We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I grew up in "nose bleed" at Ebbets Field, and Duke Snider was my hero and the hero of Brooklyn. I had his autograph, but my mother tossed it when she (finally) cleaned my room while I was in Vietnam. But I never lost my adoration. Last week I was at batting cages with Jason where Duke Snider's jersey, bat and photos are prominently displayed. The owner and I reminisced for an hour while Jason listened. After, Jason said to me, "He must have been some kind of hero for you to look up to him." At 84, the Duke of Flatbush left our field today, and remains in our hearts.
The New York Post quotes Snider: " 'If I live to be 100 years old,' he said in 2002, 'I'll always be able to remember what it felt to be young and a ballplayer in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I'll always remember what it meant to be a champion of the world there.' "
The Duke lived out his years in Fallbrook, about 20-miles from where I live now. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, after a game, Duke Snider would sometimes come out of the ballpark to play stickball in the street with us kids. The San Diego Union-Tribunerecalls:
Duke Snider played center in Ebbets Field and stickball on the streets of Brooklyn....Snider hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two championships. But the eight-time All-Star was defined by much more than his stats - he was, after all, part of the love affair between Brooklyn and "Dem Bums" who lived in the local neighborhoods....Snider is the Dodgers' franchise leader in home runs (389) and RBIs (1,271). He led all major leaguers in the 1950s with 326 homers and 1,031 RBIs....
Snider hit .309 with 42 homers and a career-high 136 RBIs in 1955. That October, he hit four homers, drove in seven runs and hit .320 as the Dodgers beat the Yankees in a seven-game Series.
For a team that kept preaching "Wait till next year" after World Series losses to the Yankees in 1953, '52, '49, '47 and '41, it was indeed next year. A generation later, long after they'd all grown old, those Dodgers were lauded as the "Boys of Summer" in Roger Kahn's book....
A durable slugger with a strong arm, good instincts on the bases and a regal style, Snider hit the last home run at Ebbets Field in 1957....
A native Californian, Snider became part of Brooklyn's fabric during his playing days. "I was born in Los Angeles," he once said. "Baseballwise, I was born in Brooklyn. We lived with Brooklyn. We died with Brooklyn."
The Duke of Flatbush will always live in the lore of Brooklyn.
I remember having to go to Stix, Baer & Fuller one night in 1963 in St. Louis. We were listening to the Cardinals playing the Mets in New York. It was the last of the ninth, the Cards were up 2-0, but the Mets had two on and Snider was up. Ron Taylor was pitching in relief for St. Louis. Snider hit a three run homer to win the game. I don't know why the end of that game was etched into my memory. I do remember being absolutely furious with Taylor for serving up that home run pitch.
In grade school, I read a biography of Snider. The only part I remember was the part where he attended a tryout for Brooklyn as a teenager. He was horsing around on the bench with another kid, a coach saw it and told Snider to gather his stuff and get out, his tryout was over. Snider appealed to another coach and he was allowed to stay, and the rest they say, is history.
I always wondered what would have happened had Snider meekly submitted to the first coach and left the tryout?
My first (real) baseball glove was a hand me down from my father, a 3-finger Duke Snider. You were supposed to put your two middle fingers in the one in the middle. Flat as a pancake, the thumb and fingers were probably 2" diameter. I couldn't wait to get one like the other kids that actually folded.
Little league baseball fans may find this interesting- I played in an "industrial league" for my dad's company- North American Aviation. The intramural division had teams named for aircraft- B-70s, A3Js, X15s and my team, F100-Fs. Later when I made it to the bigs I was on one of the two "traveling" teams (though I never heard that term til my kids came along)- the Vigilantes. We played other local industrial teams like Jeffrey Mining, Timken Roller Bearing, Owens Illinois, General Motors, and others I can't remember.
Funny you don't see that kind of activity anymore. When I was growing up in Wisconsin, I played in the Newspaper League - I played with the Sentinels and one of my best friend in school played on the Journals. One of the highlights of my young life was being named to the league's All-Star team and playing the Chicago "Tribunes". :>)
You're right - good times - good times. Its also why I love baseball - my favorite sport.
I have some wonderful memories of Milwaukee County Stadium and the arrival of the Boston Braves to Milwaukee in 1953. My Dad being a news man, wrangled tickets and I got to sit in the Press Box from time-to-time and watch games.
To bring this around to The Duke, I was Bat Boy for one of his last games in 1957. My Dad got an autograph from him and it's one of my treasured mementos of that time. I also have a team ball signed after they won the series from the Yankees and a special ball signed by Hank Aaron and Lew Burdette.
Wow - great memories I haven't talked about for a long time. Thanks for the post.
Duke Snider was the first major league baseball player I ever heard of and always was my favorite. I have an autographed picture of Mr. Snider in a Mets uniform at spring training and a postcard signed by Walter O'Mally of Mr. Snider at the Coliseum. Mr. Snider is in a right-handed batter's stance. A great player and a well-spoken man.