Gil Hodges, Miracle Maker

A great book review of Gil Hodges by William McGurn:

At a critical moment in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” Inspector Javert bursts into a room where he expects to find the escaped convict Jean Valjean. Instead, he comes upon Sister Simplice, a nun whose distinctive trait is that not once in her life has she told a lie. Such is her reputation that when she tells Javert, falsely, that she is alone and hasn’t seen Valjean, the inspector begs her pardon and recedes without a search.

Baseball had its own Sister Simplice moment. It came in the final game of the 1969 World Series between the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, when Mets batter Cleon Jones claimed that an errant pitch had hit him in the foot before rolling into the New York dugout. To back the claim, Mets manager Gil Hodges brought the ball out to the umpire and showed him a mark made by shoe polish. Mr. Jones was awarded first base and would score on a home run that would prove the turning point in a victory that gave the Mets their first world championship.

Many years after that event, Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman told an interviewer that he had grabbed the ball when it rolled into the dugout. Hodges, he said, told him to rub it against his shoe—hence the polish. Even so, there are those who believe the mere suggestion to be blasphemous. They include Cleon Jones, who has said: “You’ve got to know the type of individual Gil Hodges was. There was no way Gil Hodges would ever do anything dishonest.”

For sportswriters Tom Clavin and Danny Peary—the authors of “Gil Hodges: The Brooklyn Bums, the Miracle Mets, and the Extraordinary Life of a Baseball Legend”—their subject’s sterling character presents its own challenges. It’s as if someone writing an authoritative biography of George Washington were to find that all the old chestnuts were true: the cherry tree, the silver dollar thrown across the Potomac, the kneeling to pray in the snow of Valley Forge. In Hodges’s case, even his failings—the authors fault him for smoking too much, for keeping his feelings bottled up, for not talking about his combat experience as a Marine in World War II—speak to a certain ideal of manliness.

The rest here.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More