Sunday, February 27, 2011

The One and Only Duke of Flatbush

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, Duke Snider, the great centerfielder who died Sunday, was in the twilight of his career, leaving his glory days behind in the memory of Ebbets Field and the Boys of Summer.
Snider's performance output in Los Angeles was spotty at best. He had trouble with a knee and he injured his arm trying to throw a ball out of the L.A. Coliseum on a bet. The stunt put him out of the lineup, and also in the doghouse with Walter O'Malley and Buzzie Bavasi.
For four seasons, he struggled to hit home runs over the right-field fence in the cavernous Coliseum. After the 1962 season, in which the Dodgers lost the NL pennant in a three-game playoff series with the San Francisco Giants, Snider was traded to the N.Y. Mets, and finished his career with the Giants.
One of the best things Snider did was to help the new arrivals from Brooklyn be accepted by the Los Angeles press corp. According to the late Dan Hafner, who covered the team upon its arrival in L.A., the New York writers told the Dodger players before they left Brooklyn not to trust the sports writers in Los Angeles, that they were an unfriendly, creepy lot.
Snider, who was from Southern California along with other players such as Don Drysdale (Van Nuys High School), didn't believe the New York rhetoric, and made a point of befriending several of the beat writers including, Hafner and the L.A. Times' Frank Finch.

No comments:

Post a Comment