The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Boy, am I glad Gil Hodges finally got elected to the Hall of Fame

Gil Hodges was a very productive player. He was an integral part of Dodger teams from 1948 to 1959 that were probably the best in baseball during that era, except for the New York Yankees. For many years, he’s been overlooked for the Baseball Hall of Fame, at first during his 15 years of eligibility on the ballot and 19 times by the Hall’s veteran committees. I’m glad Hodges finally got in, but probably for a different reason than most of his devoted fans.


Hodges was voted into the Hall last week by the Golden Days Era (1950-1969) committee (one of the new names for what used to be called the veterans committee), along with Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, and Minnie Minoso. Negro Leaguers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler were also voted in by the Early Baseball Era (pre-1950) committee


For a long time now, he’s been the subject of numerous campaigns to get him elected, supported by countless arguments articulated in sports columns, talk shows, and websites making the case for his election. Since he fell off the ballot after his 15 years, he’s drawn more support than probably any other Hall of Fame candidate considered by the veterans committee. In fact, we’ve been worn out by all the passionate conversations about his not having been already elected. Personally, I got tired of hearing the whining each time he failed to get elected.


I believe Hodges has benefitted from being part of the Dodgers “system,” that featured extraordinary consistency of the players on the roster during 1948-1959. The players included Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale. Other key players, who were part of those Dodgers teams that won six pennants and two World Series during this timeframe, were Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Junior Gilliam, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, and Carl Furillo.


Although Hodges received votes for National League MVP in eight seasons, he was never the top vote-getter.  His highest finish was seventh place. He was rarely the most valuable player on his own team, only exceeding his teammates in 1950 and 1957 for total vote points.


By modern metrics, during his prime years (1948-1959), his OPS+ was 127. For his entire career, it was 120. His career WAR was 43.9, only better than 15% of Hall of Famers. His black ink was only better than 10% of HOFers. (According to Baseball Reference website, “black print” is a measure of how often a player has led the league in "important" statistical categories. It is named as such because league-leading numbers are traditionally represented with boldface type on Baseball-Reference.com.) Hodges never led the National League in any of the significant batting categories. First basemen Dick Allen (157), Fred McGriff (134), Will Clark (137), and Don Mattingly (127) have career OPS+ numbers higher than Hodges, and they aren’t in the Hall either.


Hodges supporters have argued his major-league managerial career should also add to his Hall worthiness. His main contribution in that role was winning the 1969 World Series with the “Miracle” Mets. It was indeed a great accomplishment, but his won-loss percentage is .467 during his entire nine seasons with the Mets and Washington Senators.


I’ve told you all the reasons why I don’t consider Hodges more Hall-worthy. Here’s the other side.


Hodges was an eight-time National League all-star. He was exceeded only by Duke Snider for most home runs by Dodgers during 1949-1959. He hit 370 homers during his career. Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci maintains Hodges was “best of his era” for first basemen, because he recorded more hits, runs, homers, and RBIs than any active first basemen during 1948-1959. He was a Gold Glove winner three times.


Verducci also points out that Hodges received enough votes by the veterans committee in 1993, only to be disallowed because one of the voters was his former teammate Roy Campanella, who did not attend the meeting when the votes were taken.


Hodges has had a halo surrounding him since his playing days. From all accounts, he was a genuinely good guy. He was under-appreciated because he just went about his business every day, never one to create a lot of fanfare for himself. Plus, he didn’t have a catchy name like “Pee Wee” or “Duke.”


His election last week finally brings closure for his family and his many ardent supporters. That’s a good thing. I suppose we can finally put behind us all those hearty endorsements for his election. That’s a good thing, too.

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