Longtime Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, New York, the culmination of over five decades on the ballot.
Hodges played 16 of his 18 seasons with the Dodgers, including the club’s first four seasons in Los Angeles. He managed the Washington Senators for parts of five seasons before managing the Mets, leading New York to its first championship in 1969, in the franchise’s eighth season of existence, after averaging 105 losses over their first seven years.
Ron Swoboda was on that 1969 Mets team, and was in attendance in Cooperstown this weekend to support Hodges, along with fellow former Mets Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepool, and Art Shamsky, plus family members of Tom Seaver and Tommie Agee. Swoboda narrated this intro for MLB Network.
"Because of his innate dignity, he appealed to people. Hodges brought that character to everything he did as a baseball player and later on as a baseball manager."— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 24, 2022
- Ron Swoboda on Gil Hodges pic.twitter.com/42EMz57fv6
Hodges died in April 1972, during spring training when he was managing the Mets, making this a posthumous honor. His daughter Irene Hodges gave an emotional speech on behalf of her father.
Some highlights from Irene Hodges’ speech
On Hodges’ friendship with Jackie Robinson:
“During a game, Jackie was being heckled by the opposing dugout, non-stop. At one point, my dad had had enough of that. He put down his glove, he went to the top step of the dugout and said, ‘If anyone else has anything to say, let them come out here right now, and we will settle it.’ Needless to say, nobody came out, and no one said another word.”
On Brooklyn’s relationship with Hodges:
“When my father slumped in the 1952 World Series, Brooklyn fans loved him. Who goes 0-for-21 and gets a standing ovation every time at-bat? That’s exactly what happened to my dad. The Brooklyn fans loved my father, and they loved their team. When the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series, it was one of the greatest days that Brooklyn had ever known.”
A classic story of Hodges, the manager:
“My father already had a reputation for being stern manager with the Washington Senators. He was very strict on bed check on road trips. When he found out four of his players had skipped bed check, he held a team meeting the next day in the clubhouse. Never one to embarrass anyone, he told them he was aware that some of the players had skipped bed check, and there was a cigar box on his desk. At the end of the day, he wanted $100 from those players. At the end of the day, there was $700 in that box.”
Gil Hodges’ wife Joan, 95 years old, watched Sunday’s ceremony from her home in Brooklyn:
“Today, I am especially happy for my mother. When the call came from the Hall of Fame, and I heard, ‘This is Jane Forbes Clark, and it is my honor...,’ I began sobbing probably as much as I did when I lost my father. I was so beyond happy for him, and even thrilled that my mom at 95 would be able to hear this news.”