A Sad Day: "The Duke is Gone"

February 27, 2011

Hello Sports Fans,

It's a sad day today: The Duke is gone!

Duke Snider, Dodgers Hall of Famer, Dies at 84

Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider (September 19, 1926 - February 27, 2011)

I wish you a day of happy memories,

Jan

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Jan wrote:

The Yanks, just down the street? NOT! 

I was a Dodger fan.

My favorites were Campy, Pee Wee, Carl Furilllo, the Preacher, and of course, The Duke.

Do you remember walking across the shuttle bridge from Highbridge to see baseball games at the Polo Grounds? 

How many polo matches were held at the Polo Grounds?

What is the name of the Harlem neighborhood near the Polo Grounds?

What section of Brooklyn was Ebbets Field? 

Into what street did the Duke hit his homers?

And, finally, why did the Dodgers move to LAX?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebbets_Field

Remember, at our age, "Wait til next year" is not an option.


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Hi Guys,

I got several responses from my note about The Duke. I thought you'd like to see them.
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Jeff Zupan responded to my original letter:

I was a Dodger fan.
me too

My favorites were Campy, Pee Wee, Carl Furilllo, the Preacher, and of course, The Duke.
Jackie. Read "After Jackie"

Remember walking across the shuttle bridge from Highbridge to see baseball games at the Polo Grounds? 
yes

How many polo matches were held at the Polo Grounds?
none

What is the name of the Harlem neighborhood near the Polo Grounds?
Coogan's Bluff

What section of Brooklyn was Ebbets Field? 
Flatbush

Into what street did the Duke hit his homers?
Bedford Avenue

And, finally, why did the Dodgers move to LAX?

$$$

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From Ron Amritt

Hey Jan,

My mother (now 96 and living in LA) was a "Bronx Dodger" too. But the rest of Highbridge were Yankee or Giant fans.

And John Calamari still works at the new Yankee Stadium. I'm not sure, but he has been there at least 50 years!

Ron: Calamari told me his seniority number at the Stadium is Number 1!!
Jobs pass from father to son. Jp

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From Larry Scheffler:

Yes, I too was not a Yankee fan. Got into a lot of scuffles as a kid in the 1950"s Bronx rooting for the Dodgers. And then they abandoned us for LA. It was quite a blow and I stopped following baseball for quite some time.

Did not really become a baseball fan again until I moved to Seattle and started rooting for the Mariners.

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From Jeff Zupan:

Yes he was the last one among Peewee, Jackie, Campy, Gil and the Duke.

I too was a Dodger fan amidst the arrogant Yankee fans in the 50s, and suffered mightily. 

I have a painting of the five above in my office, Now they are all gone, inevitably.

Long live the Brooklyn Dodgers!

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From Harvey Liss:

Ha! My father was also a Dodger fan, as was I.

Although we lived only half a mile from Yankee stadium, we never went there, except when the Yankees played the Dodgers in a World Series, in the ‘50s. And your favorites were my favorites! Also, Don Drysdale. 
When they moved to LA we lost interest.
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From Dusty Forstadt:

I too was a Dodger fan. I thought I was the only one on Anderson Ave. I still remember exactly where I was when Bobby Thompson hit his homerun and ruined my childhood.

When I moved to L.A, I followed them but it wasn't the same after all the old timers left. Thanks for bringing back memories.

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From Oscar Muscarella:

Hey man, there is only one DUKE---and he is not a ball player:

I worked at Ebbets Field as a "hustler" selling ice cream and soda at least twice.

Duke Snider, indeed! Ellington is THE Duke

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From Paul Benowitz:

I too lamented the loss of the Duke, though my idol was Gil Hodges. I always played first base in the school yard, and I perfected that Gil Hodges split stretch at twelve years of age. (In case you didn't know, I can't do that today.)

We used to take a few buses to Ebbets Field, and pay what? 50 cents? for bleacher seats, and then squeeze through the wrought iron fence into the general admission seats, which were $1.25. 

My mom once scolded me for playing stickball well into the night on my street (my block) saying "who do you think you are, a $50,000 a year ballplayer like Mickey Mantle?"

I recently paid $125 a pop for Yankee Stadium seats, and $175 a pop for seats at Fenway. And, as you know, they go for considerably more than that if you manage a hedge fund.

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From Paul's younger brother Larry Benowitz:

The Duke gone? He was my favorite.

My brother's favorite was Gil Hodges. I LOVED GIL ALSO, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE WAS MANAGER OF THE METS. (jp)

My father used to take us to Ebbets Field by subway (2 changes from our nearest station). I collected wrappers from Elsie Borden ice cream to get in for a discount. I think grandstand seats were $1.25, but that was steep for us and we sat in the bleachers for 75 cents, I think.

Can you imagine, seeing one of the greatest teams ever assembled for an amount that seemed like chicken feed even to an 8 year old kid?

I was 9 when they lost the 1954 series and remember being very bummed out, going out in the street and cussin'. And I was inconsolable when they moved to L.A. Why did they move?

To us, Walter O'Malley was on par with Hitler, but I've seen more recently that there were other things going on and that he wasn't wholly responsible for the move. Yeah, and Joseph Stalin was a nice guy.

And - we once waited at the back of Ebbets Field to see the players come out after a game, and I saw Jackie Robinson ride off in a yellow Cadillac. One of my brushes with immortality, along with seeing Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, and other immortals at the Alan Freed Rock and Roll Show in 1958.

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From Howie Kuflik:

I THINK DUKE WUD HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE HALL OF FAME A LOT SOONER IF IT WASNT FOR MAYS AND MANTLE

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From Marty Israel:

We, from University Heights, used the Washington Bridge (not to be confused with the George Washington Bridge.

Actually, I only went to one game at the Polo Grounds (I don't remember how I got there) and I vowed never to go again. The bleachers there really earned their name by not providing a lick of shade, and the sun was in your eyes as it got lower in the sky. As I remember it, Ebbets Field bleachers were shaded.

There was no reason to attend a game at Yankee Stadium as one could view it with a set of binoculars from the platform of the 161 St. El.

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From Ms Marty Bartimole:

OMG....I had not checked my email when I read the AOL news update about "the Duke"...

I was madly in love with "the Mick"....had his book and pic on my desk in grade school...BUT loved the 3 center fielders...Mickey, Willie, and Duke....

When I saw the post about the Duke's passing, I sent an email to all those whom I thought might care...you were one...THEN I checked my email and saw that the Duke's passing hit you, too...

We've lost so many of "The Boys of Summer".....sad. 

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FROM HOWIE KUFFLIK:

THERE'S ONLY 3 LEFT FROM THAT TEAM. CARL ERSKINE DON NEWCOMBE AND RALPH BRANCA. I WONDER IF ANYONE WHO WAS A DODGER FAN AND REMEMBERS 1951 HAS EVER FORGIVEN RALPH BRANCA

Jan Responded:

Long forgiven. Branca and Thompson traveled the country together as celebrity guest speakers.
Anyway, Thompson stole the catcher's sign that was relayed to the little window in the outfield scoreboard

HOWIE RESPONDED:

MY MOTHER NEVER FORGAVE HIM AND SHE DEFINITELY NEVER FORGAVE WALTER O'MALLEY. 

SHE WAS AT THAT FAMOUS GAME. SHE WAS ONE OF FOUR DODGER FANS IN MY CONCLAVE ON MACOMBS ROAD. I WAS ONE OF I THINK 8 YANKEE FANS. EVERYONE ELSE ROOTED FOR THE GIANTS. 

WHEN SHE GOT HOME AND WAS ABLE TO SEE THE BUILDING WE LIVED IN SHE NOTICED A BUNCH OF CRYING TOWELS BEING WAVED TO HER FROM WINDOWS IN OUR BUILDING. 

THOSE DAYS SURE WERE GREAT WEREN'T THEY?
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From Marty Israel:

Who knew that half of Taft was populated with Dodgers fans? Had I known, I wouldn't have remained "in the closet" as a Bums fan while I was there.

My favorite, then and now, was #42, followed by the Newk.

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From Joe Follick:

Hi Jan: Interesting comments...I remember my father saying (in whispers) that the Yankees were antisemites.....I think he and his brother rooted for the Boston Red Sox....it was very confusing for me at the time.

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Vivien Lowenthal Landau wrote:

I remember Ira Baker (1085 Anderson Ave) crying hysterically when the Dodgers lost.

I was very young and couldn't understand why anyone would cry over a game especially since the team I was rooting for won.

Also, these are girlhood memories too.

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Ray Frank wrote:

I forwarded your baseball email to my friend Tony. This is his reply: 

"Years ago I went to a book signing where I lined up to see Mickey Mantle. The bookstore manager made it clear Mickey didn't have time to speak; just get your book signed and move on...

As Mickey signed the book I told him how he was my childhood idol and how I once went to see him hit two home-runs against the Senators.  "And one of the pitches you hit was over your head"!

The Mick, who hadn't even looked up, finally did so and smiled...

Ray continues:

Living in Washington and being a baseball fan meant you had to find a team besides the Senators to root for. Since my cousins all lived in New York I adopted the Yankees. Besides, the other New York teams played in the National League so the only one I got to see was the Yanks, and Mickey Mantle was my hero.

My cousins who lived in Manhattan rooted for the Giants and Willie Mays and the cousins in Brooklyn of course rooted for the Dodgers and Duke Snider.

Here's a video for all baseball fans: 

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From Steve Swid:

I also mourn the passing of the Duke. Yet, as a Giant fan, amongst all the Yankee fans in the neighborhood, I rooted for the Dodgers in the World Series against the Yankees. 

But the best thing I can say about the Dodger organization was Happy Felton's Knot Hole Gang. 

The Duke's passing is one more hint to our mortality.

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Marty Israel wrote:

I used to think that Barbara Felden, of "Get Smart", was his daughter, until Wikipedia disabused me of that notion.
Does no one want to memorialize the Dodgers Sym-Phony, or Red Barber (now in that "catbird seat" in the sky)?
Speaking of Red Barber, the real name of his Yankee vis-a-vis, Mel Allen, was Melvin Allen Israel, but, as far as I know, he was not related to me.  
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Kevin O'Reilly (1067 Anderson Ave) wrote:

I too was a rabid Dodger fan.

I loved them all, but Jackie Robinson was my favorite and when he stole home in the World Series I went berserk.

A number of years ago, Yogi Berra had a book out consisting of his famous quotations. He came in person to autograph copies at a local bookstore. I bought four, one for each of my boys. As he was signing them, I told him that he ruined my childhood, that I was a Dodger fan and hated him growing up. In a clutch situation, I wanted anyone but him up. (In fact, he was the best clutch hitter I ever saw. You could not pitch around him. I remember seeing him hit a double in the course of an intentional walk.)

Anyway, he kept signing without uttering a word until I said, "And Robinson was safe at home." He got quite excited and actually stood up, saying, "He was out." Obviously, you can still press his button with that.

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David Brothers wrote:

Inadvertently, I may have played a role in that famous Dodger-Giant playoff ballgame.

After school I used to deliver drugs for Dworkin's Pharmacy on 164th Street and Sheridan Avenue. ("Doc" Dworkin's daughter became a well known advocate of the Women's Lib movement a decade or two later.)

One evening I delivered sedatives to an apartment on 164th Street occupied by an especially grumpy, unshaven man, Sal Maglie - "Sal the Barber", then a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (after a good career with The Giants). He accepted the medication and I do not recall him tipping me. I think I was grateful to leave the Maglie premises.

Of course, it was Sal Maglie, then a very excellent curve balling Dodger pitcher who "ran out of juice" in the late innings necessitating a change in pitchers and bringing into the ballgame another very excellent Brooklyn Dodger, relief-pitcher, Ralph Branca. Ultimately he faced Bobby Thomson, a so-so hitter.

The Polo Grounds had a foreshortened left field fence. As we all know, Thomson hit a home run into left field seats and the Giants miraculously won the pennant.

I always wondered whether "The Barber", hoping to be well rested for the big game, took too many of those sedatives the night before the playoff game and was thus limited in his ability to perform on the big day.

This was one of those events that even now guys remember where they were standing when the news that the "Giants won the pennant" arrived. I was playing left field in a ballgame in P.S. 90's lower school yard when a crowd of screaming guys suddenly exploded from the candy store on the southeast corner of 166th Street and Sherman Avenue with the mind-boggling news.

I also had the distinction of successfully sneaking into Yankee Stadium, a challenge I posed for myself one afternoon. I walked into the Stadium after carefully studying the ticket-takers routines and the surging crowds - my claim to fame with my sons.

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Jan wrote:

Hello Sports Fans,

Since the event is almost sixty years ago, our friend David Brothers can be forgiven his lapse of memory.

Kevin O'Reilly made the correction:

As someone else once said, "You could look it up," so I did.

Branca relieved Newcombe in the game.

Maglie was still very much with the Giants.

Thank Heavens for Wikipedia because my memory was no better than David's.

But the drug delivery was a nice touch, don't you think?

Cheers,

Jan

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Steve Swid's note drove me to the Internet:

http://snideralbum.tripod.com/Baseball/pages/team.html

 

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