When Gil Hodges’ family got the news that their husband and father finally got inducted into the Hall of Fame, what was their reaction?
“When I received the phone call and I heard I’m very happy to tell you, I was hysterical. I cried terribly because I honestly couldn’t believe it was happening,” said Hodges’ daughter, Irene, during a news conference to congratulate the family on the late induction of the former Met and Dodger.
Irene was with her mother, Joan, who the entire family was happy to see her hear the news herself at 95 years old.
“I gave my mother the phone – I haven’t even told my mother about the voting because I didn’t want her to be disappointed and I didn’t want her to think about it,” Irene explained.
“She put her hand on her chest and said ‘Really? He really did it? Oh Gil, I’m so happy.’”
It’s truly been a long time coming for Hodges’ family and those that were a part of his illustrious baseball career, like Art Shamsky who played under Hodges on the 1969 World Series-champion Mets.
“I’m so happy for the Hodges family,” he said. “I spoke to mom this morning and I was just so happy to congratulate her. This has been a long time coming. Gil I think was up for induction what? 35 times with either the normal process or with the committees and certainly in my mind had the credentials as a player and topping that off with being a manager of the ’69 Mets. The criteria was there and I certainly believe he should’ve been in a long time ago. But it doesn’t make a difference. He’s in now and I think all of us who are part of that ’69 Met team – I don’t want to speak for anybody – but we all think we were happy to have been part of that part of his life.”
Hodges not only fit the criteria as a player – he won two World Series with the Dodgers in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles while collecting eight All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves at first base during his 18-year journey as a player – but as a manager as well. Unfortunately, those managerial years were cut short after his suffered a sudden heart attack while golfing in 1972. He was only 47.
His character on and off the field spoke for itself as well. Just ask Ed Kranepool, who took over at first base for Hodges with the Mets and gives him credit for being able to play there for years to come.
“I was very fortunate to play with Gil,” Kranepool said. “I’m probably one of the last players that’s still around that played with him in 1962. He meant a lot to me in my career for the simple reason that he was willing to give up himself. That’s the type of person he was. He taught me how to play first base even though I was going to take over the position that he had with the Mets. He taught me how to play the game, the right way to play. Later on in my career, I ended up playing for him.”
Gil Hodges Jr. reminisced about being able to travel with him since he was the only boy, and said that the Hall of Fame was never a topic of conversation. But Irene once asked the question.
“I think he would’ve been shocked. I could remember once, ‘So Dad, you think you’ll be in the Hall of Fame?’ He said, ‘No, not me.’ But he underestimated himself and how good he was,” she said.
But finally, it’s happened and Hodges’ legacy within MLB will live on forever in Cooperstown.
“As a family, my sister Irene, my sister Cindy, my mom, we’ve all waited a long time and we’re just grateful and thankful it’s finally come to fruition,” Hodges Jr. said.