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.
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.”
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.”