|Played for Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-57), Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-62), New York Mets (1963), San Francisco Giants (1964)
All-Star 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1963
1955 Major League Player of the Year
The advent of television coincided with the coming of age of the Dodger center fielder, Edwin "Duke" Snider, who more than any other Dodger benefited from the small rectangular box that was invading living rooms, bedrooms, stores, and bars in Brooklyn and across America. He was young, handsome, and he had a winning smile. Almost overnight the prematurely silver-haired Duke Snider became Brooklyn's matinee idol.
....Snider had grown up in Los Angeles, played only one full season in the minors, in 1944, and after two years in the service played for St. Paul the tag end of 1947 and in 1948 for Montreal, where he drove in seventy-seven runs in seventy-seven games .... Snider had raw talent [and] had a powerful swing at the plate ....
The Duke played with intensity and abandon, and his physical skills were exceptional. When a ball stayed in the ballpark, the Duke would find a way to catch it. The parks then had different nooks and crannies and stands jutting out on the field, and in an old stadium like Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium, where a player could jump up and catch balls that would have been in the third or fourth row, Duke would make plays that were otherwordly, running full speed and never getting hurt and leaping and hitting the wall and amazing the fans by catching the balls that would have been home runs.
And starting in 1953, the first of five consecutive years when he hit forty or more home runs, Duke Snider was regarded as the premier power hitter on what some regard as the most powerful lineup ever to grace a National League diamond. At Ebbets Field he hit towering home runs into Bedford Avenue, and every once in a while he would send the baseball clear across the street, clattering through the plate glass windows of Dodger Dodge. Any left-handed kid growing up in Brooklyn wore number 4 on the back of his t-shirt and demanded that he play center field on his team.
....BILL REDDY: "There were only two center fielders in Metropolitan New York, Duke Snider and [the New York Giants'] Willie Mays. Whenever we debated about the greatest center fielder, Mantle's name was in there, you had to put it in, but Mantle was just a name you threw in as a sop to the Yankee fans that might be listening. Believe me, Mantle never figured in at all, not one iota. It was Snider and Mays, and every day we would scan the papers to see which guy made the most spectacular catch or the most hits that day...."
Duke, like so many of the players, lived in Brooklyn. He was one of dem, and there were times when he would come home after a ballgame and play stickball with the kids in the street.
The fans loved him, though they sensed he was flawed. Somehow they knew he hated to hit against left-handed pitchers, and they knew that in October Mantle's team won and his team didn't. In the backs of their minds always was the disquieting sense that no matter how good Snider was, somehow he should be better. Which demonstrated the perspicacity of the Dodger fans. For during his entire career, Snider fretted and worried about the same thing. When Snider was on the field, winning was all he thought about. He was consumed with the notion of winning, for to him losing was a sign of personal weakness. An error was a sign of weakness. Striking out was a sign of weakness ....
....Duke Snider, who personified the Dodger power, ironically had an inferiority complex. As a batter he had expected to get a hit every single time at bat, and when didn't he would sulk. If an opposing fielder made a great play on a long hit, he would complain to the heavens about his bad luck. For his entire career, Duke Snider carried on in this manner, always raging and decrying his luck. It had been Snider whose rope into center field should have won the pennant for the Dodgers in 1950. Except that Cal Abrams got thrown out at home. Typical Snider luck. As great as he was, no matter how well he was doing, Duke Snider always felt that his luck should have been better.
Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers
...Snider was baseball's most prolific home run hitter of the 1950s, clouting 326 round-trippers in the decade. Included in the total were five straight seasons of 40 or more and a league-leading 43 in 1956. He drove in 100 runs six times, with an NL high of 136 in 1955. He also scored 100 runs six times, including three straight league-leading totals. Although he struck out more than any other league batter three times, Snider was no all-or-nothing hitter. He paced the league in hits in 1950, averaged better than .300 seven times, and ended his career at .295 only because of his final desultory seasons. In both the 1952 and 1955 World Series he hit four home runs. While not gifted with the speed of a Mays or mantle and given to allowing hits to roll out to him, he was an exceptional defensive outfielder. His leaping catch of a Yogi Berra drive against the Yankee Stadium auxiliary scoreboard in the fifth game in 1952 ranks as one of the greatest World Series fielding plays.
Nobody was more affected than Snider by the Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. Instead of Ebbets Field's friendly right field wall, he had to deal with the Yellowstone distances of the Coliseum, and he tailed off precipitously. After some time in a platoon role with the Dodgers, he was sold to the Mets in a gate-appeal move by the expansion New York franchise .... The outfielder ended his 18-year career in 1964 with a short stint with the Giants.
....In 1956 he attracted attention for telling Collier's magazine that he played baseball for money. The declaration horrified baseball executives and sportswriters for, as one of them put it, "disillusioning young fans."
--Donald Dewey & Nicholas Acocella
The New Biographical History of Baseball
Snider hit the last home run recorded at Ebbets Field, on September 22, 1957.
Snider is the Dodgers franchise record-holder for home runs (389), RBIs (1,271) and extra-base hits (814).