Duke Snider: Wikis

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Duke Snider
Center fielder
Born: September 19, 1926 (1926-09-19) (age 83)
Los Angeles, 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
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1980
Vote     86.49%

Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider (born September 19, 1926 in Los Angeles, California), nicknamed "The Silver Fox" and "The Duke of Flatbush", is a former Major League baseball center fielder and left-handed batter who played with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1947–62), New York Mets (1963), and San Francisco Giants (1964).

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

Contents

Early life and career

Growing up in Southern California, Duke was a gifted all-round athlete and strong-armed quarterback at Compton High School who could reportedly throw the football 70 yards on the fly. Spotted by one of Branch Rickey's bird-dog scouts in the early 1940s, he was signed to a baseball contract out of high school. 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. 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 shot with the Brooklyn Dodgers later that year. He started the next season (1948) with Montreal, and after tearing up that league with a .327 batting average, he was called up to Brooklyn for good during the middle of the season.

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 a respectable .292. In 1950 he hit .321. But when his average slipped to .277 in 1951, and the Dodgers squandered a 13-game lead to lose the National League pennant to the New York Giants, Snider received heavy media criticism and requested a trade.

"I went to Walter O'Malley and told him I couldn't take the pressure," Snider was quoted in the September 1955 issue of SPORT magazine. "I told him I'd just as soon be traded. I told him I figured I could do the Dodgers no good."

From 1947 to 1956, Brooklyn ruled the National League, winning 6 of 10 pennants. They benefited greatly from a large network of minor league teams created by Branch Rickey in the early 40's. It is here when the system called the "Dodger Way" of teaching fundamentals took root. From that large network of teams, a number of young talented players began to blossom at the same time: Snider, Gil Hodges, Carl Erskine, Ralph Branca, Clem Labine, Carl Furillo, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Joe Black and Jim Gilliam. Most have been enshrined in Roger Kahn's classic book, The Boys of Summer. By 1949, Snider, as he matured, became the triggerman in a power-laden lineup which boasted the likes of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Hodges, Campanella and Furillo. Often compared favorably with two other New York center fielders, fellow Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he was the reigning "Duke" of Flatbush. Usually batting third in the line-up, Snider put up some impressive offensive numbers: He hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons (1953–57), and averaged 42 home runs, 124 RBI, 123 runs and a .320 batting average between 1953-1956. He led the league in runs scored, home runs and RBIs in separate seasons. He 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 final. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 and in 1959.

LAret4.PNG
Duke Snider's number 4 was retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980

Snider's career numbers took a dip 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. 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 future Hall of Fame pitcher (and Cy Young award winner that year) Don Drysdale into the ninth inning of the third and deciding play-off game. Instead, Alston brought in Stan Williams in relief of a tiring Eddie Roebuck. A 4-2 lead turned into a 6-4 loss as the Giants rallied to win the pennant. For his trouble, Snider 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, he asked to be dealt 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 the 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 a mellow, low-key style.

1955 Most Valuable Player balloting controversy

While Snider did not win the 1955 Most Valuable Player Award, he could have but for a freak occurrence.

Snider finished second to teammate Roy Campanella by just five points, 226-221, with each man receiving eight first place votes. The voting, conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America, is run as follows: Each voting member, one from each major league city, fills out a ballot selecting ten players. A player receiving a first place vote gets 14 points, 9 points for second, and then awards of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for those in places 3 through 10. A hospitalized writer from Philadelphia had turned in a ballot with Roy Campanella listed in position number 1 as well as in position number 5. The assumption had been that the writer had meant to write Snider's name into one of those slots. Unabled to get a clarification from the ill writer, the BBWA, 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.

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 BBWA as the National League's best player of 1955.[1][2]

Later life

In 1995, Snider (along with Willie McCovey) pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges. According to the charges, he had failed to report income from sports card shows and memorabilia sales. [1] [2]

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.

With the death of Johnny Podres in January 2008, Snider is one of the last living Brooklyn Dodgers who played in the 1955 World Series.

Snider married Beverly Null in 1947. They have four children.

Other 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.
Transactions
  • 1944: Signed as an amateur free agent by the Brooklyn Dodgers
  • April 1, 1963: Purchased by New York Mets from Los Angeles Dodgers
  • April 14, 1964: Purchased by San Francisco Giants from New York Mets
  • October 6, 1964: Released by San Francisco Giants

Books

See also

References

  1. ^ The Duke of Flatbush by Duke Snider and Bill Gilbert
  2. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com

External links

Preceded by
Ted Kluszewski
National League RBI Champion
1955
Succeeded by
Stan Musial
Preceded by
Willie Mays
National League Home Run Champion
1956
Succeeded by
Hank Aaron
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