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'Ron'dezvous With Destiny

Those that listened to Billy Wagner's press conference last week might have heard him reference former Mets catcher Ron Hodges with whom he discussed the city and the idea of playing baseball for the Flushing 9.

I remember Ron Hodges as over the hill, slow and on his last legs as a major league player when I first started following the team, but apparently others, like Wagner think rather highly of him. It probably has something to do with both being from Virginia. Hodges from Rocky Mount and that name has farm town written all over it.

If you're old enough, you probably remember Hodges because of the famous "Ball on the Wall" game from 1973, in which Hodges got the winning hit (a link to which can be found at: http://metswalkoffs.blogspot.com/2005/09/ball-on-wall-remembered.html), but that wasn't the only time that Hodges had a significant game-ending hit.

On September 20, 1975, the NL East race was close to decided and the Mets decided to stomp on the Phillies in much the same way that the Mets did to the Marlins at the end of the 2005 season. On a day in which Rusty Staub got five hits, the hero was Hodges, who had barely played in the bigs that season, spending much of it in Triple-A. Such was life getting such behind Jerry Grote, who started on this day too, but had to leave the game midway through when he got injured by an errant pickoff throw that hit him in the back.

Staub homered in the eighth, giving the Mets a 7-5 lead, but the Phillies tied the game in the ninth with two runs off Mets rookie pitcher Rick Baldwin. Ex-Met Tug McGraw shut New York down in the ninth and 10th inning, then ceded to Gene Garber after Bob Apodaca held the Phillies scoreless in the 10th and 11th.

Garber was the only Phillies pitcher to retire Staub but after getting the second out in the 11th, he allowed a hit to Ed Kranepool. This brought up Hodges, who was 3-for-19 for the season. Garber's first pitch ended up in the Mets bullpen in right field for a walk-off home run. The loss kept the Phillies six games back with nine to play. A few days later they were officially eliminated. So while Hodges didn't officially wreck the Phillies chances in the NL East, his contribution surely didn't hurt. Thirty years later, you could probably say the same thing.

True Metginias know...Others born in Virginia who got walk-off hits for the Mets include Billy Baldwin, Joe Hicks and Todd Hundley, with an honorable mention to World Series walk-off error-reacher J.C. Martin. We expect David Wright to join this list in the near-future.

Comments

metswalkoffs said…
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metswalkoffs said…
Someone previously had a comment here stating that there was a factual inaccuracy in this post (said that the Phillies were NL East champs in 1975). That comment was incorrect (I think the poster got 1975 confused with 1976), so I have since deleted the original post.

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