Gil Hodges, an integral member of the 1955 and 1959 Dodgers World Championship teams, will have his No. 14 retired by the Dodgers on Saturday, June 4, during pre-game ceremonies prior to the 7:10 p.m. game against the New York Mets.
Hodges, who was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, will be inducted into the shrine in Cooperstown, New York, on Sunday, July 24. He became the 61st Dodger to receive Hall of Fame recognition as either a player, manager, coach, scout, executive or broadcaster.
“When you mention all-time greats in Dodger history, Gil Hodges is among the finest to ever don Dodger blue,” said Dodger President and CEO, Stan Kasten. “We are thrilled that he will finally take his place in Cooperstown alongside the games greats and look forward to honoring him.”
Hodges’ No. 14 will take its place among those previously retired in left field on the club level — Pee Wee Reese (No. 1), Tommy Lasorda (No. 2), Duke Snider (No. 4), Jim Gilliam (No. 19), Don Sutton (No. 20), Walter Alston (No. 24), Sandy Koufax (No. 32), Roy Campanella (No. 39), Jackie Robinson (No. 42), Don Drysdale (No. 53) and announcers Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.
Over an 18-year Major League career, which included 16 with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1943, 47-61) and his final two with the New York Mets (1962-63), the right-handed hitting Hodges played in 2,071 games and compiled a .273 batting average, 370 home runs, 295 doubles, 49 triples, 1,921 hits, 1,274 RBI and 1,105 runs scored. He made seven consecutive All-Star Game appearances from 1949-55, all seasons in which he drove in more than 100 runs and became an eight-time All-Star in 1957.
Among other accolades, he earned three Gold Glove awards (1957-59).
Hodges can be found in several categories on the franchise’s all-time Top 10 lists, including second in homers (361) and RBI (1,254), third in total bases (3,357), extra-base hits (703) and walks (925), fourth in games played (2,006) and fifth in runs scored (1,088). He is the club’s career leader in games played at first base (1,851).
Hodges passed away on April 2, 1972, two days shy of his 48th birthday. He was about to enter his fifth season as manager of the New York Mets, having guided the 1969 Miracle Mets to a World Series crown.
With the Dodgers, Hodges had several tastes of postseason play. In addition to the 1955 world championship club, he played on five other pennant winners (1947, ‘49, ’52. ’53 and ’56) while part of the famed “Boys of Summer” Brooklyn teams. Hodges then followed the team to the West Coast and earned a second World Series ring in 1959.
In the 1959 Fall Classic against the Chicago White Sox, he hit .391 (9-for-23) and slugged an eighth-inning tie-breaking homer in Game 4 that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 win and 3-1 series lead. He batted .304 and knocked in eight runs in the 1956 World Series and hit .364 in the 1953 Series. When the Dodgers topped the Yankees for their inaugural title in 1955, Hodges drove in the game’s only two runs in the decisive Game 7.
Hodges is the eighth member of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers to earn a ticket to Cooperstown as he joins Alston, Campanella, Koufax, Lasorda, Reese, Robinson and Snider.
Hodges hit 22 or more homers for 11 consecutive campaigns (1949-59), including highs of 42 in 1954 and 40 in 1951, ranking second in the National League each season. He belted 32 homers three times (1950, ’52 and ’56) and had 31 in 1953. The 42 homers set a Brooklyn single-season mark for a right-handed hitter and that same season, he collected a career-high 130 RBI. He topped the NL in sacrifice flies in 1954 (19) and 1955 (10).
On August 31, 1950, in a game against the Boston Braves, Hodges became only the sixth player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game. In that contest, he went 5-for-6 and knocked in nine runs, a franchise single-game RBI record that has since been matched only by James Loney on September 28, 2006, at Colorado.
But as noteworthy as his offensive efforts were, he drew just as many raves for his defense. Converted from catcher in 1948, he quickly established himself as one of the game’s top defensive performers. When Gold Glove awards were handed out for the first time in 1957, Hodges was a recipient, as he was each of the following two campaigns. He finished his career with a .992 fielding percentage at first base.
A native of Princeton, Indiana, Hodges signed with the Dodgers in 1943 and played one big-league game (at third base) that season before joining the United States Marine Corps and serving in World II. He returned to the Dodgers organization for the 1946 season, playing 129 games for Newport News and leading Piedmont League catchers in putouts, assists and fielding percentage. The following season, he rejoined the Major League club for good, staying with the Dodgers through the 1961 season before he was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft.
On April 11, 1962, in the inaugural game in Mets’ history, Hodges slugged the franchise’s first-ever home run. The Washington Senators acquired Hodges from the Mets on May 23, 1963, so they could name him as their field manager. Hodges piloted the Senators through the 1967 season, before they traded him back to the Mets on Nov. 27, 1967, allowing him to take over the managerial reins of the New York club.
Hodges is survived by his wife, Joan, son Gil Jr., and daughters Irene and Cynthia. Gil Jr. and Irene will participate in the Dodger Stadium ceremony.
(Most information in this post was furnished by the Los Angeles Dodgers Media Group)