02 December 2010

out of position

this 1961 topps card is the last of the gil hodges as a dodger topps cards.
sure, his 1962 card has him in a dodger uniform, but the card says 'mets' so that doesn't really count.  the 1961 card has a classic pose and a stoic hodges and it's a very nice card.  except for the positions listed. 'first base - catcher'?  say what?

hodges was the dodgers' primary first baseman from 1949 through 1959.  during most of that time, roy campanella was behind the plate.  after campy was paralyzed, john roseboro took over.  so why is gil hodges listed as a catcher?   if anything, his 1961 card should have read 'first base - third base' since in 1960, hodges played a total of 55 innings at third, compared to 447.1 at first and 0 at catcher as we will see in a moment. 

after debuting with the dodgers as a third baseman in 1943, hodges returned from world war 2 service and was played exclusively as a catcher in the 28 games he appeared in while jackie robinson played first.  in 1948, hodges caught in 38 games but manned first base in 96.  in 1949, he played first base exclusively.

it stayed that way until 1953 when hodges appeared in a few games as an outfielder.  he did that again in 1955 and 1956 (along with a single inning behind the plate).  in 1957 he made a couple of appearances at third and one at second, then made his final outfield appearances in 1958.  he also caught for the last time that year, again a single inning performance.  in the following two seasons, hodges was used a handful of times at third base in addition to his first base duties. once he left the dodgers, he played only first base for the remainder of his career.

here's to you, 1961 topps gil hodges, even though you are out of position!

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