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Gil Hodges: The Brooklyn Bums, the Miracle Mets, and the Extraordinary Life of a Baseball Legend

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Due to his achievements as a player and manager, as well as his sterling character, Gil Hodges deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than any other player. A towering figure during the Golden Era of the 1950s, Hodges was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ powerful first baseman who, alongside Jackie Robinson, helped drive his team to six pennants and a thrilling World Series victory in 1955. Fans never booed the beloved home run hitter from Indiana who married a Brooklyn girl and settled in their borough, and they famously ...

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Gil Hodges: The Brooklyn Bums, the Miracle Mets, and the Extraordinary Life of a Baseball Legend

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Overview

Due to his achievements as a player and manager, as well as his sterling character, Gil Hodges deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than any other player. A towering figure during the Golden Era of the 1950s, Hodges was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ powerful first baseman who, alongside Jackie Robinson, helped drive his team to six pennants and a thrilling World Series victory in 1955. Fans never booed the beloved home run hitter from Indiana who married a Brooklyn girl and settled in their borough, and they famously prayed for him when he slumped.

 

Dutifully following the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958, Hodges longed to return to New York City. He joined the original Mets team in 1962, and he finished his playing career with them. In 1968, he took over the manager’s spot on their bench. Under his steady hand, the Mets went from a joke to World Champions in 1969—the Miracle Mets.        

 

Yet behind his stoic demeanor lay a man prone to anxiety and worry. Hodges was scarred by combat on Tinian and Okinawa during World War II, and his inner turmoil was exacerbated by tight pennant races and excruciating defeats. His sudden death in 1972 shocked his friends and family, and left a void in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

 

Acclaimed authors Tom Clavin and Danny Peary delve into one of baseball’s most overlooked stars, shedding light on a fascinating life and career that even his most ardent fans never knew. An exciting biography that paints a portrait of an amazing era of baseball as much as it does an admirable player, Gil Hodges is sure to please fans of America’s pastime.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A neglected baseball great receives his due in this comprehensive biography. In their second collaboration, veteran authors Clavin and Peary (Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero, 2010, etc.) highlight another player egregiously overlooked by baseball's Hall of Fame. At the conclusion of his playing career, Gil Hodges (1924–1972) had put up numbers that ranked among the all-time best. The authors dutifully chart his on-field heroics, reminding us of his slugging prowess (career home-run record for National League right-handed batters), his Gold Glove fielding and his knack for the big moment. More than anything, though, they feature Hodges the man, a fellow whose decency and character made an impression on everyone around him. From his sports-obsessed Indiana boyhood, to his short college tenure, his World War II service with the Marines, his crucial role as a leader of the storied 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers, his managerial stint with the Washington Senators and, most famously, with the Miracle Mets of 1969, Hodges was the sort of man after whom friends named their sons. For his quiet manner, stoicism and professionalism, he regularly drew comparisons to the sainted Lou Gehrig. A modest, devoted family man, Hodges was beloved in Brooklyn. When he slumped horribly in the 1952 World Series, church congregations prayed for him; when he brought a championship to the historically hapless Mets, all of New York toasted him. Perhaps he kept too much inside. As an adult, he was a chronic worrier, and he never discussed his combat experiences. Only a longtime smoking habit hinted at the stress he must have felt before his second heart attack in 1972, which killed him. The authors' brief on behalf of Hodges' Cooperstown credentials won't persuade everyone, but baseball fans will appreciate this look at an often-overshadowed star. A loving appreciation of a rare commodity: an extraordinary athlete who was an even better man.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451235862
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Clavin

Tom Clavin and Danny Peary are the national bestselling coauthors of Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero. Tom has also written or co-written ten other books, as well as being a former reporter for the New York Times. He lives in East Hampton, New York. Danny is a writer/researcher for “The Tim McCarver Show,” and an author of numerous books and articles. He lives in New York City.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    An Amazin' Character

    The myths of magic, luck, and chance are dispelled with the revelation that the strength, power, and character of Gil Hodges triumphed in 1969 over a bunch of talented, young baseball players.
    I was ten when the "Miracle Mets" came from 18 1/2 games back in August to take it all in the World Series. Two years later, on Easter Sunday, I was devastated by the heart attack and death of Gil Hodges.
    What I didn't know (until this book) was the humble, Midwest childhood and early baseball career that shaped this man. His family life and personal struggles set a tension that balanced this book. His military career as a Marine in the Pacific in World War II and his legendary' super-human strength were key in the respect afforded to him by the toughest players.
    His love of Brooklyn and New York City, adoration of Joan (his wife) and protective nature as a father (no short dresses and early curfews) provide never before seen glimpses of a true New York legend.
    In a town where money and marketing favor the "Bronx" boys, this book reminded me why I've always loved being a "Met's Bum" and a "Queens Guy". Sometimes a look at the past frames the present. This book is a must not just for Mets fans, but New Yorkers or anyone who "Believes in Miracles".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2014

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  • Posted September 23, 2013

    Great book about a great player and person. The reviewer who opi

    Great book about a great player and person.
    The reviewer who opined letting Hodges in the Hall of Fame means 50 other similar players would also have
    to get in makes the same mistake younger sportswriters make. Career statistics from the 1950's, an era of big 
    parks, a raised mound, and a less lively ball are different than later statistics with the lowered mound, small
    ballparks, and a lively ball. Hodges drove in 100+ runs for 7 years at a time when only a handful of players each
     year knocked in 100 runs.
    Moreover, Hodges was arguably the finest defensive first baseman to ever play the game. He won the first 2
    gold gloves and had the award existed earlier would have won them every year he played full time.
    Combine that with his leadership on one of the great dynasties in baseball history, his managerial success,
    and that he's not in the Hall of Fame is a terrible oversight.  Hopefully the veteran's committee will remedy that
    before those of us who saw him play are gone too. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2012

    Gil Hodges, a well-written, must-read biography

    A very thorough and interesting review not only of Gil Hodges the ballplayer and manager but of Gil Hodges the man, husband and father. A must-read for Brooklyn Dodgers fans specifically and baseball fans in genera.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    A Great Read!

    Clavin and Peary bring a legend to life and make a strong case that Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame.

    Growing up in Flatbush in the 50's-Gil was da Man!
    Bedford Avenue to Cooperstown-can't "wait till next year."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2012

    I am a life-long Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and Gil Hodges was my fav

    I am a life-long Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and Gil Hodges was my favorite player. I am therefore very sorry to report that this is not a good book. It drones on incessantly with a blow-by-blow account of virtually every game that Gil's Dodgers, Senators and Mets ever played, which is largely filler that fails to compensate for the lack of sufficient insight into Hodges as a person. This was a very complicated man, very quiet yet churning up inside, and he deserves far more analysis of what made him the way he was. Not a single psychologist was consulted. The book is especially short on Hodges's wartime experiences, and very few of the people he served with were tracked down and interviewed. It remains a mystery as to how much actual combat he saw on Okinawa and how it affected him. There are also a few obvious errors -- the Dodgers won the penant in 1916, not 1915 (p. 58), and the Yankees defeated the Giants in the 1951 World Series in six games, not five (p. 132). Such sloppiness makes one wonder about the accuracy of the more obscure detail that fills up so much of the book. The authors admit that it took them only two years, which is a pretty short time to be researching such a difficult subject who personally revealed so little of himself. The chapters about Gil's early life are the only really good ones, and the final chapter analyzing why he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame is excelllent. The rest is mostly boring filler. I hope someone eventually writes a really good, insightful biography of this extraordinary man, because this isn't it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    Good guy, good book- but not HOF material

    Great job by these authors telling the story of Gil's great Brooklyn and Mets career. This is ground that has been covered before, but it is told here with great heart, and includes many new stories and anecdotes about Hodges. Gil will forever be in the hearts of Dodgers and Mets fans, but there is really no case for him to be in the MLB Hall of Fame. He was a very visible player becuase of the market he played in, but if Gil gets in based on his career, you would have to add about 50 similar players. No offense to him and his legacy, but that just doesn't make sense.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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