You are currently viewing Gil Hodges: Revered and Respected 

Gil Hodges: Revered and Respected 

If Gil Hodges were still alive today, he would be 100 years of age. Sadly he passed way too soon, at only 47, on Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972. He never lived to see his number, 14, retired by both the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. Or to attend his own enshrinement in baseball’s Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Gil Hodges was a power hitter on those great Brooklyn Dodgers “Boys of Summer” teams following World War II. He was also a great defensive player at first base, winning three gold gloves. He would have won many more, but the award was not created until 1957.

Everyone conceded Hodges was the strongest player in baseball. On August 31, 1950 he hit four home runs in one game. In the history of Major League Baseball, only 17 other players have ever done that. Those four home runs were sent soaring off of four different pitchers.

He played on eight All-Star teams. His competition every year was Stan Musial.

Revered and respected by opponents and teammates alike, in 1969 he managed New York’s “Miracle Mets” in their surprising World Series triumph. As a player he participated in many World Series with the Dodgers, finally winning in 1955 for Brooklyn and 1959 for Los Angeles.

He played 18 years in the major leagues, despite losing several seasons during World War II when he served in the Marine Corps as an anti-aircraft gunner, receiving a Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” indicating heroism under fire during such famous battles as the one at Okinawa. Under heavy enemy fire, Gil was part of the team which stormed the beaches in that famous combat zone.

Testimonials from his teammates:

Carl Erskine: “I always felt a special bond with Gil Hodges because we were both from Indiana. He was the biggest and strongest man of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now that’s a powerful statement considering that Carl Furillo, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, and Roy Campanella were all big men. Gil was also the quietest man on the team — soft-spoken and more often not spoken. As rowdy as our bench was, I never heard Gil yell an obscenity or even a mild barb at an opponent.”

Johnny Podres: “I never met a finer man.”

Pee Wee Reese: “They tried Gil at all eight positions. He could have played them all. Now, Gil wears a glove at first base because it’s fashionable. With those hands he really doesn’t need one.”

Clem Labine: “Not getting booed at Ebbets Field was an amazing thing. Those fans knew their baseball, and Gil was the only player I can remember whom the fans never, and I mean never, booed.”

Don Newcombe: “I had so much respect for that man (Gil Hodges), there are simply no words for it. But he could hit, he could field, he was a leader, and he was a smart, smart player.”

Jackie Robinson: “Gil Hodges was the core of the Brooklyn Dodgers.”

Don Drysdale: “From the first day I shook hands with him in the parking lot for Dodgertown in 1955 until the end, he was one of the most important people in my life. He was probably the greatest thing that ever happened to me in baseball.”

Duke Snider: “Gil was a great player, but an even greater man.”

Hall of Fame pitcher, Tom Seaver, did not play with Hodges, but he played for him, and said, “Gil Hodges was the most important person in my career. Above all, he taught me how to be a professional.”

Gil Hodges — a man’s man, a great baseball man, and a role model for all of us.