Feb 28, 2020
February 27, 2011 — The “Duke of Flatbush”, Hall of Famer Duke Snider dies in Escondido, CA at age 84. Snider was a power-hitting centerfielder for the great Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the 1950s and is immortalized in Terry Cashman’s song “Willie, Mickey and the Duke”.
Snider was Brooklyn’s entry into one of the most passionate debates in baseball history. New York sportswriter Red Smith once wrote, “(Duke) Snider, (Mickey) Mantle, and (Willie) Mays. You could get a fat lip in any saloon by starting an argument as to which was the best.”
Sharing the big city spotlight with fellow future Hall of Fame centerfielders Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, Snider was part of a magical period in New York baseball that saw a team from the nation’s largest city win the World Series in nine out of the 10 seasons between 1949 and 1958. The Dodgers appeared in the Fall Classic five times during that time, winning their only championship in Brooklyn in 1955. Although the Dodger lineup also featured other outstanding performers such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Gil Hodges throughout much of the period, no one on the team wielded a more potent bat than Snider. And, even though the Brooklyn centerfielder usually came out third best in comparisons to Mays and Mantle, Snider hit more home runs during the 1950s (326) than any other player in baseball.
Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner once noted, “I’d say Duke covers more ground, wastes less motion, and is more consistent than anyone since DiMaggio.” And Stan Musial named Snider, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron as his all-time National League outfield.
What could have been – after the failed playoff series in 1951 Snider later recalled, “I went to Walter O’Malley and told him I couldn’t take the pressure. I told him I’d just as soon be traded. I told him I figured I could do the Dodgers no good.”