Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020
Every Dodger fan should have heard of “Duke of Flatbush.” Edwin “Duke” Snider, a Hall of Fame center fielder, hit the most home run in the history of the Dodger franchise.
Everybody who likes baseball should have heard Talkin’ Baseball by Terry Cashman. The line Willie, Mickey, and the Duke is famous and refers to the three Hall of Fame center fielders who played in New York during the 1950s.
Although Snider was a terrific defensive center fielder who could hit for power and could run, people widely ignored Snider. Mickey Mantle played for the Yankees and hit over 500 home runs in the Major Leagues despite playing in pain practically every day of his eighteen-year Major-league career.
As a twenty-year-old, Mantle flawlessly took over the Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, who had a 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Annually, he played in the Fall Classic and won a world championship.
Willie Mays was the first African American to play for the New York Giants. As a nineteen-year-old, Mays could do everything on a baseball diamond with style. In the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, Mays made an unbelievable highlight-reel catch with such style. Mays’ enthusiasm for the game and innate style endeared him to most baseball fans, except the ones for the Dodgers. During his 22-year Mays hit over 500 home runs.
Early in his Major-League career, Snider pouted if he did not have a good game. He needed time to learn the strike zone and how to field ground balls to center field. Since Snider had much innate baseball talent, the fans in Brooklyn fell in love with “The Duke.”
Snider played in eight All-Star games and six World Series. He was a member of the 1955 and 1959 Dodger world champion teams. He was the first player to blast four home runs in two World Series, 1952 and 1955. In 1955, despite leading the National League in RBI, he finished second in the NL MVP balloting to teammate Roy Campanella. In 1956, Snider led the NL in home runs.
A knee surgery when Snider was 31 diminished his playing skills. Besides playing for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, Snider performed for the happiness New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants.
Snider became a popular laid-back broadcaster for the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos. In 1980, Snider was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Upon his death at 84 in 2011, Snider was the last player to perform in Brooklyn. His #4 is on the Dodger Ring of Honor.
Though many fans preferred either Mickey or Willie, every Dodger fan loved “The Duke.”