1969 Mets Players Remember Former Manager Gil Hodges

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The Mets’ home opener on Thursday will be played on what would have been the 95th birthday of 1969 Mets manager Gil Hodges.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell spoke to members of the Amazin’ Mets about their former skipper. They say he was a catalyst for the team’s success, including their legendary World Series win 50 years ago this year.

Hodges served in the Marines in World War II and had a reputation for being tough.

First baseman Ed Kranepool played more games in a Mets uniform than any other player. He feels Hodges changed the losing culture of the team.

“You know, he was a strict disciplinarian, but he was a great leader,” Kranepool said. “It’s because of his leadership that we really have changed everything around. We went from the last-place laughingstock to a championship team in ’69.”

Art Shamsky played right field for the ’69 Mets. He marveled at Hodge’s ability to get players to think of the team first.

“That’s not easy to do as a manager,” he said. “You know, you’ve got 25 personalities and you really have to deal with certain things. But Gil was a very strong disciplinarian and when he talked, we listened.”

Hodges died suddenly on April 2, 1972 – 47 years ago Tuesday.

Gil Hodges Jr. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Thursday’s home opener, which you can hear live on WCBS 880.