Gil Hodges was a legend both on and off the field. So we’re cheering at the recent news that he’s been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hodges was a devout Catholic, and recently an award-nominated documentary from Spirit Juice Studios shared many moving details about his life and his faith. He was a man of great character, who tried hard to live up to the faith he professed.
In honor of his extraordinary life, here are 3 life lessons from this amazing baseball player and human being.
1He was a loyal and steadfast friend
Hodges returned to playing baseball in 1947 after a stint serving in World War II. This was the same year that Jackie Robinson famously entered the major leagues.
Robinson and Hodges became very close friends. Their friendship began on the field but grew stronger over time. They found great joy in their relationship and stood by each other to the end of their lives.
Hodges was a loyal friend who did whatever he could to support Robinson as he broke the color barrier in baseball. He often defended Robinson against aggression from their opponents.
The Robinson and Hodges families also became friends and they spent time together at their homes. When Gil Hodges died, Robinson told Hodges’ son, “Next to my son’s death, this is the worst day of my life.”
2He made his faith a priority
Hodges made it a point to go to Mass every Sunday, even when he was on the road. National Catholic Register reports this recollection from Hodges’ son:
Being the only boy in the family, I was very fortunate I got to travel with Dad during the summers. It was great for me. Regardless of where we were and what transpired on Saturday nights or how long the game was with extra innings, Sunday morning we were up and we were on our way to church. We never missed Mass. He was a firm believer. That was something he did. That helped create his character and give him that inner strength.
He also volunteered in the community as a Knight of Columbus, and was often seen praying his Rosary before games.
3He shared the Gospel with the way he lived his life
Hodges was known as a “peacekeeper on the field,” calling to mind Christ’s words, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). He helped resolve disputes while also staunchly standing up for what’s right.
Hodges was the epitome of “leading by example,” as his kind and steadfast actions spoke louder than words ever could. He’s a wonderful role model for Catholic men everywhere, and especially athletes and baseball players. Maybe it’s worth taking a trip to Cooperstown just to honor his life and legacy!