14 DUPACR: Gil Hodges

With 14 Days Until Pitchers And Catchers Report, we honor #14 Gil Hodges.

This was easy, since only three people in Mets history ever wore #14 on their back — Hodges, Ron Swoboda (for one season) and Ken Boyer (for two seasons).

Unfortunately for me, I never knew/saw Hodges while he was alive, and can only comment on what I’ve read in books and seen of him in the old newsreels. From everything I’ve gathered, he was an incredible human being, tremendous leader, and highly intelligent, innovative baseball man. For example, I’m pretty sure he is the one responsible for instituting throwing programs and counting (not the same as limiting) pitches in the Mets organization — though I can’t find any hard evidence to corroborate (where was Al Gore and his interweb idea in the 1960s?). I’ve also read and heard from many sources that Hodges was beloved in Brooklyn, and never once booed there. And of course we can thank Hodges for protecting our country while he served in the USMC during World War II. Me, I accept him immediately for the fact he began his pro career as a catcher — moving to first base only because some guy named Campanella was a little better behind the dish. Oh, and then there is that part of his life where he guided the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to the World Championship. A favorite quote of mine was relayed by Bob Costas via Gil Hodges, Jr., in a PBS presentation of New York baseball, regarding the opening of the series. The gist of it is that Gil Jr. walked into his dad’s office, ran down a bunch of impressive statistics accumulated by Baltimore players, and asked how the heck the Mets had any chance at all to beat the Orioles, who many believed was among the greatest teams of all time. Gil’s response was, “I have a group of 25 men in that room who believe they can win this thing, and that’s all I need to know.”

Since I have no personal recollection of Gil Hodges, I hope some of you who do, can share your thoughts and memories of him in the comments.

Meantime, we have about two weeks before balls are tossed in Port St. Lucie.

The countdown thus far:

#14 Gil Hodges
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dan February 1, 2011 at 9:26 am
    1000% correct. Should be HOF if only for 1969, especially considering what he had to work with, and how he used, and motivated them.
    As a player he had 4 HR in a game, 14 grand slams, and several gold gloves. The Wikipedia article includes a pretty good summary of his career.


  2. NormE February 1, 2011 at 10:17 am
    My memories of Gil Hodges are all positive.
    As a player he was the best defensive first baseman of his time. He had big, soft hands and his foot movement around the bag belied his size. At the plate he was a reliable flyball
    hitter with good power.
    As a manager he was a no nonsense leader who was respected by his players and the umpires.
    He’s in my personal Hall of Fame.
  3. Mark February 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm
    Like you I never saw him play Joe, but like other players from his era you only wonder how much better the numbers and career would be without the service time. From players today that would be unheard of.
  4. Metstheory22 February 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm
    Should be in HOF and why I wear #14.

    #26 on your list could have been his Son-in-law Mike Bruhert. He played for the Mets in 78 and was traded to Texas for Dock Ellis.

  5. robert lesser February 16, 2011 at 2:40 am
    Gil definitely should be in the Hall. He stats are just as good as Ralph Kiner’s. Same # of HRS and About the same lifetime batting average ( 270’s) . I don’t get it . Please help me understand why this great gentleman (and that’s what he was by all accounts, never tossed from a game) is not a member of the Hall.
    Please note that I mean no disrepect to Ralph, he is still my favorite met announcer and was a great ball player. He deserves to be in the Hall as does Gil!