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Brooklyn’s Hodges Gets Another Look for Baseball Hall Vote

Jackie Robinson, Preacher Roe and Gil Hodges
Baseball players, from left, Jackie Robinson, Preacher Roe and Gil Hodges celebrate the Brooklyn Dodgers' World Series victory over the New York Yankees in October 1949. Photographer: Curt Gunther/FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Gil Hodges, who helped the Dodgers to seven National League pennants and managed the New York Mets to their first World Series title in 1969, gets another chance to reach the baseball Hall of Fame today.

If it were up to Marty Adler, a 74-year-old retired assistant principal from Brooklyn, he’d have been in long ago.

“I always think he has a chance,” Adler said in a telephone interview. “There’s a lot of things going for him.”

Hodges joins Allie Reynolds, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant as former players up for consideration for induction in the Cooperstown, New York, shrine by the 16 members of the Golden Era Committee. Buzzie Bavasi, the Dodgers’ general manager from 1951-67, and Charlie Finley, who owned the Athletics from 1960-80, are the executives on the ballot. Nominees must receive 75 percent of the vote to be inducted.

Hodges, who died in 1972 two days before his 48th birthday, was an eight-time All-Star first baseman who started with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and moved with the team to Los Angeles in 1958. He stayed with the Dodgers through 1961 before playing his final two seasons with the Mets, ending his career with 370 home runs, a .274 batting average and 1,274 runs batted in. He won three Gold Gloves for his fielding.

His wife, Joan, 85, still lives in Brooklyn, where an elementary school, a bridge and a street all are named for Hodges.

“He’s in my hall of fame forever, no matter what,” she said in a telephone interview.

1969 Miracle Mets

After retiring as a player, he managed the Washington Senators for five seasons, and then in two years transformed New York from a last-place team into the “Miracle Mets” who went 100-62 in 1969 and won the World Series.

Hodges fell short of Hall of Fame induction during his 15 years of post-career eligibility. He’s the only player no longer included in Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting to be selected on at least 60 percent of ballots -- he did that three times, including 63 percent in his final year of eligibility in 1983 -- and not subsequently get enshrined, Hall of Fame spokesman Craig Muder said in a telephone interview.

Fans and family have campaigned for decades for the enshrinement of Hodges. Adler, who founded the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, made up bumper stickers saying: “Cooperstown Needs Gil Hodges.”

The 16-member Golden Era Committee will announce its vote today at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Any candidate selected will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 22, 2012, along with any more recently retired players selected in January by the writers’ vote.

Golden Era Committee

The Golden Era Committee, which focuses on the period from 1947 to 1972, is one of three that replaced the Baseball Veterans panel and will be meeting for the first time. It will vote once every three years, rotating with two other committees devoted to specific eras.

Golden Era voters include Hall of Fame members Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, Don Sutton and Billy Williams, as well as executives such as Gene Michael of the Yankees.

Hodges was passed over for years by Baseball Veterans committees. He fell one vote short in 1993.

“He played for the great Dodgers teams of the late 40s and 50s,” Adler said. “He was one of the pillars that surrounded Jackie Robinson. And he was probably the best right-handed fielding first baseman I ever saw.”

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