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Duke Snider ~ 1924-2011

In the 1950s New York City had three baseball teams, and those teams had centerfielders named Mays, Mantle, and Snider. Edwin "Duke" Snider, the Duke of Flatbush, patrolled the yard at Ebbets Field for the Dodgers from 1947 (debuting two games after Jackie Robinson) until the team decamped for Los Angeles in 1958, 11 charmed seasons that included the team's only World Series Championship in Brooklyn, a heroic defeat of the Yankees in '55 in which the Duke blasted 4 home runs.

Playing in an outer borough for a team of perennial bridesmaids, Snider never quite achieved the broad, iconic acclaim of his rival centerfielders. But not only did he out-slug Mantle and Mays while they all played in New York, he boasted the gaudiest numbers of anyone in the game in the '50s -- his home run (326), RBI (1,031), and slugging (.569) numbers in that golden decade were unsurpassed.

In 1958 he followed the team to Los Angeles, but the dimensions of the Dodgers' temporary home at the L.A. Coliseum (490 down the right-field line, compared to a cozy 297 at Ebbets) contributed to sagging offensive production for the left-hand-hitting slugger. In 1963 he was traded to the Mets and the following year, in one of the saddest demises in the history of the game, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants, where he played his final year. To this day he remains one of only a handful of ballplayers to have passed through that organization unbesmirched by its vile stank.

So today we salute you, Duke. You were a hero among legends, and now a legend among the immortals.

Bonus Question: What do Duke Snider, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E have in common? A: They're all straight outta Compton. Snider was Compton High class of '44.

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