Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers great and hall of famer Edwin Donald “Duke” Snider passed away on Sunday from natural causes at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, CA at the age of 84. The outfielder played from 1947-1964 including 15 years with the Dodgers, one season with the New York Mets in 1963, and his last season in the majors with the San Francisco Giants in 1964.
Born in Los Angeles in 1926 and graduating straight out of Compton High in 1944, Snider, who was also known as “The Silver Fox” and “The Duke of Flatbush” went on to be one of the true Dodgers greats. His named is often mentioned in the same conversation with Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese. Snider was an eight-time all-star, was on two World Series championship teams in 1955 and 1955, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of fame in 1980. The Dodgers also retired his number 4 jersey.
Snider was a force as a player with a career batting average of .295 with 407 home runs and 1,333 runs batted in. Amazingly he still holds the Dodgers all-time home run record with 389, strikeouts with 1,123 and extra base hits with 814. He is still the only player to hit four or more home runs in two different World Series in 1952 and 1955.
Snider also holds the Dodgers single-season record for most intentional walks with 26 in 1956. He is one of only two players in the majors with over 1,000 RBI in the 1950’s. A record he shares with Dodgers teammate Gil Hodges.
Snider finished in the top 10 in the National League’s Most Valuable Player voting six times, but never won it. The closest he came was in second in 1955 losing out to teammate Campanella by just five points 226-221. According to research (done by moi), Campanella and Snider received eight first place votes each from the Baseball Writers Association of America. But some writer from Philadelphia was hospitalized and according to him mistakenly gave first place vote to Campanella instead of Snider. A fifth place vote was given to Snider and since the sick writer wasn’t able to clarify the mistake, the fifth place vote was considered blank by the BBWAA. Had there been clarification, Snider would have won 221-212. If Snider would have received the fifth place vote he would have won 227-226.
As a consolation prize, Snider was awarded the Sporting News National League Player of the Year.
On a darker note, Snider and Giants hall of famer Willie McCovey pleaded guilty of federal tax fraud charges due to not reporting income from sports card shows and memorabilia sales.
Snider is also the subject of three great books. He and Bill Gilbert co-authored The Duke Of Flatbush in 1988; The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn in 1972; and The Duke Snider Story by Irwin Winehouse in 1964.