Waterloo baseball fans are recalling their memories of a successful former minor league manager who died over the weekend. Gomer Hodge guided the Cleveland Indians’ Class-A Midwest League farm club for four seasons from 1981 to 1984, twice advancing the team to the playoffs. During his tenure, Waterloo compiled a 297-257 record and Hodge was twice named Midwest League Manager of the Year.
His Waterloo success highlighted a minor league managing and coaching career that lasted more than two decades. In all, Hodge’s professional baseball career lasted 40 years. Cleveland signed him as a player in 1963, and assigned the switch-hitting infielder to the team’s farm club in Dubuque. Hodge was with the Packers only one year, but played 13 seasons in the minors – mostly at the double-A level. Hodge played his only major league season with Cleveland in 1971, getting 83 at-bats in 80 games.
But, he became a folk hero on a team that lost 102 games. After Hodge started the season four-for-four, he told reporters – quote – "Golly, fellas. I’m hittin’ four-thousand!" The 63-year-old Hodge died of Lou Gehrig’s disease on Sunday. Funeral services were held Tuesday in his hometown of Rutherfordton, North Carolina.