Card of the Moment #55
November 8th, 2010 by slangon

1980 Topps #172 Ron Hodges

Ron Hodges was a backup catcher who played his entire 12 year career with the Mets. I must admit that I find that kind of admirable. I think it’s fair to say that it’s not easy to break into the Major Leagues, but I also feel like it can’t be too easy to hang on that long in the role of a bench warmer. What would that be like to go to work everyday knowing that you’re just a spare part?

Don’t get me wrong, Championships are built on guys like Ron Hodges just as much as they are on the Willie Mays’ and Mickey Mantle’s of the world. For instance, Ron here was took part in a play that more or less led to the Mets playing in the 1973 World Series.

On September 20, 1973 the Mets sat tied in 3rd place with the Cardinals, behind the 1st place Pirates and the 2nd place Expos. This was actually a pretty crucial point in the season for them as they had just finished up a 2 game set with the Pirates in Pittsburgh (which they split) and now were playing 3 games against them at Shea.

The game was in the top of the 13th inning with the score knotted at 3 all. There were 2 outs with Richie Zisk on 1st. Dave Augustine hit a ball off the top of the left field wall at Shea, bouncing into Cleon Jones’ glove on the fly. Jones fired the ball to the cut-off man Wayne Garrett who in turn fired a strike to Ron Hodges who tagged Zisk out at home. Hodges was only in the game because Yogi Berra had pinch hit for Jerry Grote in the bottom of the 9th when they were trailing 2-3. In that same inning he used the second catcher Duffy Dyer as a pinch hitter and the used a pinch runner for him when he got on base with a double. That left Hodges as the lone catcher.

The Mets won that game in the bottom of the 13th on a RBI single by none other than Ronald Wray Hodges. They pulled into sole possession of 2nd place with that win, only half a game behind the Pirates. They also beat them the next day to take over 1st, which they held for the remainder of the season.

I’m just not sure whether when Ron first figured that he had what it took to make it into that hallowed brotherhood of professional baseball players he was necessarily envisioning himself in role of warming up pitchers in the bullpen and waiting around for the primary catcher to get injured. I’m also not sure if he envisioned himself playing a part in the heroics of September 20, 1973.

I think the same way that a player like Hank Aaron or Tom Seaver don’t come along everyday, guys like Ron Hodges don’t either. It takes a certain type of guy to show up every day for 12 years knowing that you’re probably not going to be playing that day. You just show up because you love baseball and you’re a professional ball player.

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