For most of my 1984 interview, a subdued Duke Snider, appeared distant. Like he was just going through the motions. Yet the baseball legend was quite cordial. He played for one team his entire career: The Brooklyn Dodgers, which moved to Los Angeles while Snider was still a Dodger.
As a former San Diego-based newspaper reporter, I decided to write a book about the legendary ballplayer. Access to the Duke was surprisingly easy. A Los Angeles native, Snider spent his final years living in Escondido, just 30 miles north of San Diego, where I live.
For the interview, Duke wore Dodger blue slacks. Once he relaxed, Snider talked about the past as if it was the present. Of course, I asked about the team’s move from Brooklyn to L.A.
He mentioned that a “young woman” who was a neighbor who had “already written two chapters” of a book on him. He asked me for my opinion on the chapters. I was not enamored of the draft chapters, but then again it was only a draft. Of course, I was careful not to be negative. Also, he did not divulge her name.
At the time of my interview, Snider was a broadcaster for the Montreal Expos. He spent 1973 to 1986 as the club’s broadcaster. His first gig in Montreal played briefly on the minor league Montreal Royals for a year (1944). At the time, he was 17. Shortly after, he joined the Newport News Dodgers.
And right after the briminor league stints, Snider served
On May 28, 1957, National League owners voted unanimously to allow the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to move to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, at the mid-season owner’s meeting in Chicago, Illinois. General Manager Buzzie “Bavasi’s never been quoted” about the move, Snider pointed out.
Snider supported teammate Jackie Robinson, the first person of color to make the Majors, Duke stated, he and Jackie “never talked about it.” Yet Snider made clear that he supported Jackie’s move to the Majors.
Four years before my treasured time with Duke, he had been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. Why? Check out just a few of his incredible stats.
- 8-time NL All-Star (1950-1956 & 1963)
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1956)
- 2-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1953 & 1956)
- 2-time NL OPS Leader (1953 & 1956)
- 3-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1953-1955)
- NL Hits Leader (1950)
- 3-time NL Total Bases Leader (1950, 1953 & 1954)
- NL Home Runs Leader (1956)
- NL RBI Leader (1955)
- NL Bases on Balls Leader (1956)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (1949-1957 & 1959)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1950 & 1953-1957)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1953-1957)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 6 (1950, 1951 & 1953-1956)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 6 (1949, 1950 & 1953-1956)
- Won two World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers(1955) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1980
As a youngster growing up in Massachusetts, I had his baseball card. Well, one of the many iterations of Snider’s baseball card.
The Duke of Flatbush, a popular book about Snider, was written by Bill Gilbert with an introduction by former Dodger teammate, starting pitcher Carl Erskine. Snider’s other nickname: “The Silver Fox.”
At the age of 84, Duke Snider passed away in 2011.
And what I’ve my book proposal? The literary agency that showed interest in the project, but it shut down not long after my time with the Duke.