Duke Snider 1952 #037
by William Szczepanek
Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider, The Silver Fox, is another of the "Boys of Summer" from the Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1062). He finished his career with the New York Mets (1963) and San Francisco Giants (1964).
In the 1950s, the Yankees had Mantle, the Giants had Mays and the Dodgers had "The Duke of Flatbush." He was a graceful centerfielder with enough power to lead all hitters, including Mantle and Mays, with 326 home runs in the decade of the 1950s. Gil Hodges was second with 310. An eight time All Star, Snider has 407 lifetime home runs and is the Dodger leader with 389 home runs, 1,123 RBIs, 814 extra base hits and the single season record for most intentional walks with 26.
Snider is known for his hitting, but his defensive skills are often forgotten. The following is an excerpt from the Duke Snider Story by Al Stump, Sport, 1955.
About all the quiet Californian can do is take Roy Campanella's advice to ignore gossip, keep a sharp ear out for flying objects and bow to the inevitable. The great Dodger catcher, however, can't resist speaking up for Duke. "Back of the plate," Roy says, "I see him get a jump on balls like no other outfielder gets. You take that catch off Jones at Philly last season -- there's nobody, Mays included, who could have caught that one."
With two runners on base and the Dodgers leading, 5-4, in the 12th inning, Willie Jones drove a 405-footer up against the left-centerfield wall. Duke isn't a look-and-run outfielder, like Mays. He prefers to keep the ball in view all the time if possible, and he was judging this one every step of his long run to the wall. There it seemed he was climbing the concrete "on his knees," as awed Dodger coach Ted Lyons put it. Up and up he went like a human fly to spear the ball, give a confirming wave of his glove and fall backward to the turf. The wooden bracing on the wall showed spike marks almost as high as his head. It was such a catch that, although it saved the game for Brooklyn, admiring Philly fans swarmed the field by the dozens. Duke lost his cap and part of his shift and almost lost his belt.
Not the flamboyant personality of most stars in New York, Snider dealt with bouts of self confidence early in his career. He did not handle the pressures put on him by Branch Rickey and Leo Durocher and did not respond well to being put down and accused of being lazy. He asked for a trade from the Dodgers in late 1951 because he just couldn't take the pressure any more. Walter O'Malley gave him what he needed - a vote of confidence and Snider went on a tear for the rest of the decade.
The Duke seemed to shine when the pressure was on especially in the World Series. He is much noted for being the only player to hit 4 home runs in two different World Series, 1952 and 1955. He holds the NL record for most Series homers (11), and RBI (26), though Mantle (18), Ruth (15) and Berra (12) lead for the AL.
In 1954 Snider went into the final day of the season with Don Mueller .3426 leading the league, Snider second with .3425, with Willie Mays at .3422. Mays touched Robin Roberts for 3 hits and won the title as Snider came in third (.341) participating in a pitcher's duel with Karl Spooner beating Jake Thies of the Pirates 1-0. Snider went 0 for 3 as the Dodgers collected only 4 hits.
Duke Snider died yesterday at the age of 84 as this article lay unfinished.
My high salary for one season was forty-six
thousand dollars and a Cadillac. 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. ─