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Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers 1949 Bowman Reprint Baseball Card

Duke Snider was a gifted all around athlete and strong armed quarterback at Compton high school who could reportedly throw the football 60 yards on the fly. Spotted by one of Branch Rickey's bird dog scouts in the early 1940s, he was signed to a baseball contract out of high school. He played briefly for Montreal in the International League in 1944 (batting twice) and for the Newport News in the Piedmont League in the same year. Serving in the military in 1945, he came back to play for Fort Worth in 1946 and for St Paul in 1947. He played well and earned a shot with the Big Club (Brooklyn) later that year. He started the next season (1948) with Montreal and after tearing up that league with a .327 batting average, he was called up to Brooklyn during mid season for good.

In 1949 Duke Snider came into his own, hitting 23 home runs accompanied with 92 runs batted in, also helping the Dodgers break into the World Series. Snider also saw his average rise from .244 to a respectable .292 and then .321 in 1950. But when it slipped to .277 in 1951 and the Dodgers squandered a 13-game lead to lose the NL pennant to the New York Giants, Duke Snider received heavy media criticism and requested a trade.

"I went to Walter O'Malley and told him I couldn't take the pressure," Duke Snider was quoted in the September 1955 issue of SPORT magazine. "I told him I'd just as soon be traded. I told him I figured I could do the Dodgers no good."

From 1947 to 1956, Brooklyn ruled the National League. They benefited greatly from a network of minor league teams created by Branch Rickey in the early 40's. It is here when the system called the "Dodger Way" of teaching fundamentals took root. From that large network of teams, a number of young talented players began to blossom at the same time: Snider, Hodges, Erskine, Ralph Branca, Clem Labine, Furillo, Campanella, Don Newcombe, Joe Black and Jim Gilliam.

By 1949, Duke Snider, as he matured, became the trigger man in a power laden line-up which boasted the likes of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Carl Furillo. Often compared favorably with 2 other NY center fielders, Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he was the reigning "Duke" of Flatbush. Usually batting third in the line-up, Snider earned his sobriquet by putting up some tremendous offensive numbers on the board: He hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons (1953-57) and averaged 42 home runs, 124 RBI's, 123 runs and a .320 batting average between 1953-1956. He appeared in 6 World Series with the Dodgers (1949, 1952-53, 1955-56, 1959), facing the New York Yankees in the first five and the Chicago White Sox in the final. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 and 1959. Snider hit 2 home runs and had 4 rbi's on the final day of the 1956 season to help the Dodgers win 8-6 and secure a pennant win by one game over Milwaukee - their last Brooklyn pennant as it turned out. Snider, in 1957, became the 3rd player to hit 40 or more home runs at least 5 years in a row - joining Babe Ruth and Ralph Kiner. The feat was not accomplished again for more than 40 years (Ken Griffey, Jr.). Snider led the NL in runs 3 consecutive years to tie the league record held by several players. (The major league record is 5 consecutive years, held by Ted Williams in the 1940's). Snider became the only Dodger (Brooklyn or Angeles) to lead the league in home runs (1955) and rbi's (1954) in separate seasons. Dolph Camilli led in both in the same year (1941), Snider's 43 home runs in 1956 was the Dodger franchise record until Shawn Green hit 49 home runs in 2002 (Adrian Beltre had 48 in 2004). Snider led the league 3 times each in runs scored and total bases, twice in slugging percentage, and also led in once each in hits and walks besides his home run and rbi titles.

Duke Snider Career Stats

Duke Snider Bowman 1949 Reprint Baseball Card(HOF Link)

1949 Bowman Duke Snider Reprint Card

"Man, if I made one million dollars I would come in at six in the morning, sweep the stands, wash the uniforms, clean out the office, manage the team and play the games".

"Swing hard, in case they throw the ball where you're swinging".--

Duke Snider

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