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Belated Induction

Congratulations to Gil Hodges, the newest member of the Mets Walk-Offs Hall of Fame

I realize this is of little consolation to his widow, Joan, and to those who are great supporters of his candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I think the timing is right.

Hodges got shafted again in the latest Veterans Committee vote, and it seems unlikely that he'll ever get in under the current system, which awards every living Hall of Famer a vote, requiring 75 percent of votes to get inducted.

The problem is that Hodges' supporters are old men, like Duke Snider, Yogi Berra and Tom Seaver (yes, he qualifies as old). They don't release each players Hall of Fame ballot, but I'd bet that almost every vote for Hodges came from someone who either played with, for, or against him. And those guys are dying quicker than they're getting elected.

Let's be realistic. Unless they have a finer appreciation for the game than I'm giving them credit for, the likes of Rich Gossage, Ryne Sandberg, Dennis Eckersley, Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield, Bruce Sutter, and company, are much more likely to vote for their contemporaries, and that makes sense. Do you think Rickey Henderson is going to be a big Hodges supporter upon induction? Come on.

The Hall changed its system this year, breaking players down by era, essentially pre-WW II and post WW II because the "pre" selections basically had no shot. Good idea to draw the line. It got Joe Gordon his proper due. But there's a better place to draw it to find a spot for Hodges too.

Gil Hodges last games as a "good" player basically came 50 years ago. He hit .391 with a home run in the Dodgers' victory over the White Sox in the 1959 World Series. His playing career wasn't much after that, though he was afforded a curtain call for his fan base by returning to New York with the 1962 Mets, and hit the first home run in club history. The day that Hobie Landrith hit the first walk-off home run in Mets history, Hodges hit the second, in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Braves.

Look at the prime of Hodges' career, which stretches from 1949 to 1959. He hit 333 home runs, second-most in the majors to Duke Snider. His 1,116 RBI in that span were also second to Snider. Hodges .508 slugging percentage ranks 12th in that span, but the top 10 of those players are in the Hall of Fame, and the 11th is Rocky Colavito, so there's no shame in being at the bottom of that dozen. Oh, and let's not forget that the man managed the 1969 Mets, the team that all future Cinderellas shall be compared to for eternity.

Those credentials may not be enough to put Hodges into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but we're happy to add him to our class before this calendar year is out.


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