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Sports Then and Now




Remembering the Greatness of Duke Snider

Posted on February 27, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Duke Snider was a key part of the Boys of Summer.

One of the few remaining ties to the glory days of the Brooklyn Dodgers is gone with the death on Sunday of Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider at the age of 84.

Snider made his major league debut two days after his famous teammate Jackie Robinson on April 17, 1947  and over the next decade teamed with Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and others to form the famous “Boys of Summer.”

The Dodgers made six World Series appearances between 1947 and 1956 and in 1955 finally claimed the World Series title with a seven game series win over their regular nemesis the New York Yankees.

It was during that 1955 season that Snider reached his plateau as the leading slugger for the Dodgers. He finished second in the MVP voting while hitting .309 with 42 home runs and a career-high 136 RBI.

During the World Series, Snider hit .320 with four home runs and seven RBI. In six career World Series appearances, Snider hit .286 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI.

Baseball during the Golden Era of the 1950s was still a time when our heroes could be immortalized without fear that a drug scandal was on the horizon.

Known as the “Duke of Flatbush”, Snider was forever paired with fellow New York centerfielders of the 1950s Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle in the “Talkin’ Baseball” refrain of “Willie, Mickey and the Duke.”

Because he was arguably the third best of the three greats, Snider often was overlooked and his numbers cast aside. It took him an amazing 11 years before he received enough votes to earn induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But his value to the Dodgers during the 1950s is unmistakable. Between 1950 and 1959 he averaged 33 home runs, 103 RBI, 97 runs scored and a .307 batting average. He hit 40 or more home runs five times in the decade and eclipsed 100 RBI six times.

For his career, Snider hit 407 home runs, drove home 1333 runs and hit .295.

After helping the Los Angeles Dodgers win a World Series title in 1959, Snider spent three more generally unproductive years with the Dodgers before completing his career with single seasons with the Mets and Giants.

But it is as a Dodger, and most specifically as a Brooklyn Dodger, that Snider will always be remembered.

May he rest in peace.


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