Gil Hodges ad promoting cigarettes — Gil Hodges died of heart attack at 47

Gil Hodges

My old Oregon friend Bill posted this on a Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame page.

As I posted a few weeks ago, a lot of baseball players endorsed cigarettes. I found literally dozens of ads of baseball players endorsing either chew or cigarettes — and a hell of lot of them died young of cancer.

Gil Hodges was only 47 when he died in 1972. He literally keeled over dead from a massive heart attack while golfing. He was also a chain smoker. I’ve often wondered if he would have long ago been in the Hall of Fame had he lived and continued to manage and had his face and profile out there. He was 10th all time in home runs when he retired, an integral part of a number of Dodger champion teams, and arguably the best first baseman in the National League during the 1950s. On top of that, he managed a World Series-winning team with the Mets in 1969. But, he was quickly forgotten when he died. He was good, but wasn’t quite as good as Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron and a few others. Still, when you see guys like Tony Perez, Ron Santo and Orlando Cepeda in the Hall of Fame, it’s really hard to believe Hodges can’t get in. (And my point stands that one of the reasons Santo got in was he had a high-profile job for many years as an announcer.).

Hopefully, that will be cured soon. Gil Hodges is on a short list of serious contenders for the Hall of Fame from the Veterans Committee. He is such an obvious oversight.

Anyway, I always cringe at the irony of stars endorsing cigarette products — stars who later died  of cancer such as Humphrey Bogart or John Wayne. Or in the case of Gil Hodges, heart disease.

2 thoughts on “Gil Hodges ad promoting cigarettes — Gil Hodges died of heart attack at 47”

  1. Gil told Roger Kahn in “The Boys of Summer” that he started smoking “to have something to do in the foxholes on Iwo Jima”.

    1. Hi, Steve, yeah, as someone whose dad died of lung cancer told me about her dad starting up during WW II, “hey, they all expected they were going to die anyway, so who cares about what smoking is doing to you?”

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