TRIBUTE TO DUKE SNIDER

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Duke Snider

Born: September 19, 1926  -  (1926-09-19)
Los Angeles, California

Died: February 27, 2011(2011-02-27) (aged 84)
Escondido, California

Batted: Left  -  Threw Right

MLB debut

April 17, 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers

Last MLB appearance

October 3, 1964 for the San Francisco Giants

Career statistics

Batting average   -  .295

Home runs   -    407

Runs batted in  -  1,333

Teams

Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers (19471962) New York Mets (1963)

San Francisco Giants (1964)

Career highlights and awards

All-Star selection (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1963)

2 times World Series champion (1955, 1959)

Los Angeles Dodgers #4 retired

Other accomplishments

Member of the National

Baseball Hall of Fame

Induction - 1980

Vote - 86.49%

Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider (September 19, 1926 – February 27, 2011), nicknamed "The Silver Fox" and "The Duke of Flatbush", was a Major League Baseball center fielder and left-handed batter who played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1947–62), New York Mets (1963), and San Francisco Giants (1964).

Snider was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.

Early life and career

Born in Los Angeles, Snider was nicknamed "Duke" by his father at age five. Growing up in Southern California, Snider was a gifted all-around athlete, playing basketball, football, and baseball at Compton High School, class of 1944. He was a strong-armed quarterback, who reportedly could throw the football 70 yards. Spotted by one of Branch Rickey's scouts in the early 1940s, he was signed to a baseball contract out of high school in 1943. He played briefly for the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1944 (batting twice) and for Newport News in the Piedmont League in the same year. After serving in the military in 1945, he came back to play for the Fort Worth Cats in 1946 and for St. Paul in 1947. He played well and earned a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers later that year. He started the next season (1948) with Montreal, and after hitting well in that league with a .327 batting average, he was called up to Brooklyn for good during the middle of the season.

Major League Baseball career

In 1949 Snider came into his own, hitting 23 home runs with 92 runs batted in, helping the Dodgers into the World Series. Snider also saw his average rise from .244 to .292. A more mature Snider became the "trigger man" in a power-laden lineup which boasted players, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Carl Erskine, Preacher Roe, Carl Furillo, Clem Labine, and Joe Black. Often compared with two other New York center fielders, fellow Hall of Famers, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he was the reigning "Duke" of Flatbush.

In 1950 he hit .321. But when his average slipped to .277 in 1951. Off 44 points from his mark, Snider caught the brunt of the sports-page blame when the Dodgers squandered a 13% -game August lead and finished sec­ond to the Giants. Snider recalls "I went to Walter O’Malley and told him I couldn’t take the pressure,” Duke says. “I told him I’d just as soon be traded. I told him I figured I could do the Dodgers no good.” Of course the trade did not happen.

Usually batting third in the line-up, Snider established some impressive offensive numbers: he hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons (1953–57), and between 1953-1956 averaged 42 home runs, 124 RBI, 123 runs, and a .320 batting average. He led the National league in runs scored, home runs, and RBIs in separate seasons, and appeared in six post-seasons with the Dodgers (1949, 1952–53, 1955–56, 1959), facing the New York Yankees in the first five and the Chicago White Sox in the last. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 and in 1959.` 

  4

Duke Snider's number 4 was
retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980.

Snider's career numbers declined when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Coupled with an aching knee and a 440-foot right field fence at the cavernous Coliseum, Snider hit only 15 home runs in 1958. However, he had one last hurrah in 1959 as he helped the Dodgers win their first World Series in Los Angeles. Duke rebounded that year to hit .308 with 25 home runs and 88 RBI in 400 at bats while platooning in center field with Don Demeter. Injuries and age would eventually play a role in reducing Snider to part-time status by 1961.

In 1962 when the Dodgers led the NL for most of the season (only to find themselves tied with the hated Giants at the season's end) it was Snider and third-base coach Leo Durocher who reportedly pleaded with Manager Walter Alston to bring in future Hall of Fame pitcher (and Cy Young award winner that year), Don Drysdale, in the ninth inning of the third and deciding play-off game. Instead Alston brought in Stan Williams to relieve a tiring Eddie Roebuck. A 4-2 lead turned into a 6-4 loss as the Giants rallied to win the pennant. Snider subsequently was sold to the New York Mets. It is said that Drysdale, his roommate, broke down and cried when he got the news of Snider's departure.

When Snider joined the Mets, he discovered that his familiar number 4 was being worn by Charlie Neal, who refused to give it up. So Snider wore number 11 during the first half of the season, then switched back to 4 after Neal was traded. He proved to be a sentimental favorite among former Dodger fans who now rooted for the Mets. But after one season, Snider asked to be traded to a contending team.

Snider was sold to the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day in 1964. Knowing that he had no chance of wearing number 4, which had been worn by Mel Ott and retired by the Giants, Snider took number 28. He retired at the end of that season.

In Snider's 18-year career he batted .295 with 407 home runs and 1,333 RBI in 2,143 games. Snider went on to become a popular and respected analyst and play-by-play announcer for the Montreal Expos from 1973 to 1986, characterized by his mellow, low-key style.

1955 Most Valuable Player balloting controversy

Snider finished second to teammate Roy Campanella in the 1955 Most Valuable Player balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America by just five points, 226-221, with each man receiving eight first place votes. A widely believed story, summarized in an article by columnist Tracy Ringolsby, holds that a hospitalized writer from Philadelphia had turned in a ballot with Campanella listed as his first place and fifth place vote. It was assumed that the writer had meant to write Snider's name into one of those slots. Unable to get a clarification from the ill writer, the BBWAA, after considering disallowing the ballot, decided to accept it, count the first place vote for Campanella and count the fifth place vote as though it were left blank. Had the ballot been disallowed the vote would have been won by Snider 221-212. Had Snider gotten that now-blank fifth place vote, the final vote would have favored Snider 227-226.

Investigative reporting by Joe Posnanski, however, has suggested that this story is not entirely true. Instead, Posnanski writes that there was a writer who did leave Snider off his ballot and write in Campanella's name twice, but it was in first and sixth positions, not first and fifth. Had Snider received the sixth place vote, the final tally would have created a tie, not a win for Snider. Additionally, the position was not discarded—everyone lower on the ballot was moved up a spot and the writer, and pitcher Jack Meyer was inserted at the bottom with a 10th place vote.

Snider did, however, win the Sporting News National League Player of the Year Award for 1955, and the Sid Mercer Award, emblematic of his selection by the New York branch of the BBWAA as the National League's best player of 1955.

Later life

In 1995 Snider pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges. According to the charges, he had failed to report income from sports card shows and memorabilia sales.

Besides his selection to the Hall of Fame in 1980, in 1999 Snider was ranked 84 on The Sporting News's list of "100 Greatest Players", and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Snider married Beverly Null in 1947; they had four children.

Snider died on February 27, 2011, at age 84 of what his family said of an undisclosed illness at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, California.

Accomplishments

Eight-time All-Star (1950–56, 1963)

Six-time Top 10 MVP

1950: 9th

1952: 8th

1953: 3rd

1954: 4th

1955: 2nd

1956: 10th

.540 slugging percentage (37th all-time)

.919 OPS (50th all-time)

3,865 total bases (87th all-time)

407 home runs (41st all-time)

1,333 RBI (77th all-time)

1,481 runs scored (74th all-time)

850 extra-base hits (65th all-time)

17.6 at-bats per home run (59th all-time)

Dodgers career leader in home runs (389), RBI (1,271), strikeouts (1,123), and extra-base hits (814)

Holds Dodgers single-season record for most intentional walks (26 in 1956)

Only player to hit four home runs (or more) in two different World Series (1952, 1955)

One of only two major leaguers with over 1,000 RBI during the 1950s. The other was his teammate, Gil Hodges.

Date of Birth

19 September 1926, Los Angeles, California, USA

Date of Death

27 February 2011, Escondido, California, USA (natural causes)

Birth Name

Edwin Donald Snider

Nickname

The Silver Fox
The Duke of Flatbush

Height

6' (1.83 m)

Spouse

Beverly Null - (
25 October 1947 - 27 February 2011) (his death) 4 children


Trivia

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1980. Played for the National League's Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1947-1962), New York Mets (1963) and San Francisco Giants (1964).

Was sold to the New York Mets just before the start of the 1963 season, where he was a huge sentimental favorite.

Wore number 11 initially when he joined the Mets, then switched back to his familiar number 4 when Charley Neal, who refused to give it up, was traded to Cincinnati.

Was sold to the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day of the 1964 season, where he wore number 28.

His favorite athlete as a kid was Jackie Robinson, who played for UCLA in Snider's hometown.

Holds the National League record for most home runs (11) and most RBIs (26) in World Series play. He is also the only player to have four homers in two World Series (1952 and 1955).

Team captain of the Dodgers in 1962.

The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year (1955).

He was sentenced to two years probation and fined $5,000 in 1995 for failing to pay taxes on money earned signing autographs at card shows.

Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers All-Time Homerun Leader (389).

Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers All-Time RBI Leader (1,271).

Made his major debut on on April 17, 1947.

Hit the last home run at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on September 22, 1957.

Uniform number 4 retired by the Dodgers.


Personal Quotes

"The Mets are wonderful but you can't take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn." (on Duke Snider Night at the Polo Grounds in 1963)

"Today's baseball players are walking conglomerates. They have fantastic salaries, multiple investments, but we had one thing they don't have today: the train ride. We didn't always like it, but those rides kept us close as a team and as friends. Something you can't get on a two hour plane ride that used to take you fifteen hours on a train."

"The sport to which I owe so much has undergone profound changes, but it's still baseball. Kids still imitate their heroes on playgrounds. Fans still ruin expensive suits going after foul balls that cost five dollars. Hitting streaks still make the network news and hot dogs still taste better at the ballpark than at home."

"Man, if I made one million dollars I would come in at six in the morning, sweep the stands, wash the uniforms, clean out the office, manage the team and play the games."

On Jackie Robinson: "He knew he had to do well. He knew that the future of blacks in baseball depended on it. The pressure was enormous, overwhelming, and unbearable at times. I don't know how he held up. I know I never could have."

"We wept, Brooklyn was a lovely place to hit. If you got a ball in the air, you had a chance to get it out. When they tore down Ebbets Field, they tore down a little piece of me."

"The field was even greener than my boy's mind had pictured it. In later years, friends of ours visited Ireland and said the grass there was plenty green all right, but that not even the Emerald Isle itself was as green as the grass that grew in Ebbets Field."


Duke Snider - Baseball Super-star of the Dodgers during the 1950's.

The Duke prepares for some batting practice at Ebbets Field.

Duke in 1953.

Duke watches the pitcher as he awaits on-deck.

Duke watches another home run leave the park.

The Dodger's celebrate after 1955 World Series vistory over the hated Yankees.

Snider meets with reporters after a Dodger victory.

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Duke Snider remains the all-time favorite everyday baseball player of Cecil Buffington.

Duke Snider around 1954.

The Duke prepares the lumber for a trip to the plate in 1955.

The famous upright batting stance of Duke Snider.

Dodger team-mates await Duke after another home run.

The Duke on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

An autographed Duke Snider trading card.

Duke with Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, and Don Drysdale.

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