(East Los Angeles, CA) June 2, 2022 [From The Editor’s Desk]: Once again, the Los Angeles Dodgers take time to honor another one of their all-time great player Legends of the 40s and the 50s, in #14, First-baseman, Gil Hodges.
I can clearly remember the Public Address announcer as he came up to bat in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, introducing him with, “Batting 4th and playing first-base, #14, Gil Hodges.” That was quickly followed by great salutes of approval from the thousands of fans that loved to see him play and hit his mammoth home runs to the deepest part of left-center in the Coliseum, while driving many of his teammates home to victory during any given season that he played for the team.
And, so much for my youthful memories of the Dodgers and Mr. Gil Hodges. Let’s now take a good read of the team’s announcement of this very special event that puts it all into the great and proper perspective that it will always merit.
DODGERS TO RETIRE GIL HODGES’ NUMBER 14
LOS ANGELES – Gil Hodges, an integral member of the 1955 and 1959 Dodgers World Championship teams, will have his number “14” retired by the Dodgers on Saturday, June 4thduring 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, NY 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 number “14” will take its place among those previously retired in left field on the club level—Pee Wee Reese (#1), Tommy Lasorda (#2), Duke Snider (#4), Jim Gilliam (#19), Don Sutton (#20), Walter Alston (#24), Sandy Koufax (#32), Roy Campanella (#39), Jackie Robinson (#42), Don Drysdale (#53) and announcers Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.
In 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 garnered three Gold Glove awards (1957-59).
On the Dodger franchise’s all-time Top 10 lists, Hodges can be found in several categories, 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 manager Walter Alston, catcher Roy Campanella, pitchers Sandy Koufax and Tommy Lasorda (inducted as a manager), shortstop Pee Wee Reese, second baseman Jackie Robinson and center fielder Duke 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, IN, 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.