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Gil Hodges Jr. throws out first pitch, then makes Hall pitch for his late father

He believes the manager of the champion '69 Mets should be in the Hall of Fame for his playing career alone. 

Gil Hodges Jr., son of former New York

Gil Hodges Jr., son of former New York Mets manager Gil Hodges, throws out the first pitch before the Mets' home opener against the Nationals on April 4, 2019. Credit: AP/Bill Kostroun

Gil Hodges, Hall of Fame 2020.

That is the fervent hope of the Mets and the family of the manager who led the team to the 1969 world championship.

But Gil Hodges Jr. believes it is his late father’s statistics in a 16-year career with the Dodgers that should earn him enshrinement in Cooperstown when the Golden Days Committee convenes.

Hodges was on the writers' ballot for the Hall of Fame for 15 years and in 1983 came within 12 percentage points of the required 75 percent. He has been considered by various veterans’ committees since 1987 and reportedly came within one vote in 1993.

“I don't think his longevity as a manager was actually enough to be considered into the Hall of Fame,’’ Hodges Jr. said Thursday at Citi Field after throwing the first pitch to ‘69 Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool on what would have been Gil Hodges' 95th birthday,

“He had one magnificent year,’’ as a manager, ‘’ his son said. “It doesn't hurt, but it causes confusion because you're looking at different aspects. He should not go in as a manager at who created a miracle, but his own ability as a baseball player.

“I think the longevity of a managerial position is something based all on its own. It was an unbelievable year, but it's one year. I think if you look at the Golden Era period, when they've broken down the 25 years spans, I think he stands right up there with anyone statistically. I think as a ballplayer, that's what he would deserve, not as a manager. He didn't manage long enough.’’

Hodges was 660-753 in a nine-year managerial career, five with the Senators and four with the Mets before his death on April 2, 1972. Hodges’ managerial tenure would be considered part of his resume with the Hall of Fame committee, according to an official with the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Hodges Jr. said he would never lobby the selection committee. “I never have. I don't feel that that’s my place," he said. "I feel that if the statistics don't stand on their own and the committee doesn't think that merits it, then so be it. I think he deserves to be in and that’s basically it.’’

Hodges hit .273 with 370 home runs in 16 seasons. But he was the most dominant defensive player of his time, compiling a .992 fielding percentage.

Kranepool said he is amazed his former manager is not in the Hall. “I am because I played for him and I saw him play growing up. Gil was an icon in the National League," he said. "He was a great fielder at first base. He taught me everything i knew about playing first base. I had no idea of the fundamentals of the game. Gil was a stickler on that. He worked with me and I became a pretty good first baseman. I would up with a .994 fielding average so I was catching something at first base.’’

Hodges Jr. said he is hopeful his dad makes it this time so Joan Hodges, the manager’s 92 year-old widow, can fulfill her longtime wish. “He's in my Hall of Fame,’’ Hodges Jr. said. “ I would want this to happen for my mom more than anything else on this earth. Just for her to see it. She's done a lot to keep his name out there.’’

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