Sunday, February 27, 2011

Farewell Duke Snider

(Los Angeles Dodgers/Jon SooHoo)

The "Silver Fox," Duke Snider, passed away this morning at the age of 84. He unquestionably ranks as one of the greatest Dodgers to ever play the game and will always be remembered as "The Duke of Flatbush."

Born Edwin Donald Snider in Los Angeles, CA on Sept. 19, 1926, Snider was among the game’s most feared hitters during his 16 seasons with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1947-1962), playing on a pair of World Championship teams (1955 and 1959) and in six World Series overall.

The seven-time All-Star center fielder ranks as the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs (389) and runs batted in (1,271) and during the 1950s, he topped all Major Leaguers with 326 homers and 1,031 RBI. He slugged four home runs in both the 1952 and 1955 World Series.

Nicknamed “Duke” by his father at age five, he was a standout in football, baseball and basketball at Compton High School before signing with the Dodgers at age 17 in 1943. He briefly played in the low minors before entering the Navy.

He will be missed and will always be remembered.
I received a great article from the Dodger written by Mark Langill and printed in Dodgers Magazine. It provided a little glimpse into his life.
“My dad saw that I was pretty active in sports,” Snider said. “And Edwin just doesn’t seem to have the same ring that Duke does. And so he started calling me Duke. My mom kept calling me Edwin. But he called me Duke. And ‘The Duke of Flatbush’ sounds better than ‘The Edwin of Flatbush.’”...

The Dodgers signed Snider at age 17 in 1943. He briefly played in the low minors before entering the Navy. But his time in the military didn’t interfere with his baseball development.

“We played baseball almost every day when I was in Guam with the submarine tender,” he said. “So I really didn’t miss playing baseball. It wasn’t professionally, but there were some pretty good service teams at that time that I played with and against. Eighteen months is a season and a half in baseball, but actually I didn’t miss anything because I was young, just 18 or 19 years old, and as a result, being in the service didn’t hamper my progress as a player.”

...

“We always seemed to play the Yankees,” Snider said. “In 1955 when we finally beat them, it took a little while for it to sink in. We were a little quiet in the clubhouse. Somebody hollered, ‘Hey, we won!’ And then we just let it go. It was really a beautiful celebration. Then we had a big dinner in downtown Manhattan at the Roosevelt Hotel. We just had a wonderful time. There were two buses going back to Brooklyn and the streets were just lined with people in Brooklyn. I guess word had gotten out about what our route was going to be because there was a ticker-tape parade from Yankee Stadium back to Brooklyn. And I think it was a relief for everybody because sentimentally, we were the favorite throughout the country as far as winning a world championship was concerned.”

(Los Angeles Dodgers/Jon SooHoo)

Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt: “Duke was one of the truly legendary Dodgers who made his mark first in Brooklyn and then in his hometown, Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of spending time with him on several occasions and he was a truly wonderful man. I’m so glad that we were able to keep him as an active part of the Dodger family over the past several years. The entire Dodger organization is deeply saddened by his loss and our heartfelt thoughts are with Beverly and his family.”

Dodger Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda: “I was a Duke's teammate and looked up to him with respect. Duke was not only a great player but he was a great person too. He loved his family and loved the Dodgers. He was the true Dodger and represented the Dodgers to the highest degree of class, dignity and character. He was my teammate and friend and I will really miss him.”

Dodger Hall of Fame broadcast Vin Scully: “He was an extremely gifted talent and his defensive abilities were often overlooked because of playing in a small ballpark, Ebbets Field. When he had a chance to run and move defensively, he had the grace and the abilities of DiMaggio and Mays and of course, he was a World Series hero that will forever be remembered in the borough of Brooklyn. Although it’s ironic to say it, we have lost a giant. He’s joining a great Dodger team that has moved on and I extend my sympathies to his entire family, especially to Bev.”

(Los Angeles Dodgers/Jon SooHoo)

eBay: Some Vintage Dodger Snapshots

Photo album finds are probably the least appreciated collectible in the sports memorabilia hobby. They are one-of-a-kind photographic treasures taken by an eager fan that we can all identify with. I love running into these items when ever they pop up.

Below are two examples of these photos. Here is Brooklyn Dodger Joe Medwick posing on the grounds of Wrigley Field in Chicago, 1941.

Here, is a candid shot of Dodger manager Leo Durocher at Wrigley in 1941.

Day 11 Spring Training Report

Be sure to check out Roberto's reports from Spring Training at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, here and here.
  • FREEWAY STORY 2: The Dodgers and Angels square off again today following yesterday’s 4-1 Halos’ victory at Diablo Stadium in Tempe. The Boys in Blue also dropped their other split-squad game over in Scottsdale, 8-3 to the Giants. The 2011 Camelback Ranch lid-lifter will see the Dodgers searching for their first Cactus League victory of the year after going 11-17-2 in 2010. After today, the two squads won’t meet again until the Freeway Series on March 28 at Dodger Stadium and March 29 at Angel Stadium.

  • THE FIGHTERS: Dodger right-hander RHP John Ely will make his 2011 Spring debut this afternoon. Ely took L.A. by storm last season, making six straight quality starts from May 6 to June 1 after replacing an injured Vicente Padilla in the rotation. Ely’s six straight quality starts were the most consecutive by a Dodger rookie since Hideo Nomo in 1995. In addition, the Illinois native faced 89 straight batters without allowing a walk from April 28 to May 22, the longest such streak by a Dodger rookie since Dave Stewart had a 93-batter streak in 1981. Following Ely to the mound will be RHP Blake Hawksworth, RHP Mike MacDougal, RHP Ramon Troncoso, RHP Kenley Jansen and RHP Jon Link. LHP Scott Kazmir will take the ball for the Angels.

  • SURVIVING WINTER’S BONE: Despite a hard rain throughout the night and chillier than average temperatures, the show will go on and today marks the 2011 home opener for Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers have called Camelback Ranch their Spring Training home since 2009 and March 1 will mark the two-year anniversary of the first game on these grounds. Since opening, the club has set numerous attendance records and last season the Dodgers drew 124,501 fans in 14 contests at Camelback Ranch.

(TwitPic Link: uscpsycho)
  • INCEPTION: Opening Day at Dodger Stadium against the Giants on Thursday night, March 31 is just 32 days away. Yesterday, approximately 3,000 fans braved the elements and showed up at Dodger Stadium, helping Opening Day sell out in less than two hours. However, Opening Day tickets are still available to those purchasing season tickets or mini plans. To get your Opening weekend tickets vs. the Giants, visit dodgers.com.

  • THE DODGER KING’S SPEECH: Later today, Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will be honored with a lifetime achievement award and a city certificate tomorrow at the Beverly Hills Wine Festival. The mayor of Beverly Hills will be on hand for the ceremony which will recognize Scully’s dedication and contributions to Los Angeles.

  • TRUE GRIT: After getting the day off yesterday, Dodger gamers Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Juan Uribe are in the starting lineup this afternoon and will make their 2011 Spring Training debuts. Blake played in 146 games last season, his most since 2007 while Uribe logged 148 contests, including 139 starts, his most since 2007. Injuries limited Furcal to 97 games in 2010, but he was named to the NL All-Star team and averaged 153 games per season from 2002-2006.

(Twit Pic Link: uscpsycho)
  • THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Four Dodger minor leaguers will dress for the game today, including youngsters Javier Solano (RHP), Alberto Bastardo (LHP) and David Pfeiffer (LHP). Bastardo, who will wear No. 87, tied for the Dodger organizational lead last season with 12 wins and 27 combined starts at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque. Pfeiffer will wear No. 89 and was taken by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. The left-hander was born in Vero Beach, FL and attended Indian River Community College. Solano, wearing No. 92, went 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA in 35 combined relief appearances with Single-A Inland Empire and Double-A Chattanooga.
  • THE MEDICAL NETWORK: The Dodgers’ big league medical staff has added a few members this season, as Jeremiah Randall will be the new Major League Physical Therapist and Nancy Patterson joins the big league club as an Assistant Athletic Trainer. Other medical department changes throughout the minors include Collin Eggebrecht (Minor League Physical Therapist), Yosuke Nakajima (Double-A Chattanooga Athletic Trainer), Lindsey Pyc (Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Athletic Trainer), Peter Houdek (Single-A Great Lakes Athletic Trainer), Matt Jackson (Single-A Great Lakes Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Vinny Vasquez (Rookie-level Ogden Strength and Conditioning Coach).
  • 3 HOURS: The Dodgers’ contest against the Angeles can be heard in Los Angeles on 790 KABC with Charley Steiner behind the microphone. In addition to the radio, today’s game can be seen on PRIME TICKET in high definition. Steiner’s voice will be simulcast on PRIME TICKET as well as the MLB Network.

  • WHITE SWANS: Jonathan Broxton and Clayton Kershaw were honored on Thursday night at the 6th Annual LA Sports Awards with Broxton’s save of the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim tying for the 10th-Greatest Los Angeles Sports Moment of the year and Kershaw’s first career shutout, which came on Sept. 15 at San Francisco, being recognized as the greatest Dodger moment of the season. Don Newcombe represented the Dodgers at the star-studded event at The Beverly Hilton, which was hosted by the Los Angeles Sports Council.

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