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Gil Hodges fans take another punch to the gut

Item_25614_1As the year wound down, Gil Hodges fans had hoped ‘14 would be the year No. 14 got into the Hall of Fame via the Golden Era Committee. It didn’t happen . . . again. The 16-member committee, in fact, couldn’t agree enough on any of the nine candidates. The closest any candidate got to the magic 75 percent of votes were Tony Oliva and Richie Allen with 68.8 percent, with 11 votes apiece.

Gil Hodges? He got 3 votes or fewer along with Ken Boyer, Bob Howsam, Billy Pierce and Luis Tiant.

Well, the Hodges fans are livid. Greg Smith write Gil Hodges Jr. on Facebook, “I’m speechless, Gil.” Smith sensed “some serious animosity” among the voters. “Plane (sic) out and out resentment! Totally unprofessional. I’m just blown away,” he added.

Stu Kaplan of Durham, N.C., wrote, “Your father defined baseball for my father as the player he was.”

Michael See of Las Vegas wrote, “I think the HOF process is so flawed. I am so sorry that this travesty continues.”

Donna Bauer wrote, “Once again, they got it wrong . . . . Tell (your mom) the fans always got it right!”

Bauer had recalled in anticipation of the ballot how when she was 13 in 1969, “a silly little girl thought that Gil Hodges was so handsome that she wrote a letter to him asking for an autographed picture.”

She asked her parents for a stamp for the mailed request, not knowing whether to expect a reply. Her wish was granted. “It is just a small part showing how wonderful Gil was,” she wrote. The signed photo, which she still cherishes, made her “the envy of her neighborhood.”

Well, right or wrong, flawed or not flawed, baseball players do not get elected for being a childhood favorite or being the player who defined baseball for dear old dad or being generally beloved.

Was he better than the first baseman of his era, from 1945 to 1961? Musial, Mize, McCovey, Killebrew, Greenberg and Cepeda? When Cepeda was voted in by the then Veterans Committee, that decision was highly questionable. By all statistical standards, Cepeda was better offensively, while Hodges was better defensively.When a player ranks below a player rated “a mistake,” that’s not much of an endorsement.

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