questionable hall of famer. I'm guessing the New York media had alot to do with his induction.

I stated this before that I dont think an argument that some of these players played in the deadball era is necessarily valid.

Cap Anson, Sam Crawford, Hugh Duffy, Ty Cobb, Roger Connor, and Nap Lajoie.

Want to know what these names have anything to do with this argument? Well these are just a HANDFUL of hall of famers who collected 2,000 or more or 2,500 or more hits during the deadball era. It couldve been done just fine. I'm sorry but I just cant accept that argument. I know that offense was lesser during that time period, but the statement that lesser numbers mean more I feel is untrue considering many players from that era were some of the better offensive players in baseball history.

I agree that catchers are a weaker position. But Shalk, seriously? I'll give it to him that he was a great defensive catcher, but really? A .253 average and 1,345 hits? I'm sorry but i'll be honest when I say he was offensively awful. Catcher or not.

And middle infielders arent all that weak. I think people make the positions weaker than they really are. Remember that such players as Rogers Hornsby, Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Nellie Fox, and Jackie Robinson were all middle infielders and enjoyed succesful offensive careers. And those are just a few of the many.

Yes, first baseman was a more offensive position. But here's some facts: Hodges led all first basemen during the decade of the 1950's in RBIs (1,001) AND home runs (310). His RBI total in the 1950's actually ranks FIRST OVERALL in the decade and his homer total ranks SECOND OVERALL to only teammate Duke Snider in the decade. So, you'd have to admit and come to the conclusion that Hodges was indeed the most offensively proficient first baseman of the 1950's, making him ONE OF the most offensively proficient first baseman of the modern era.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stated this before that I dont think an argument that some of these players played in the deadball era is necessarily valid.

Cap Anson, Sam Crawford, Hugh Duffy, Ty Cobb, Roger Connor, and Nap Lajoie.

Want to know what these names have anything to do with this argument? Well these are just a HANDFUL of hall of famers who collected 2,000 or more or 2,500 or more hits during the deadball era. It couldve been done just fine. I'm sorry but I just cant accept that argument. I know that offense was lesser during that time period, but the statement that lesser numbers mean more I feel is untrue considering many players from that era were some of the better offensive players in baseball history.

I agree that catchers are a weaker position. But Shalk, seriously? I'll give it to him that he was a great defensive catcher, but really? A .253 average and 1,345 hits? I'm sorry but i'll be honest when I say he was offensively awful. Catcher or not.

And middle infielders arent all that weak. I think people make the positions weaker than they really are. Remember that such players as Rogers Hornsby, Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Nellie Fox, and Jackie Robinson were all middle infielders and enjoyed succesful offensive careers. And those are just a few of the many.

Yes, first baseman was a more offensive position. But here's some facts: Hodges led all first basemen during the decade of the 1950's in RBIs (1,001) AND home runs (310). His RBI total in the 1950's actually ranks FIRST OVERALL in the decade and his homer total ranks SECOND OVERALL to only teammate Duke Snider in the decade. So, you'd have to admit and come to the conclusion that Hodges was indeed the most offensively proficient first baseman of the 1950's, making him ONE OF the most offensively proficient first baseman of the modern era.

If you're conceding that players in the deadball era were at a disadvantage, doesn't that become a knock on Hodges, since he got fewer hits in a more offensive era?

You won't accept any argument that goes against Hodges. You're too much of a Dodgers/Hodges fan to look at this objectively.

There's a reason why he didn't get voted in by the voters (despite being on the ballot what....15 years?), and hasn't gotten voted in by the Veteran's Committee. His stats simply aren't good enough, and those comparing these players with no personal bias feel the same way.

Not everyone gets to make it into the Hall of Fame. Players that some folks feel are deserving aren't going to get in. That's life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.