1961 was Gil's last year in Dodger Blue. As a 19-year old in 1943 he signed an amateur free agent contract, and immediately joined the Dodgers in Brooklyn. He got into the very last game of the season, and walked in 3 plate appearances (striking out twice). Eleven days later he joined the Marines as a WWII anti-aircraft gunner. He would have to wait until 1947 before he got another chance to get his first Major League hit. Overall, he spent 16-years as a member of the Dodger franchise.
Gil Hodges was one of the more loved characters of the Boy's of Summer. "Not getting booed at Ebbets Field was an amazing thing. Those fans knew their baseball and Gil was the only player I can remember whom the fans never, I mean never booed," said Clem Labine.
In 1953, Hodges slumped badly, but Brooklyn's fans didn't hem and haw. Instead, they prayed for him. From his biography in The Game of Baseball.
"The thing that most people hear about that one is that a priest [Father Herbert Redmond of St. Francis Roman Catholic Church] stood in a Brooklyn pulpit that Sunday and said, "It's too hot for a sermon. Just go home and say a prayer for Gil Hodges." Well, I know that I'll never forget that, but also I won't forget the hundreds of people who sent me letters, telegrams, and postcards during that World Series. There wasn't a single nasty message. Everybody tried to say something nice. It had a tremendous effect on my morale, if not my batting average. Remember that in 1952, the Dodgers had never won a World Series. A couple of base hits by me in the right spot might have changed all that."As many old-timers will tell ya, Gil Hodges is a Hall of Famer. He exhibited the character, received the love and exemplified the way you should play the game. Hodges was a leader of men, and the main core of the Brooklyn Dodgers. If not for him, there might not have been that only Championship in Brooklyn. If not for him, Brooklyn's legacy would undoubtedly not be what it is today.
Below are complete scans of every page from Gil Hodges' 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet. Click any pic to embiggen.
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