The Dodgers announced at spring training camp in Glendale, AZ that Edwin Donald Snider died this morning at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido. The baseball Hall of Fame also announced Snider's passing. Duke Snider was the center fielder and top slugger for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s and the team's biggest star when they moved to Los Angeles. Snider stood beside Sandy Koufax in the pantheon of surviving ex-Dodgers, as the team's all-time leader in home runs and runs batted in. In baseball lore, Snider was the "third" New York center field star of the 1950s, behind Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. But Snider led the major leagues in home runs and RBIs in the decade, and his career OPS with the Dodgers would have led the team's lineup last season. The Dodgers' statement said that Snider died after a short illness.
He was an extremely gifted talent and his defensive abilities were often overlooked because of playing in a small ballpark, Ebbets Field. When he had a chance to run and move defensively, he had the grace and the abilities of DiMaggio and Mays and of course, he was a World Series hero that will forever be remembered in the borough of Brooklyn. Although it’s ironic to say it, we have lost a giant. He’s joining a great Dodger team that has moved on and I extend my sympathies to his entire family, especially to Bev.
Snider talking about his life:
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More reactions after the jump as they come in.
Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: "We shed a tear in Cooperstown for the man affectionately tabbed by his fans, 'The Duke of Flatbush.' There was no one classier or more easy-going than Duke Snider."
Dodger chairman Frank McCourt: “Duke was one of the truly legendary Dodgers who made his mark first in Brooklyn and then in his hometown, Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of spending time with him on several occasions and he was a truly wonderful man. I’m so glad that we were able to keep him as an active part of the Dodger family over the past several years. The entire Dodger organization is deeply saddened by his loss and our heartfelt thoughts are with Beverly and his family.”
Tommy Lasorda: “I was a Duke's teammate and looked up to him with respect. Duke was not only a great player but he was a great person too. He loved his family and loved the Dodgers. He was the true Dodger and represented the Dodgers to the highest degree of class, dignity and character. He was my teammate and friend and I will really miss him.”
Bill Madden, NY Daily News: "With his passing, all the regulars — catcher Roy Campanella, first baseman Gil Hodges, second baseman Junior Gilliam, shortstop Pee Wee Reese, third baseman Billy Cox, right fielder Carl Furillo and Jackie Robinson - of those star-crossed Dodger teams that won six National League pennants but just one World Series in Brooklyn from 1947-57 — are now gone."
Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers/Jon SooHoo