Duke Snider, 1926-2011

February 27, 2011

I grew up in Southern California.  My first trip to a major league game was one of the two 1959 all-star games, played in Los Angeles Coliseum, just before I turned 8.   Don Drysdale started for the NL.  The game ended with Wally Moon striking out.  The Coliseum was not well suited for baseball, we must have been 550′ or so from home plate.

And a Dodger fan I became.  (I go with the flow and so since then Giants when in northern California, Padres when in San Diego, never quite bonded with Boston, and eventually the Mariners in the AL and the Giants in the NL).

Some awesome players and awesome teams.  Including Duke.  And so losing Gil Hodges to the expansion Mets in 1962 was a blow, but the trade of Snider in 1963 to the Mets was a real kick.  I recognize now that his career was in decline and four decades later we certainly know baseball is a business.  But his May 22 home run against the Dodgers sticks in my mind: first at-bat against them, Drysdale pitching for the Dodgers.  Take that O’Malley!  (Dodgers won 7-3).  (Again appreciative of baseball-reference.com to remind me of the details.)

Thanks Duke.  The golden age of baseball for me…

(An update 2/27 at 16:09.  Reader Ron’s comment is of course right, the move of the Dodgers and Giants was a much more real kick.)