12-year major league veteran Ron Hodges passed away today at the age of 74, per an announcement from the Mets. Hodges spent his entire career as a member of the Mets.
Before ultimately landing with the Mets, several other teams attempted to draft Hodges. The Orioles selected him in the sixth round of the 1970 draft, though he did not sign with them. 1971 saw Hodges drafted in both January and June by the Royals and Braves, respectively, though he did not sign with a team until New York selected him in the second round of the secondary phase in the 1972 January draft. After signing, Hodges reached the big leagues fairly quickly, debuting with the major league club in June of 1973.
Hodges took to the role he spent much of his career in during his 1973 rookie campaign, acting as the club’s backup catcher and a pinch-hitter off the bench. After catching Hall of Fame right-hander Tom Seaver in his first career big league game, Hodges went on to make the club’s postseason roster in 1973. Though he did not appear during the NLCS against the Reds, Hodges appeared in Game 1 of the World Series against the A’s as a pinch hitter, drawing a walk in his lone appearance during the series as the Mets went on to lose to Oakland in seven games.
For the first eight season of his career, Hodges was used largely in his aforementioned role as a backup and pinch-hitter. He performed acceptably in that role, slashing .233/.320/.314 in 377 games across those seasons. Hodges broke out somewhat with the bat in 1981, however. Though he only appeared in 35 games, he impressed with a .302/.375/.419 slash line across his 48 trips to the plate that season. That offensive showing earned him some additional playing time during the 1982 season; he split time behind the plate with John Stearns, appearing in 80 games and slashing an above-average .246/.358/.373 in 276 plate appearances.
Hodges’s solid showing in a larger role in 1982 allowed him an even bigger opportunity the following year. He was the Mets’ Opening Day starter behind the plate in 1983, when he caught Seaver in the first start of his return to Queens for his age-38 season. Hodges went on to appear in 110 games with the Mets that season, slashing .260/.383/.308 in 305 trips to the plate that season. It proved to be the penultimate season of his career, as Hodges retired after the 1984 season with 666 career games and 1,683 plate appearances under his belt. A career .240/.342/.322 hitter, Hodges collected 342…