Duke Snider

Last updated
Duke Snider
Duke Snider 1953.jpg
Snider in 1953
Center fielder
Born:(1926-09-19)September 19, 1926
Los Angeles, California
Died: February 27, 2011(2011-02-27) (aged 84)
Escondido, California
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1947, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1964, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average .295
Hits 2,116
Home runs 407
Runs batted in 1,333
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1980
Vote86.49% (eleventh ballot)

Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider (September 19, 1926 – February 27, 2011), nicknamed "The Silver Fox" and "The Duke of Flatbush", was an American professional baseball player. Primarily a center fielder, he spent most of his Major League Baseball (MLB) career playing for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1947–1962), later playing one season each for the New York Mets (1963) and San Francisco Giants (1964).


Snider was named to the National League (NL) All-Star roster eight times and was the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) runner-up in 1955. In his 16 out of 18 seasons with the Dodgers, he helped lead the Dodgers to six World Series, with victories in 1955 and 1959. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.

Early life

Born in Los Angeles, Snider was nicknamed "Duke" by his father at age 5. [1] Growing up in Southern California, Snider was a gifted all-around athlete, playing basketball, football, and baseball at Compton High School, class of 1944. He was a strong-armed quarterback, who reportedly could throw the football 70 yards.

Minor leagues

Spotted by one of Branch Rickey's scouts in the early 1940s, he was signed to a baseball contract out of high school in 1943. [1] He played briefly for the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1944 (batting twice) and for the Newport News Dodgers in the Piedmont League in the same year. After serving in the U.S. Navy in 1945 and part of 1946, he came back to play for the Fort Worth Cats that year, and also for St. Paul in 1947.

Major leagues

Snider earned a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers during their spring training in 1947. He got his first major league at bat in the second Dodger's game of the 1947 season on April 17 and hit a single. He played in 39 more games that season and became a friend of Jackie Robinson before he was sent to the St. Paul team in early July. Snider returned to the Dodgers at the end of the season in time for the World Series against the New York Yankees. Snider (after spring training with the Dodgers) started the 1948 season with Montreal, and after hitting well in that league with a .327 batting average, he was called up to Brooklyn in August and played in 53 games. In 1949, Snider became a regular major leaguer hitting 23 home runs with 92 runs batted in, helping the Dodgers into the World Series. Snider also saw his average climb from .244 to .292. A more mature Snider became the "trigger man" in a power-laden lineup which boasted players Joe Black, Roy Campanella, Billy Cox, Carl Erskine, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Clem Labine, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, and Preacher Roe. Often compared with two other New York center fielders, fellow Baseball Hall of Famers, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he was the reigning "Duke" of Flatbush.

In 1950, he hit .321 and led the National League with 199 base hits and 343 total bases, earning his first All-Star Game appearance. When his average slipped to .277 in 1951 (a season when the Dodgers lost a 13‑game August lead and finished second to the Giants after Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World"), Snider was roundly criticized in the newspapers. Snider recalls, "I went to Walter O'Malley and told him I couldn't take the pressure", and, "I told him I'd just as soon be traded. I told him I figured I could do the Dodgers no good." The trade did not happen. [2]

Snider in 1954 Duke Snider 1954.png
Snider in 1954

Usually batting third in the lineup, Snider established impressive offensive numbers. He hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons (1953–1957), and between 1953 and 1956 he averaged 42 home runs, 124 RBI, 123 runs, and a .320 batting average. He led the National League (NL) in runs scored, home runs, and RBI 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 last. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 and in 1959.

Snider's career numbers declined when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Coupled with an aching knee and a 440-foot (130 m) right field fence at the cavernous Coliseum, Snider hit only 15 home runs in 1958. However, he had one last hurrah in 1959 as he helped the Dodgers win their first World Series in Los Angeles. Duke rebounded that year to hit .308 with 23 home runs and 88 RBI in 370 at bats while sharing fielding duties in right and center fields with Don Demeter and rookie Ron Fairly. 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 in future Hall of Fame pitcher (and Cy Young Award winner that year) Don Drysdale in the ninth inning of the third and deciding playoff game. Instead, Alston brought in Stan Williams to relieve a tiring Eddie Roebuck. A 4–2 lead turned into a 6–4 loss as the Giants rallied to win the pennant. Snider was subsequently 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. 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. On April 16, 1963, Snider recorded his 2,000th hit, doing so at Crosley Field against the Cincinnati Reds on a single off Jim Maloney in the 2nd inning. [3] On June 14, he recorded his 400th home run, once again against the Reds, doing so in the first inning off Bob Purkey. [4] He was named to the All-Star Game in Cleveland, his eighth and final selection. He entered the game as a pinch hitter for Tommy Davis in the top of the ninth inning. Facing Dick Radatz, he struck out looking. [5] For the season with the Mets, he appeared in 129 games while batting a slashline of .243/.345/.401, with 14 home runs, 45 RBIs, 45 walks, and 56 strikeouts. After one season, Snider asked to be traded 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. In 91 games played with the Giants, he batted a line of .210/.302/.323 while having four home runs and 17 RBIs. He had no triples for the first and only time in his career. He had 40 strikeouts and 22 walks. He appeared in three different positions for the Giants, playing 26 games in right field and 18 in left field for a combined total of 288.2 innings. He made 44 putouts, two assists with one error for a .979 fielding percentage. He retired at the end of that season.

He finished his major league career with a lifetime .295 batting average, 2,116 hits, 1,259 runs, 407 home runs, and 1,333 RBI. Defensively, he posted a .985 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions.

1955 MVP balloting controversy

Snider finished second to teammate Roy Campanella in the 1955 Most Valuable Player (MVP) balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He trailed Campanella by just five points, 226–221, with each man receiving eight first-place votes. A widely believed story, summarized in an article by columnist Tracy Ringolsby, [6] holds that a hospitalized writer from Philadelphia had turned in a ballot with Campanella listed as his first-place and fifth-place vote. It was assumed that the writer had meant to write Snider's name into one of those slots. Unable to get a clarification from the ill writer, the BBWAA considered disallowing the ballot but decided to accept it, counting the first-place vote for Campanella and counting 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.

Sportswriter Joe Posnanski, however, has suggested that this story is not entirely true. [7] Posnanski writes that there was a writer who did leave Snider off his ballot and write in Campanella's name twice, but it was in first and sixth positions, not first and fifth. Had Snider received the sixth place vote, the final tally would have created a tie, not a win for Snider. Additionally, the position wasn't discarded — everyone lower on the ballot was moved up a spot, and pitcher Jack Meyer was inserted at the bottom with a 10th place vote.

Snider did 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 BBWAA as the National League's best player of 1955. [8]

Player statistics

1955Games PA AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO OBP SLG BA Fld%

Later life

Following his retirement from baseball, Snider became a popular and respected TV/radio analyst and play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1971 and for the Montreal Expos from 1973 to 1986. He was characterized by a mellow, low-key style.

Robert Young and Snider in Father Knows Best, 1956 Robert Young Duke Snider Father Knows Best 1956.jpg
Robert Young and Snider in Father Knows Best , 1956

Snider occasionally took acting roles, sometimes appearing in television or films as himself or as a professional baseball player. He played himself in "Hero Father" (1956) in the Robert Young television series Father Knows Best , made one guest appearance on the Chuck Connors television series The Rifleman , and played Wallace in The Retired Gun (1959). Other appearances include an uncredited part as a Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder in The Geisha Boy (1958), the Cranker in The Trouble with Girls (1969), and a Steamer Fan in Pastime (1990). As recently as 2007, he was featured in Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush . [9]

In 1995, Snider and Willie McCovey pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges. According to the charges, they had failed to report income from sports card shows and memorabilia sales. [10] [11]

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", [12] and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Snider married Beverly Null in 1947; they had four children.

Snider died on February 27, 2011, at age 84 of an undisclosed illness at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, California. [13] He was the last living Brooklyn Dodger who was on the field for the final out of the 1955 World Series.

MLB highlights

Some of Snider's MLB achievements:


See also

Related Research Articles

Roy Campanella American baseball player

Roy Campanella, nicknamed "Campy", was an American baseball player, primarily as a catcher. The Philadelphia native played in the Negro leagues and Mexican League for 9 years before entering the minor leagues in 1946. He made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 1948 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he played until 1957. His playing career ended when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in January 1958. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game.

Gil Hodges American baseball player and manager

Gilbert Ray Hodges, neHodge was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman and manager who played most of his 18-year career for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1982.

Shawn Green American baseball player

Shawn David Green is an American former Major League Baseball right-fielder. Green was a 1st round draft pick and a two-time major league All-Star. He drove in 100 runs four times and scored 100 runs four times, hit 40 or more home runs three times, led the league in doubles, extra base hits, and total bases, won both a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award, and set the Dodgers single-season record in home runs. Green was also in the top five in the league in home runs, RBIs, intentional walks, and MVP voting.

Jeff Kent American baseball player

Jeffrey Franklin Kent is an American former professional baseball second baseman. He played seventeen seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1992 to 2008 for the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Eddie Murray American baseball player

Eddie Clarence Murray, nicknamed "Steady Eddie," is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman and designated hitter. Spending most of his MLB career with the Baltimore Orioles, he ranks fourth in team history in both games played and hits. Though Murray never won a Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, he finished in the top ten in MVP voting several times. After his playing career, Murray coached for the Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Carl Furillo American baseball player

Carl Anthony Furillo, nicknamed "The Reading Rifle" and "Skoonj", was an American professional baseball right fielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB), spending his entire career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. A member of seven National League (NL) champions from 1947 to 1959 inclusive, Furillo batted over .300 five times, winning the 1953 batting title, with a .344 average — then the highest by a right-handed hitting Dodger since 1900. Noted for his strong and accurate throwing arm, he recorded 10 or more assists in nine consecutive seasons, leading the league twice, and retired with the fifth-most games in right field (1,408) in NL history.

Johnny Mize American baseball player

John Robert Mize, nicknamed Big Jawn and The Big Cat, was an American professional baseball player, coach and scout. He played as a first baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 15 seasons between 1936 and 1953, losing three seasons to military service during World War II. Mize was a ten-time All-Star who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and the New York Yankees. During his tenure with the Yankees, the team won five consecutive World Series.

Ted Kluszewski American baseball player

Theodore Bernard Kluszewski, also known as "Big Klu", was an American professional baseball player from 1947 through 1961 with four teams. He spent 11 of his 15 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Cincinnati Reds as a first baseman. His 10 RBI with the Chicago White Sox in the 1959 World Series are a major record in a six-game set.

1952 World Series

The 1952 World Series featured the 3-time defending champions New York Yankees beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games. The Yankees won their 4th consecutive title, tying the mark they set in 1936–1939 under manager Joe McCarthy, and Casey Stengel became the second manager in Major League history with 4 consecutive World Series championships. This was the Yankees' 15th World Series championship win, and the 3rd time they defeated the Dodgers in 6 years.

1955 World Series

The 1955 World Series matched the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees, with the Dodgers winning the Series in seven games to capture their first championship in franchise history. It would be the only Series the Dodgers won while based in Brooklyn, as the team relocated to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. This was the fifth time in nine years that the Yankees and the Dodgers met in the World Series, with the Yankees having won in 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953; the Yankees would also win in the 1956 rematch.

Ken Boyer American baseball player and manager

Kenton Lloyd "Ken" Boyer was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) third baseman, coach and manager who played on the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers for 15 seasons, 1955 through 1969.

Tommy Davis (outfielder) American baseball player

Herman Thomas Davis Jr. is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a left fielder and third baseman from 1959 to 1976 for ten different teams, most notably for the Los Angeles Dodgers where he was a two-time National League batting champion.

In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally fulfilled the promise of many previous Dodger teams. Although the club had won several pennants in the past, and had won as many as 105 games in 1953, it had never won a World Series. This team finished 13.5 games ahead in the National League pennant race, leading the league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed. In the 1955 World Series, they finally beat their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. It was the Dodgers first and only World Series championship won while located in Brooklyn.

Richard Benjamin Gray was an American professional baseball player. He was an infielder in Major League Baseball, playing mainly as a third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals from 1958 through 1960. Listed at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and 165 pounds (75 kg), he batted and threw right handed.

The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers edged out the Milwaukee Braves to win the National League title. The Dodgers again faced the New York Yankees in the World Series. This time they lost the series in seven games, one of which was a perfect game by the Yankees' Don Larsen.

The 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers season was the first season for new manager Walter Alston, who replaced Chuck Dressen, who had been fired during a contract dispute. Alston led the team to a 92–62 record, finishing five games behind the league champion New York Giants.

The 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers repeated as National League champions by posting a 105–49 record. However, Brooklyn again failed to capture the World Series, losing in six games to the American League champion New York Yankees.

The 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers rebounded from the heartbreaking ending of 1951 to win the National League pennant by four games over the New York Giants. However, they dropped the World Series in seven games to the New York Yankees. Led by Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, and Duke Snider, the high-powered Brooklyn offense scored the most runs in the majors.

The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers led the National League for much of the season, holding a 13-game lead as late as August. However, a late season swoon and a hot streak by the New York Giants led to a classic three-game playoff series. Bobby Thomson's dramatic ninth-inning home run off Dodger reliever Ralph Branca in the final game won the pennant for the Giants and was immortalized as the Shot Heard 'Round the World.

Leo Durocher returned as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers to start the 1948 season but was fired in mid-season. He was replaced first by team coach Ray Blades and then by Burt Shotton, who had managed the team to the 1947 pennant. The Dodgers finished third in the National League after this tumultuous season.


  1. 1 2 Jackson, Tony. Hall of Famer Duke Snider, 84, dies. ESPN.com. 2011-02-11.
  2. Stump, Al. "Duke Snider's Story". Sport Magazine Article. SPORT magazine. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  3. https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN196304160.shtml
  4. https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN196306140.shtml
  5. https://www.baseball-reference.com/allstar/1963-allstar-game.shtml
  6. Fox Sports. "Ringolsby: Don't forget the Duke". FOX Sports.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-03-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. The Duke of Flatbush by Duke Snider and Bill Gilbert
  9. "The Rifleman – The Retired Gun, Episode 17, Season 1". Archived from the original on 2012-03-02.
  10. Lupica, Mike (1995). "The Duke muffs an easy one". The Sporting News.
  11. Sexton, Joe (July 21, 1995). "Tax Fraud: Two Baseball Legends Say It's So". The New York Times.
  12. "100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac".
  13. Goldstein, Richard; Weber, Bruce (February 27, 2011). "Duke Snider, a Prince of New York's Golden Age of Baseball, Dies at 84". The New York Times.
  14. "Snider, Duke". Baseball Hall of Fame . Retrieved May 2, 2019.