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With Jersey Retirement, Gil Hodges Connects the Dodgers and Mets Again


By 1980, Fred Wilpon would purchase the team, adding one other layer of connective tissue: Wilpon attended Brooklyn’s Lafayette High School with Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and was a rabid fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was under his watch that Citi Field opened in 2009 with so many Dodgers-related touches — most notably, the large Jackie Robinson Rotunda — that some Mets fans complained there have been more nods to Brooklyn than there have been to the Mets.

The connections would only proceed, with Mike Piazza’s Hall of Fame profession spanning the franchises and Justin Turner, an important member of the present Dodgers team, having began his profession in orange and blue.

Now, Steven A. Cohen, who tried to purchase the Dodgers in 2012, calls the Mets’ shots. In his first public remarks after purchasing the Mets, he cited the Dodgers because the model for what he hoped the Mets would grow to be. He has backed that up by pushing the Mets’ payroll near the highest of the game.

“They’re going to separate themselves from the pack,” said Valentine, who, in line with the theme of connective tissue, was once married to a daughter of Ralph Branca, who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers. “Quite a bit just like the Dodgers tried to do once they left town, and the Yankees have at all times done.”

Two of Hodges’s adult children — Gil Jr., 72, and Irene, 71 — plan to be in Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, in addition to two of Irene’s granddaughters and a cousin. And because the videos roll and the lights flash, the iron steel cable running through the a long time and the miles will remain as strong as ever.

“Indubitably, the ’69 World Series was amazing,” Irene Hodges says of her favorite memory. “Everybody was just ecstatic. All of Brooklyn was crazy. It was a beautiful time. My dad, I think, was a bit apprehensive about managing in Latest York. He knew how good the fans were here, how much they loved him, and he just desired to do right by them. He desired to have a successful team. And he did.”

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