1. Gil Hodges
The case for Brooklyn Dodgers star Gil Hodges is an emotional one by now.
Sure, the desire to see Gil Hodges join Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella in the Hall of Fame is mostly rooted in our desire to celebrate the iconic figures in baseball’s rich history. But what’s so wrong with that?
Can you tell the story of baseball in the 1950s and 1960s without mentioning Gil Hodges? No. And why would you want to?
Hodges pounded a remarkable 370 home runs between 1947-1963, the vast majority of them (344) coming between ’48 and ’59. Blessed with a 297-foot right field wall at Ebbets Field, Hodges still navigated it better than almost anyone else in his era, emerging as a face of the franchise’s iconic Dem Bums 1955 World Series championship.
The widow Hodges, Joan Lombardi, is still alive and advocating for her husband to this day, whose career has become associated with the New York Mets thanks to his managerial efforts in the 1969 season, as well as his tragic death. For some inexplicable reason, the man has been eternally bypassed, including missing election in 1993 by one reported vote.
Hodges was (whew, here we go) a better player than Phil Rizzuto, who was enshrined the very next year for mostly sentimental reasons. Why can’t we do the same for Hodges now, especially when his counting numbers are vastly superior?
His comparables do him no favors (Rocky Colavito, Norm Cash, Mark Teixeira, George Foster), a laundry list of Hall of Very Good members. But nobody on that list had the managerial success Hodges did, and everyone on that list was afforded the opportunity to fervently argue their own case. Not Hodges, and it’s an annual shame.