Duke Snider, Dodgers CF for 16 seasons, Hall Of Famer and World Series champion with the Brooklyn in 1955 and Los Angeles in 1959, passed away earlier today in Escondido, California. A 7-time All Star and the Dodgers’ all-time leader in home runs (389 and RBI’s (1271) is eulogized by the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden who reminds us, “the debate as to who was the best center fielder in New York during that period – Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Snider – will go on for eternity.”
Brooklyn’s case for Snider was always made on his clutch hits, World Series home run feats and his spectacular outfield play. In 1949, Snider’s first full season in the big leagues, in which he hit .292 with 23 homers and 92 RBI after taking over in center field for the injured Pete Reiser, his tie-breaking 10th-inning RBI single against the Philadelphia Phillies won the pennant for the Dodgers on the final day of the season. A year later, in almost identical circumstances, the pennant came down to the last day of the season against the Phillies and Snider, who hit .321 with 31 homers, 107 RBI and a league-leading 199 hits in 1950, again came through with a ninth-inning single that would have broken a 1-1 tie had Cal Abrams, who was on second, not been thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from Phillie center fielder Richie Ashburn. The “Whiz Kid” Phillies then went to win the game – and the pennant – on a home run by Dick Sisler in the bottom of the inning.