Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers1947-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers1958-1962; New York Mets 1963; San Francisco Giants 1964
There was an unprecedented concentration of talent in center field in New York in the 1950s. The Yankees had Mickey Mantle, the Giants had Willie Mays, and in Brooklyn, Duke Snider was king. In the four years the three played together, Duke took a back seat to no one. From 1954 to 1957, Snider had the most homers and RBI of the three, and he totaled more homers and more RBI than any player in the 1950s.
An outstanding athlete as a youth in Compton, California, Edwin Donald Snider (born in 1926) signed with the Dodgers in 1944 after high school, leading the Piedmont League in home runs. He served in the Navy in 1945 and part of 1946, coming back to the Texas League for part of that season.
Duke Snider became the first slugger in
history to bang out 40 homers without
totaling at least 100 RBI.
The Duke played his first game for the Dodgers in the same week in 1947 that Jackie Robinson did. Snider batted only .241 with 24 strikeouts in 83 at bats in Brooklyn before he was sent down. In 1948, Snider spent most of the season in Montreal rather than Brooklyn. Branch Rickey put Duke through a strict regime to learn the strike zone, having him stand and watch pitch after pitch go by without swinging.
When he mastered the strike zone, Snider became the left-handed power for the Boys of Summer. He hit .292 with 23 homers in 1949, and led the NL with 199 base hits while getting 31 homers in 1950. He led the league in runs scored in 1953, ’54, and ’55. He joined Babe Ruth and Ralph Kiner as the only men to ever hit at least 40 homers in five straight seasons (from 1953 to 1957). Snider’s streak ended in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to the L.A. Coliseum with its vast right field.
The Duke was a regular on six Dodgers pennant winners, turning in awesome World Series performances. He hit four homers twice in World Series competition -- once in the Dodgers’ first world championship when they beat the hated Yankees in 1955. He was an outstanding center fielder with an amazingly powerful arm. He ranks fourth on the all-time World Series home run list with 11.
Duke played in the 1959 World Series, but he injured his knee and was reduced to part-time play in 1960. In 1961, he broke his elbow, and he was never again a dominating player. He spent a year with the Mets in 1963, enjoying his familiar New York but not enjoying the Mets, and retired after a year with the Giants in 1964. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Here are Duke Snider's major league totals:
| BA||G||AB||R||H|| 2B|| 3B||HR || RBI||SB |
|.295||2,143||7,161||1,259||2,116 ||358||85 || 407||1,333 || 99|
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