Sunday, July 24th will be a historic day for baseball fans and card collectors. Six new members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, including legends such as David Ortiz and Tony Oliva, will be inducted on that day.
We’ll explore each of those players, including their Hall of Fame credentials, their path to the Hall of Fame, and of course, their rookie and other baseball cards.
Today we continue the series with long-time Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers star Gil Hodges.
A player becomes eligible for election into the Hall of Fame five years after their retirement. If a player had a 10-year career and is selected by the committee, they appear on the ballot to be voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
A player appears on the ballot until elected by appearing on 75% of ballots, dropping off the ballot by appearing on less than 5% of ballots, or appearing on the ballot for 10 years (until recently, the maximum years on the ballot was 15).
Now, after a player drops off the ballot, induction into the Hall of Fame isn’t off the table. The Hall of Fame knows that with more time, some players’ careers can be re-examined and their Hall of Fame case becomes more convincing. The Hall has a series of committees that meet to examine these players and their hall of fame merits.
These committees consist of 16 members that meet in person and vote. Just like the BBWAA ballot, 75% or more of the vote is required for induction, in this case, 12 out of 16 votes.
Hodges’ Hall of Fame case was one of the most argued ever. While he was considered one of the best players of the 1950s and played on a number of winning ball clubs, he never led the league in any major offensive category or won an MVP award.
His 43.9 career WAR total is certainly low for a Hall of Fame first basemen. The argument waged for many years, nostalgia and being a Dodger (and Mets, for his role in the 1969 World Championship) icon vs. numbers that suggested a more borderline case.
Hodges hit .273/.359/.487 for his career, good for a .846 OPS and 120 OPS+. He hit 370 home runs in his career, with 1,274 RBI. He was an All-Star eight times and won three Gold Glove awards.
He played in seven World Series, with his Dodgers winning two World Championships.
Hodges managed for 9 years after his playing days were over, and although he had an overall losing record as a manager, he led the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to a surprise World Championship. His untimely death just days before his 48th birthday robbed him of a chance of more managerial greatness.
Hodges appeared on the BBWAA ballot from 1969 to 1983. After appearing on 24.1% of ballots his first year, he spent the rest of the time on the ballot mostly in the 40-60% vote total. He maxed out at 63.4% of the vote in his final year of eligibility.
He first appeared on the Veteran’s Committee ballot in 1987 and appeared on several of those ballots through 2009. Then came appearances on the Golden Era ballot in 2010 and 2014, and the Golden Days Era in 2016. Each time, he fell short.
At this point, Hodges was well-known as the candidate who had gotten the highest vote % from the BBWAA without eventually getting elected.
But on December 5th, 2021, the long journey finally came to the end. Hodges was elected to the Hall of Fame with 12 of the 16 committee votes, reaching the 75% threshold.
The Trading Card Database shows Hodges appearing on 968 cards, most released after his playing days were complete.
Gil Hodges rookie card is generally accepted to be his 1949 Bowman card, although he does appear on a Bond Bread issue in 1947. The Bowman card has a total PSA population of 804 cards, including 91 PSA 8’s, 11 PSA 9’s, with no PSA 10’s.
A PSA 7 recently sold for around $1,500, up slightly since his Hall of Fame election. Because Hodges has long been considered a Hall of Fame candidate, his cards are seeing a bit less of a bump than many players see when elected. His cards have been selling in the range of a lower-end Hall of Famer for some time.
If the rookie card is a bit out of your price range, or just hard to track down, Hodges’ other cards from his playing days are classic vintage cards from some classic vintage sets. They’re worthwhile additions to any collection.
A particularly attractive example is from the classic 1952 Topps set. Hodges appears on card #36 of the set, and the first 80 cards of the set come in both black and red-backed variations. The black backs are a bit harder to come by, but either version features a really nice horizontal image of Hodges.
Hodges manager cards in the late 60s into the early 70s, are on the more affordable side but still represent some nice vintage collectibles.
Hodges has appeared on a lot of cards in the many years since his playing days. Some of these are low serial numbered, memorabilia cards, and the like.
What you won’t find many of is certified autographs. Hodges passes away in 1972, long before the certified autograph craze in card collecting. He has appeared on a few “cut signature” signed cards over the years, but most of these are 1/1’s and sell for several hundred dollars when and if they come up for sale.
Here is a sampling of Hodges’ cards, including PSA populations, Gil Hodges baseball card value and a few recent comps:
|Year/Set||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|1949 Bowman||913||PSA 7: 121||$1,500|
|1952 Topps||1,528||PSA 6: 262||$400-450|
|1952 Berk Ross||98||PSA 8: 39||$700|
|1969 Topps||627||PSA 8: 352||$100-150|
Gil Hodges’s Hall of Fame candidacy has been a bit of a flashpoint among fans and collectors for over half of a century. It is unlikely that any player has appeared on as many ballots as Hodges has over the years. Whatever side of the argument you land on, we finally have some closure with Hodges being inducted this summer.
While at the time of the ceremony, Hodges’s untimely death will have just had its 50th anniversary, with a little luck, his widow, who is now 95 years old, will be able to attend the ceremony to see her late husband earn baseball’s highest honor.
No matter your collecting budget or focus, there is likely a place for a Hodges card (or several) in your collection, just as he’ll now take his place in Cooperstown after a long journey.