Gil Hodges, it turns out, wasn’t merely a first baseman or a manager. Or a husband or father, for that matter.
The newly minted Hall of Famer, who died suddenly in 1972, is also a symbol of a bygone era when fans and their heroes interacted regularly and routinely. When fans felt a spiritual connection with their favorite teams and players that the world’s socioeconomic evolution has rendered impossible today.
My inbox got flooded this past week — after I wrote a column celebrating Hodges’ induction by the Golden Days Committee — with messages from folks who volunteered their personal ties with Gil. Three of them were kind enough to share more details, upon my prodding. Here are their stories:
Ron Herzman grew up in Brooklyn and now splits his time between the borough and upstate New York; the 78-year-old took pride in staying up all the way through Monday night’s wintry Patriots-Bills game. His top Gil memories centered around the annual sports dinner for his high school, Brooklyn Prep.