In 1972, “Gil Hodges”:http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/hodgegi01.shtml passed away at his home in Florida.
Does anybody remember Hodges from his playing days with the Dodgers? Or does anybody remember him from 1969?
I remember Gil from his days as a Mets manager: He turned around the team in no time at all.
He had a talented young staff: The only real vets were Don Cardwell and a few of the relievers (Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce, etc).
With Rube Walker, Gil instituted the 5 man rotation, and many of the young pitchers he had on that staff went on to have very long careers :Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, Mcgraw.
Hodges also did some heavy platooning: Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee were among the few who played day in day out. Agee was acquired at Hodges’ suggestion: He was the first player he asked for when he was hired. And that first year (68), Agee was a disaster: He hit about .218. But the next season he was outstanding.
Guys like Ken Boswell, Art Shamsky, Ron Swoboda, Al Weis, Ed Charles, Jerry Grote, Wayne Garrett, none of them great players, all contributed to the team effort. The Mets manufactured runs, came up with key hits and played solid smart fundamental baseball: They didn’t do it with speed or with power. It was about the best managed team I ever saw.
There have been four managers in Mets history who turned the team around: Hodges, Davey Johnson, Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph. I’d rank Hodges ahead of the others because the most with the least. But I think Willie might be a close second: Not because of his strategy, but because he has made the Mets a great team for players to be on. Johnson and Valentine were good managers, but their teams lacked the chemistry of Randolph’s team.
He was my father’s favorite Dodger, a “true gentleman” as he puts it. When Gil became a Met, my father finally had a reason to follow baseball again after the Dodgers moved to LA.
Much like John’s reply, Gil was my Dad’s favorite player and he/I started following the Mets mainly because of Gil being with them at the start. I played Little League on through some 20+ years of baseball and softball in my adult-hood, wearing number 14 because of Gil. I remember him playing for the Mets at the end of his career, managing the Senators, and of course, managing the Mets. I often wonder how his death at such a relatively young age, changed the course of the team; and how things would have been different had he lived. His quiet dignity, and the way he commanded respect without raising his voice, was amazing to watch. The fact that he is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame is a travesty.
I was at the Polo Grounds in 1962 when the Mets won their first doubleheader sweep, against the Milwaukee Braves. In the first game, against Warren Spahn, and trailing by a run with a runner on base in the bottom of the ninth, Casey Stengel sends up Joe Ginsberg, a left-handed pinch-hitter, who proceeds to tag Spahn for a two-run homer into the short right field stands. It was Ginsberg’s only homer that year.
In the second game, Gil Hodges won it with a home run in the bottom of the 10th off Hank Fischer.
How sweep it was!
I checked, and it was Hobie Landrith, not Joe Ginsberg, who hit the pinch homer for the first-game win. It was Landrith’s lone homer for the Mets. Attendance was 19,748 and Craig Anderson won both games in relief.
I didn’t realize he was such a good player.
In spring training 1969, Manager Hodges had a plan for his team: “Get it done in ‘71,” in other words be champs in three seasons. Amazin’.
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