Rob DiMartino, Fan Post:
The Class of 1982 Mets Hall Of Famers included the first general manager in franchise history, George Weiss, and the first player inducted, Gil Hodges, who is known more by Mets fans as the manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets. The thing they had in common is that they both played a crucial role in the 1969 World Championship year.
George Weiss – General Manager/President (1961-1966) – Already having a successful history as a general manager with the New York Yankees, Weiss was hired to build the Mets franchise in 1961. He, along with Joan Payson, brought in Casey Stengel as their first move with the new franchise.
Throughout the first few years, Weiss acquired brand name stars to play with the big league club while drafting, signing and developing younger players. Many of these younger players developed into stars themselves, with players like Bud Harrelson, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and, of course, Tom Seaver, who helped lead the Mets through their miracle run in ’69. Although Seaver ultimately ended up with the Mets, it was actually through the persistence of assistant GM Bing Devine as well as the luck of the lottery that he did so. Weiss missed the boat on another notable name in 1966 and that was Reggie Jackson. With the first pick of the draft that year the Mets chose Steve Chilcott instead.
Although not every decision worked out in the Mets favor, there were enough “right” moves made to lead the Mets to their first World Series Championship in 1969. George Weiss and his 30+ years of experience in developing a farm system is one of the people Mets fans have to thank for that.
Gil Hodges – Player (1962-63), Manager (1968-71) – Mainly a player in name only for the Mets in 1962, Hodges’ claim to fame as a Met player was hitting the first Home Run in Mets history. He only went on to play 65 games for the Mets, however he was already considered one of the top players in the game at the time. He consistently ranked in the top 10 in the NL in home runs and RBI throughout the 1950s, to go along with 3 Gold Glove awards and 8 All Star appearances. Hodges also broke the record for grand slams, when he hit his 14th in 1957 and he held that record until 1974 when it was broken by the home run king, Hank Aaron.
As impressive as his stats as a player were, Hodges is immortalized in Mets history as being the Manager who brought the Mets to their first World Series Championship, becoming the first expansion team to do so. He was known for utilizing his entire team by platooning players and playing matchups. He knew the game and he knew how to handle the players. When asked about Hodges’ managerial style, Bud Harrelson was quoted as saying, “He knew who he had to coddle, he knew who he had to kick”
Hodges died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 47. He ranks 3rd in wins as a Mets manager with 339, including one of only three 100 win seasons in Mets history. Only he and Davey Johnson we able to win it all. Had Gil Hodges been around to manage longer, who knows where he may have led the Mets?
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