The Dodgers Lose Their Duke

Dodger Hall of Fame outfielder and all-time home runs leader Duke Snider. 84, died Sunday morning at the age of 84 at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif.

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. He slugged 11 home runs in series play, including four in each the 1952

and 1955 World Series, the latter series the Dodgers first and last in Brooklyn during which he hit .320 with seven RBIs in the seven-game victory over the Yankees.

Forever coupled with Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle in the popular song, "Willie, Mickey and the Duke," he out homered both of them as well as all other major leaguers in the decade of the 1950s with 326 homers and 1,031 RBIs.

A knee injury cut his career short and after slugging 40 or more home runs in the 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 seasons while in Brooklyn, his best was 23 in Los Angeles in 1959. The injury and the vast space in right field in the Los Angeles Coliseum also cut down on his remarkable power.

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 was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 and his Dodger uniform No. 4 was retired that year in Oldtimers Day ceremonies that featured Snider entering the ballpark from beyond the center field fence, accompanied by Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays, two other great outfielders of Snider's time.

In 16 years with the Dodgers, he batted .300 with a .385 on-base percentage and scored 1,199 runs. He retired after 1964 with a career average of .295 with 407 home runs and 1,333 RBIs.

Snider was sold to the New York Mets before the 1963 season, then to the San Francisco Giants a year later.

Following his playing career, Snider returned to the Dodger organization as a minor league manager. He later joined the Montreal Expos as a broadcaster and batting coach.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Statements from the Dodgers
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."

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