The baseball world lost a venerable figure as Ron Hodges, the long-time catcher for the New York Mets, passed away at 74.
Ron Hodges, a former New York Mets catcher, died at age 74 after a brief illness, leaving a legacy of memorable plays and devoted fans.
On November 24, 2023, Hodges died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. His passing marked the end of a life dedicated to baseball, a sport he loved and excelled in from his early days in Virginia to his final game with the Mets.
Born in Rocky Mount, Virginia, on June 16, 1949, Ron Hodges grew up nurturing a passion for baseball. His journey took him from Franklin County High School to Appalachian State University, where his talents caught the attention of Major League scouts.
In 1972, a pivotal moment arrived: the New York Mets selected Hodges in the second round of the MLB draft. This choice would lead Hodges to spend his entire professional career with the team, a rarity in modern sports.
The following year, Hodges made his MLB debut on June 13, 1973. His entry into the major leagues was expedited due to injuries on the Mets team, but Hodges quickly proved he belonged in the big leagues.
Hodges's career was peppered with highlights, but none shone brighter than the famous "Ball on the Wall" play against the Pirates on September 20, 1973. In a critical moment, Hodges tagged out a runner at home, a play that would become emblematic of his defensive prowess and quick thinking.
But Hodges was more than just a defensive stalwart. He was known for delivering key hits when they mattered most. His career batting average of .240, along with 19 home runs and 147 RBIs, underscored his consistency and reliability at the plate.
Reflecting on his career in a 2018 interview, Hodges said, "Playing in that '73 season with the pennant drive in September is my favorite memory of my baseball career." This sentiment echoes the high regard in which he held that defining year.
Cleon Jones, a former Mets teammate, reminisced about Hodges, saying,
"I just remember so many key hits he got for us. Any time he played, Ron always managed to do something to help us win."
This testimony speaks volumes about Hodges's contribution to the team and the respect he earned from his peers.
"I just remember so many key hits he got for us. Any time he played, Ron always managed to do something to help us win." - Cleon Jones, former Mets teammate
Hodges's impact extended beyond the field. He was a family man, survived by his wife, Peggy, four sons, two sisters, and two grandchildren. His death is not just a loss for the baseball community but for his family and the many lives he touched.
Ron Hodges's final game in 1984 marked the end of a distinguished career entirely dedicated to the Mets. His loyalty and commitment to a single team throughout his career set him apart in an era of frequent team changes for players.
Hodges's dedication to the Mets was a testament to his character, illustrating his belief in commitment and perseverance. His longevity with the team is a rare feat in professional sports, highlighting his deep connection with the Mets organization.
Throughout his career, Hodges embodied the spirit of baseball: teamwork, dedication, and a love for the game. His passing is a reminder of the fleeting nature of sports careers and the lasting impact players like Hodges leave on their teams and fans.
Ron Hodges's story is one of triumph, dedication, and a deep love for baseball. From his early days in Virginia to his final game in a Mets uniform, he exemplified the qualities of a true sportsman: perseverance, skill, and a team-first attitude.
His legacy lives on in the memories of Mets fans, the records he set, and the lives he impacted. Hodges's career serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes, demonstrating the importance of dedication and loyalty in sports.
The baseball world will remember Ron Hodges not just for his statistics or specific plays but for the kind of player and person he was: dedicated, skilled, and deeply connected to the game he loved.