Filling in the Blanks—Fletcher Hodge, Fletcher Hodges

29 Aug

Baseball Reference lists Fletcher Hodge, a pitcher for Cleveland, Tennessee in the Appalachian League in 1921 and Grand Rapids in the Michigan-Ohio League in 1924, and Fletcher Hodges appearing in six games with the Rochester Tribe in the International League in 1924.   He was the same player, with a life that spiraled out of control after an arm injury.

Born Ernest Fletcher Hodge (various sources give his birth date between 1898 and 1900) in Advance, Missouri, Hodge pitched for local teams around Sikeston, Missouri. There’s no record of how big Hodge was, but newspaper stories described him as “The giant righthander.”

He went 8-11 in the Appalachian League in 1921 and there is no record of him in professional baseball again until 1924.  Hodge was 9-6 with 3.00 ERA in 16 games at Grand Rapids when his contract was purchased by Rochester.

Hodge appeared in six games with Rochester.  Although no statistics exist, it is clear Hodge did not pitch well in the International League.  When his contract was sold to Terre Haute in the Three-I League in August the Rochester Journal said “In all his starts with the Tribe he was wild as a tornado.”  Hodge also reportedly injured his arm while with the Tribe.

Shortly after his contract was sold to Terre Haute, Hodge had his first confirmed brush with the law; he was arrested in Cincinnati for attempting to pass several bad checks drawn on a Rochester bank.  There’s no record of the disposition of the case, but it was reported that Rochester owner Walter Hapgood had interceded to get the charges either reduced or dropped (depending on the source).

In either case, Hodge never played for Terre Haute or Rochester and it appears he never played professionally again, although there were at least five pitchers identified only as “Hodge” who pitched for various teams from 1925-27. (here, here, here, here, and here)

By 1930 Hodge was living in Sikeston, Missouri.  On the evening of June 13 he went to a rooming house in Blytheville, Arkansas where his wife was visiting her mother.  Hodge shot and killed his wife Anna and fired four shots at his mother-in-law, who escaped injury.  He escaped to Sikeston and then Poplar Bluff, Mo before being taken into custody.

Hodge’s trial was scheduled to begin on November 4, 1930 when he instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.  There is no record of Hodge’s death, or if he was ever released from prison.

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