Category Archives: Gil Hodges

One more chance for Gil Hodges to make the Hall of Fame

gil hodges
Gil Hodges

Later this month, a special committee will be voting on baseball’s “Golden Age” Hall of Fame nominees. These are players primarily from the 1960s and earlier (though a few played into the 70s). At the top of that list is yet again Gil Hodges.

I’m part of a Facebook group of very dedicated people working hard behind the scenes to help get Hodges finally into the Hall of Fame (I mostly just read and learn). Why he isn’t is in the Hall of Fame is beyond me, there are a few flaws in his overall statistics, but honestly, they’re minor, and his numbers stack up pretty well with a LOT of players who are in the Hall of Fame. Frankly, his numbers are pretty comparable to his teammate Duke Snider’s, who made the Hall of Fame 34 years ago.

The only reason I can think of is Hodges died quite a while ago, in 1972, a relatively young man at 47. At the time, he was a fairly successful manager. I believe if he had lived longer and had been in the public spotlight longer, he might have been in the Hall of Fame by now. Unfortunately, “out of sight, out of mind,” likely hurt him with a lot of voters over the years. It’s such a huge oversight that he isn’t in the HofF.

One thing hurting Hodges in the Golden Age Committee vote is there are some extremely strong candidates in the 2014 nominees (the committee now only votes every three years, so if Hodges doesn’t make it, his family will have to wait until 2017.). The vote is taking place later this year.

(As an aside, I noticed there seem to be a LOT of Chicago White Sox on this list. I think White Sox players tend to get overlooked because the Cubs get more attention.)

Here’s some of the biggest names being considered, including a couple of Steve Lardy’s Minnesota Twins boys! I use sort of a guide as “HofF worthy years,” “Good years, but not HofF,” and “Injured/bench player/poor years”. One thing most of these players had in common was relatively short careers that ended in their mid-30s, which is why they have trouble getting in the Hall of Fame.  It’s totally subjective, but I just use it as a point of discussion, nothing more:

Gilbert Raymond Hodges, Brooklyn Dodgers Gil Hodges

HofF worthy years: 7

Good years, not HofF: 4 (tough one, because of a couple of these years were actually pretty good — .254, 32, 102 and .265, 32, 87 — and could easily go in the HofF category, but I’m trying to be tough)

Injured/bench player/poor years: 7


  • 8-time All-Star
  • 370 HRs, 10th all-time at the time of his retirement
  • 370 HRs, No. 1 for right-handed home runs all-time at the time of his retirement. Yup, No. 1.
  • 30 or more HRs, 6 times
  • 100 or more RBIs, 7 straight years
  • 80 or more RBIs, 10 times
  • 20 or more HRs, 11 times
  • Was a big part of a team that won 7 pennants and two World Series titles
  • 3 Gold Gloves
  • And this helps, too … managed a World Series winning team in 1969 with the New York Mets.
  • Hodges even walked a lot (he had seven seasons of 70 or more walks, I see him as a prototype of the high walk/high strikeout power hitters that are the rage today), to make up for an OK batting average. His career OPS was .846 (higher than HofF’ers Carl Yazstremski, Reggie Jackson, Kirby Puckett, Roberto Clemente, Eddie Murray and several others.)


  • Never won an MVP, never even in the top 6
  • The only other weakness I can find is his career batting average was just .273, and he only ever hit over .300 twice. However, he did hit over .280 six times and his career OBP was a solid .359 — hey, that’s the same as Ichiro’s OBP! Keep in mind Harmon Killebrew is in the HofF with a batting average of .256 and Reggie Jackson with .262, Cal Ripken Jr. with .276 and Andre Dawson with .279.

Other very good candidates

Tony Oliva (A Steve Lardy boy!)

Tony Oliva

HofF worthy years: 6

Good, not HofF worthy: 4

Poor years/bench/injured: 4


  • Won three batting titles
  • 8-time All-Star
  • Hit over .300 6 times
  • .304 career average
  • Twice finished second in MVP vote
  • Rookie of the Year winner
  • Led AL in hits five times
  • Led AL in doubles four times
  • 20 or more HRs five times
  • 80 or more RBIs eight times


  • Only two seasons with over 100 RBIs
  • Only one Gold Glove award
  • Only seven seasons with more than 500 at-bats

Oliva had a very short career, only had 6,300 at-bats (the equivalent of 11 full seasons), and he played in fewer than 1,700 games. He didn’t become a full-time player until he was 25 and was done by the time he was 36. This has likely kept him out of the Hall of Fame; he simply didn’t compile a lot of numbers. Oliva got hurt a lot — he only had seven seasons in which he played more than 132 games. You can see why Tony Oliva is in a grey area for the Hall of Fame. A brilliant, yet short, career. Playing in Minnesota likely didn’t help him, either with the lack of publicity.

Jim Kaat

 Jim Kaat (Another Lardy boy)

Jim Kaat actually got the most votes during the Golden Era Committee’s last vote in 2011 for someone who didn’t make the Hall of Fame. Only Ron Santo garnered enough votes to get in.

HofF worthy years: 6

Good, but not HofF-worthy: 6

Poor years/injured: 13


  • 15 Gold Gloves
  • Won 283 games
  • Won 20 games three times
  • 14 or more wins 11 times
  • 25th all-time in innings pitched (4,500, the equivalent of 250 innings a year for 18 years)
  • Led the AL in wins in 1966 (25)


  • Had 13 bad and/or injured seasons or was coming out of the bullpen
  • Only made 3 All-Star teams
  • Never won a Cy Young (his best year, there was only one award, and that went to Koufax, other than that, never seriously a Cy Young candidate)
  • Career ERA of 3.45 in pitching-heavy era is just OK.

Jim Kaat, another of Steve Lardy’s boys from Minnesota, is what’s known as a “compiler,” the opposite of Tony Oliva, guys that aren’t necessarily considered elite players of their era, but they avoided a lot of injuries and played a long time. Kaat was a horse who started 625 games and completed 180. Kaat pitched into his early 40s, though his last really good year was at the age of 36. He had some poor seasons (9-17, 13-14, 12-14 and 6-11).

My feeling is many of Kaat’s statistics are comparable to Burt Blyleven’s (other than strikeouts). Blyleven only was an All-Star twice, only won more than 17 games twice, but made the HofF with 287 wins by sticking around forever, pitching a ton of games and innings and compiling a lot of stats in the process. Blyleven’s election to the HofF will make it easier for guys like Kaat, Tommy John and Jack Morris to get in. Guys who were good for a long time without necessarily being elite. Kaat’s amazing 15 Gold Gloves helps him, too.

Minnie Minoso
Minnie Miñoso

Minnie Miñoso

HofF-worthy years: 8

Good, not HofF-worthy: 3

Poor years/injured/bench: 4


  • .298 career hitter
  • Hit over .300 8 times
  • 7-time All-Star
  • Led league in stolen bases three times
  • Four times in the top 4 in MVP vote
  • Finished second as Rookie of the Year
  • Won three Gold Gloves
  • Good power/speed combo numbers: 10 times 10 or more HRs, 9 times 10 or more steals, 7 times 80 or more RBIs, 11 times 89 or more runs scored
  • Led AL in triples three times


  • Like Oliva, a very short career, only 6,579 ABs in his career. Wasn’t a full-time player until he was 25 and was done as a full-time player at 35.
  • For a speed guy, actually had a poor percentage of successful steals — barely 60 percent

I have to be honest. I never heard of Minnie Miñoso until recently, but in looking up his stats, they were very solid. Very similar to Oliva’s. (And they are both Cuban, too) More speed numbers, not quite as much power, but close.

Miñoso is definitely a solid candidate. A guy with decent power, drove in runs, scored runs and hit for average. He simply didn’t have a long enough career to compile numbers, which is why he has waited so long to get in the HofF. That and he played a lot of his career in Cleveland and for the White Sox.

Luis Tiant
Luis Tiant

Luis Tiant (A Pepe guy)

Pepe’s favourite player when he was a kid.

HofF-worthy years: 6

Good, not HofF-worthy: 5

Poor years/injured/bullpen: 8


  • Won 20 games four times
  • Twice led the AL in ERA, including an incredible 1.60 one season
  • 3.30 career ERA is solid
  • 187 complete games and 49 shutouts (21st all-time)


  • Only made 3 All-Star teams
  • Only won 15 or more games 6 times in 19-year career
  • Had some bad seasons (9-20, 1-7, 8-9, 11-11)
  • Never won a Cy Young, never finished higher than fourth in voting

Tiant is another borderline guy. He had a few really brilliant seasons, but had a number of mediocre or bad years, too, which is why he is a fringe Hall-of-Famer. His career reminds me a bit of Curt Schilling’s, only Schilling has a postseason resume Tiant wasn’t able to compile.

Dick Allen

Dick Allen

HofF-worthy years: 8

Good, not HofF-worthy: 3

Poor years/bench/injured: 4


  • Solid .292 batting average
  • Hit over .300 7 times
  • Career OPS of .912 (Still 53rd all time despite all the inflated OPS’s of the Steroid Era, ahead of Mike Schmidt, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew and many other Hall of Fame sluggers)
  • MVP award
  • Rookie of the Year award
  • 7-time All-Star
  • 1 HR title; 1RBI title
  • 30 or more home runs 6 times
  • 20 or more home runs 10 times
  • 351 HRs; 25th all-time at the time of his retirement


  • Only 6,330 ABs, only played in 1,750 games. His last full-time season was at the age of 30 and he was out of baseball by the time he was 35. He only had 1,597 ABs after the age of 31.
  • Only had five seasons in which he played more than 128 games
  • Played for five teams

Very much like Oliva and Miñoso, one of the reasons Dick Allen isn’t in the Hall is his relatively short career (and the fact that he was controversial and was embroiled in a lot of conflicts with teams he played for). He had some astonishing power numbers in the middle of his career (40 HRs in 524 ABs in 1966, 32 HRs in 438 ABs in 1969, 34 HRs in 459 ABs in 1970, , 37 HRs in 506 ABs in 1972, 32 HRs in 462 ABs in 1974). Those are some amazing numbers.







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.