Mets Card of the Week: 1974 Ron Hodges

1974 TOPPS RON HODGES

This is the rookie card for Ron Hodges but Hodges made his major league debut the year before in 1973.

For reasons known only to a kid, I remember Hodges’ MLB debut. Specifically, I remember his first at-bat. Hodges crushed a ball but it was foul and he ended up striking out in his first plate appearance. I don’t remember anything else about the game, which is a shame because Baseball-Reference tells me that Tom Seaver had a complete game win against the Giants.

I don’t recall Seaver’s gem, I don’t recall Dave Kingman getting two hits for the visitors, I don’t recall Felix Millan hitting a HR – I remember a rookie striking out in his first major league action.

We had neighbors who lived two houses away from us that had kids close to me and my brother’s ages. They were a little weird but they were Mets fans so they were okay. I remember asking them if they saw Hodges play and they reacted like I said a bad word. According to them, while he was in the minors, Hodges somehow killed their cousin.

Today, I can find no corroborating evidence of this story. There’s nothing about it in his Wikipedia page and the Ultimate Mets Database on Hodges also has no mention of it. A Google search of “Did Ron Hodges kill a man” comes up with no story, either. Odds are it didn’t happen yet part of me thinks it somehow did.

How did he stay in the majors for so long? Well, you want to be the guy to cut someone who killed the Wright’s cousin? And it also makes his lifetime games played mark of 666 make a little more sense. Plus, he did break Craig Swan’s rib so he was no stranger to violence.

Even the Topps photographer was a little scared of Hodges. Here we see him in the traditional backup catcher pose – squatting but with no catching gear on – but we get a sideways shot. It was as if the camera man was too scared to look him in the eye.

In his first year in the majors, Hodges played on a team that went to the World Series. In his final year, he played on a team that won 90 games. In between, his teams amassed a combined 673-888 (.431) winning percentage. And that’s not even taking into account that he spent most of 1975, one of two seasons in that stretch where the team finished with more than 71 wins, in the minors.

That sounds like some kind of penance to me.

8 comments for “Mets Card of the Week: 1974 Ron Hodges

  1. Doug
    June 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Everyone knows that Ron Hodges shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. He was OG…

    Great piece!

  2. Steve C
    June 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I remember Ron Hodges debut as well, but all i remember is Kiner talking about while stating that Ronwas not related to Gil Hodges, he was a college roommate of Gil Jr. (or a son of Gil if I have the name wrong)

  3. Swan's Ribs
    June 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I remember the Craig Swan ordeal….He fired a pitch over the plate on a pitch out (supposed to be an easily handled ball in the opposite batter’s box) forcing Hodges to reach back toward the plate on a stolen base attempt. The runner was safe. Swan’s ribs were not.

    and who can forget the “ball off the wall” play!

  4. Jim OMalley
    June 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Hodges. One of the top 150 all-time Mets.

  5. Steve Rogers
    June 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I’m not sure which is more amazing, the fact that Hodges stayed on the Mets big league roster through 1984, even during a stretch when he was third on the depth chart behind Alex Trevino, or that Topps sets were done in such a way back then that he had a card in 11 of the possible 12 base sets that spanned his career. Missing out in only the 1976 set!

  6. Steve Rogers
    June 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Looking at B-R.com, ah true, he only played 9 games in 1975 which would explain that!

    Still, different time for Topps, though these days you might see a backup backstop every now and then.

  7. Charlie JoJo
    June 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Ron Hodges hit a homer at the first Mets game I ever went to. It was Fan Appreciation Day in 1975. A two run shot in the bottom of the 9th to avert a shutout in a loss to the Phillies. We were already making our way down through from the nosebleeds, so I never saw the homerun, but I’ll never forget the cheers echoing through Shea.

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