Sep 20, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (2001) Mike Piazza's Post 911 HR

Friday September 21st, 2001: On this now legendary night, baseball returned to New York City for the first time since the tragic attacks of 911.

41, 235  fans came out to Shea Stadium on a very emotional night of baseball & support for both New York City as well as America. Before the game there was a very moving  ceremony honoring the victims of 911.

The New York Mets hosted their rivals, the Atlanta Braves. Both teams lined up from home plate down the baselines, during an emotional National Anthem sung by singer Mark Anthony. Also during that evenings ceromonies, Diana Ross sang "God Bless America" & Liza Minelli sang "New York, New York".

There were special honored guests on hand; New York City firemen, policemen & other emergency workers. On this night, New York City attempted to get back to some kind of normal routine & it began with the playing of baseball. After the ceromonies, the two teams shook hands, hugged each other & proceeded to play ball.
The Mets (75-73) entered the game in third place on a hot streak, just 4 1/2 games back of the Braves (79-68). The reigning N.L. Champion Mets, were indeed back in the pennant race. It was their best stretch of the season. They had won ten out of their last twelve games, and twenty of their last twenty six games.

Bobby Valentine sent pitcher; Bruce Chen to the mound against native New Yorker, Atlanta's Jason Marquis.

Leadoff batter Marcus Giles drew a walk, but was erased on a line drive double off the bat of Julio Franco. In the bottom of the 1st, Mike Piazza fittingly got the first hit of the game, a double to left field.

In the visiting 4th, Chipper Jones singled & scored on a Ken Caminiti double, 1-0 Braves. But the Mets came right back in the bottom of the inning. Mike Piazza doubled for the second time, Robin Ventura then singled. Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit a sac fly, scoring Piazza to tie it at one.

The two pitchers  allowed just one run each before both getting relieved in the 7th inning.

The Mets native New Yorker, John Franco came in & retired the first two batters in the 8th inning. But then he gave up a walk to Julio Franco & a single to Chipper Jones. Franco was then relieved by Armando Benitez. Benitez surrendered the go ahead run on a double to Brian Jordan.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Atlanta's Steve Karsay came in to pitch. Karsay was born in Flushing, Queens just a baseball throw over to Shea Stadium. He then attended high school in Middle Village, Queens New York.

Matt Lawton led off with a ground out to short. Karsay then walked Edgardo Alfonzo. Desi Relaford came in to pinch run and the Mets best hitter, Mike Piazza came to bat.

In the most dramatic fashion, Piazza blasted a long HR over the Shea Stadium fence, bringing the crowd into a frenzy. As a matter of fact for a brief moment, all of New York city went into to a frenzy. It was one of the most important HRs in Piazza's career, one of the most important HRs in Mets history, as well as in baseball history.
It was more than just a HR, more than just putting the Mets ahead. The HR meant so much to the city of New York & America as a nation.

 Mets broadcaster Howie Rose may have put it best, he said he saw fire fighters smile as Piazza rounded the bases. There is no doubt that that man lost friends, colleges & maybe even family members on that tragic day of 911. But some how this HR in a game of baseball made him happy & forget his troubles for at least a moment. Thats when he realized it was good that baseball was back on the field again.

As the years have gone by, the legend of this HR has even grown larger than life itself. It will never be forgotten.

It some how symbolized that New York City as well as America was back & moving forward. It was Piazza's 34th HR of the year, he had three hits on the night, bringing his average up to just under the .300 mark.

Armando Benitez came back in the 9th inning with the fans on their feet & still excited. Javier Lopez led off with a single & everyone held their breath as Armando was at it again. But on this night, even he came through. He struck out BJ Surhoff & closed out the 9th inning by striking out Gary Mathews Jr. 

The Mets had a dramatic 3-2 vctory and pulled even closer to the Braves. The Mets won five straight & got to within three games of Atlanta.  Then they eventually lost six of nine & fell out of the race.

Trivia: Even one of the most hated Mets opponents of that era; Chipper Jones, admitted it was the only time that he didn't mind losing a game, because of what it meant for New York City, baseball & the Country in the wake of tragedy.

Remembering Mets History: (1965) Casey Stengel Retires From Managing

 August 30th 1965: Casey Stengel was to turn 75 years old on July 30th, 1965. The Mets were having a ceremony for him between games of a double header on July 25th.

The previous night, Stengel was getting out of a friend’s car after a party; he fell & broke his hip. Two days later he needed surgery & had a metal ball inserted in the hip to reduce the fracture.

Due to his health issues & his age the long baseball career of Casey Stengel on the field, came to an end on July 30th 1965. In a press conference at Shea Stadium, Stengel announced his retirement, stepping down as Mets manager. He was to be named vice president of Mets West Coast operations. More a title than anything else, so he could be near his home in Glendale, California.

The Mets new manager was to be Wes Westrum. Westrum who had been a Mets coach, had taken over when Stengel broke his hip. He would now assume the role of full time manager, the second skipper in team history. On September 2nd, 1965 the Mets retired Stengel’s uniform #37, the first Mets number to be retired.

Sep 19, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1973) The Ball On The Wall Game & The Mets Take Over First Place

The 1973 New York Mets had entered the month of September in fifth place but were just 5 1/2 games. An incredible September had them go 20-7 winning the Division. 

There may have been no series bigger than this weeks against the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Mets had just left Three Rivers Stadium, and split a series and were now just 2 1/2 games out of first place. The two teams moved to New York to play a three game series.

Wednesday September 19th 1973: In the first game 29,240 came to Shea Stadium, as George Stone & Tug McGraw beat the Pirates with good run support 7-3. Stone allowed a lead off HR to Pittsburgh's Rennie Stennett. But in the 3rd inning, the Mets Cleon Jones answered with a two run HR, putting the Mets ahead 2-1. In the 3rd, Stennett tripled & Dave Cash brought him in with a base hit to tie it. 

In the home 3rd, George Stone singled & was moved over to second. Felix Millan then singled putting New York ahead, as Stone scored. Stone grounded out but brought home a run in the 6th inning making it 4-2. Willie Stargell hit his league leading 41st HR in the 6th for the final Pitaes run.

In the 8th inning, the hottest hitter on the planet; Cleon Jones, connected for a three run HR sealing the 7-3 Mets win. Tug McGraw came on in the 7th, and completed the three inning save, his 22nd of the year.

Jerry Koosman
Thursday, September 20th 1973:  Yogi Berra's Mets were now just  one & 1/2 games out of first place in the tight NL East.

Tonight's game between the Mets & Danny Murtaugh's Pittsburgh Pirates was certainly one of the most important games of the 1973 season & one of the most remembered games in Mets history. 24,855 fans filled Shea Stadium that night to see Jerry Koosman (12-15) go up against the Pirates Jim Rooker (9-5).

In the 4th inning the Pirates scored the first run, Koos walked Willie Stargell & Many Sanguillen singled. Then sloppy play led to a run, when Bud Harrelson threw wildly to first base on a Dal Maxvill groundball, the error scored Willie Stargell.

Rooker rolled along to the 6th inning, when he walked Jerry Koosman to start the inning. Kooz was forced at second by Wayne Garrett's grounder, then Felix Millan continued his hot hitting & got a base hit. With two outs, one of the hottest months of September; Cleon Jones came through with a single to left field scoring Garrett. The game was tied 1-1 & as Bob Murphy would say was "getting to be a real nail bitter".

In the 7th Richie Hebner took a Koosman curve ball over the fence for a 2-1 lead. Rooker kept the Mets down until the 8th, pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp came through for manager Yogi Berra once again, with a base hit. Teddy Martinez came in to pinch run & Wayne Garrett laid down a successful sacrifice bunt.

Once again it was Felix Millan coming through with a base hit to tie the game. Rooker got out of the inning with two men on getting John Milner to pop out to short.

In the 9th Harry Parker came in to pitch for the Mets. Parker had been a solid reliever throughout the year out of the bull pen. In the top of the 9th tonight, he walked Bob Robertson to lead off the inning. Pinch runner Dave Augustine was brought in to run. Dal Maxvill sacrificed him over to second. Harry Parker then fanned rookie slugger Dave Parker for the second out. With Hebner up again, after homering earlier, Berra wasn't taking any chances, he was given an intentional pass. But Dave Cash. an All Star himself, then doubled past Cleon Jones in left field bringing in Augustine with the go ahead run 3-2.

The return of "the Stork"
George Theodore
In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Pirates made three defensive changes & brought in Bob Johnson to pitch. Yogi Berra sent another one of his top pinch hitters in the '73 season up, veteran of the 1969 Amazing Mets; Kenny Boswell. Boswell delivered with a base hit to right field. Dohn Hahn then laid down a beauty of a bunt, advancing Boswell.

The Shea Faithful were now on their feet chanting "Lets Go Mets". As Ed Kranepool was announced as a pinch hitter, Pirates Manager Danny Murtaugh changed his pitcher, bringing in Ramon Hernandez.

George the Stork Theodore was brought in to pinch hit, it was The Stork's first appearance since early July, after going on the DL after his outfield collision with Don Hahn. Stork was still not at his best & went down swinging.

The Shea crowd still cheered Theodore for his bravery of coming back. He would remain a folk hero in Mets history forever & was honored in the Last Game at Shea in 2009.

Duffy Dyer
Now with two outs & the tying run on second base, Berra put up Duffy Dyer to pinch hit for the pitcher Parker. Dyer doubled to left field scoring Boswell, as the Mets dug out went wild, the Shea fans went wild & Yogi Berra once again made another right move.

Into the 10th inning & it was a whole new ball game. Ken Boswell stayed in the game & took over third base, as Wayne Garrett moved to short replacing Harrelson. 

The new catcher brought in was rookie Ron Hodges & what a key figure he would turn out to be in this classic game.

Pinch Hitter Ken Boswell
Ray Sadecki was brought in to pitch for New York & Jim McKee for the Pirates. Sadecki was fired up & struck out the side in the top of the 11th. He would pitch four innings, through the 13th, strike out six, allow no runs & two hits. In the bottom half of the 11th, the Mets threatened, John Milner walked & Boswell sacrificed him over to second.

Luke Walker was brought in to pitch & gave Don Hahn an intentional walk. But Walker got catcher Ron Hodges & Sadecki to both ground out.

In the op of the 13th inning, Richie Zisk singled with one out. Catcher Manny Sanguillen flew out to right field for the second out. Then, with the next play, the Mets fans really started to "believe" in Tug McGraw's mantra "You Gotta Believe".

Dave Augustine drilled a fly ball over the head of Cleon Jones in deep left field, the ball was headed to be a HR. But miraculously, it bounced off the top of the wall into Cleon Jones' glove. Jones played it perfectly, he then turned & fired to short stop Wayne Garrett.

From the moment the ball was hit, Pirates runner Richie Zisk took off from first & was rounding the bases. Wayne Garrett took the relay & made a perfect throw to home plate to catcher Ron Hodges. 

Hodges took the throw, blocked the plate held his ground & tagged out Zisk who was trying to score on the play. "Out at home plate". This play became known as "the Ball off the Wall Play".

The fans still amazed at the great play they witnessed were on their feet shouting "Lets Go Mets". 

Pirates pitcher; Luke Walker walked John Milner to lead off the inning. Next Ken Boswell walked as well, sending Danny Murtaugh to the mound to replace Walker with Dave Giusti. Giusti got Don Hahn to pop out for out number one.

Then Ron Hodges came through with a base hit to left field, scoring Milner with the walk off Mets win in dramatic fashion.

The win brought the Mets to within a half of game of first place of the Pirates. The Pirates fell to .500 which was the best record in the NL East. The Mets were now 76-77 & had one more game against the Pirates tomorrow night.

Friday September 21st, 1973: On this night the Mets were going for first place & 51,381 came out to Shea to watch that years Cy Young Award winner; Tom Sever (17-10) go against Steve Blass (3-8). 
It was all Mets tonight as the offense provided Seaver with ten runs. Seaver pitched the complete game allowing two runs on six hits while striking out eight.

The Mets showed they meant business right away. Wayne Garrett & Rusty Staub both singled & Cleon Jones doubled bringing in both runners. Jerry Grote followed with a base hit bringing in Cleon, 3-0 Mets. 

In the 3rd John Milner "the hammer" hit his 23rd HR of the year off a young Pat Zachary. Cleon Jones, Grote & Bud Harrelson all singled making it 6-2 Mets.

Wayne Garrett & Rusty Staub both hit HRs later in the game & Felix Millan added an RBI single to cap off the 10-2 win. The Mets were now in first place. They would hold on to their lead & win the Eastern Division on the last day of the season.

Remembering Mets History: (2016) Look Who's No.1 (In the Wild Card Race)

Sunday September 18th 2016: Terry Collins Mets (80-69) went into todays game looking for a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, who are in tough times trying to avoid a 100 loss season. The Mets need to take advantage of the struggling teams if they are going to get to the post season. This game was a squeaker, but the Mets pulled it out with a 3-2 win in front of 28,926 at Citi Field.

It's been a crazy injury plaque season for the Mets & to have this team in the playoff hunt atop the wild card race is Amazing itself. Today saw Lucas Duda make a return to action after four months & Juan Lagares make an appearance after missing almost a month of time himself.

T.J. River Blasts a HR
Another almost unknown pitcher took the mound today and keep the running joke of "who's the new guy pitching for the Mets today? It doesn't matter they won again"! Or "Who's playing in the Mets infield today? It doesn't matter they won again. So who would be today's heroes? It doesn't matter they won again!

Quotes: Terry Collins- "Put it this way: I think winning's contagious. When things are going good, guys want to be a part of it."

These Mets have now won three straight, eleven of their last fourteen and going further back on this excellent run, twenty of their last twenty seven.

Terry Collins used six pitchers today with Gabriel Ynoa making his first career start allowing just one run in 4.1 innings while striking out an impressive eight. Out of the pen it was, Josh Edgin, Eric Goddel, Josh Smoker, Fernando Salas & then Jerry Blevins earned his second save.

In the 1st inning, it was the forgotten Michael Conforto delivering a two run single scoring Alejandro DeAza & T.J. Rivera who continues his hot hitting. In the 3rd, Rivera hit his second HR of the year a solo shot that ended up being the game winning run.

With the San Francisco Giants losing to the St. Louis Cardinals again the Mets are now atop the wild card race for the first time this season.

Note: Yoenis Cespedes was removed from the game after feeling dizzy but is expected to be ok."Cespedes came up and said he just got sick in the runway and his legs were getting a little weak, he was getting a little dizzy, so I took him out," Terry Collins said."

Sep 18, 2017

Remembering the 1973 N.L. Champion Mets: Mets Move Within One & 1/2 Games of First Place

Tuesday September 18th NL East Standings:
Pittsburgh Pirates -
Montreal Expos 1.0 games back
St. Louis Cardinals 1.5 games back
New York Mets 2.5 games back
Chicago Cubs 5.0 games back
Philadelphia Phillies 10.5 games back

Jon Matlack
Being that this was such an important game, it's amazing that just 12,000 fans showed up at Three Rivers Stadium as Pirate pitcher Bob Moose went up against the Mets Jon Matlack.

Matlack was pitching the best he had been all year, he had won his last four decisions, six of seven. Moose was also pitching well enough to win his last four decisions.

In the 3rd inning, the Mets scored first when Rusty Staub singled home Wayne Garrett. The Pirates came right back, as Richie Zizk singled home two runs & Many Sangillen doubled in two more. The game stayed that way until the 9th inning, when the Mets came back.

With one out pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp got a base hit off Pirate reliever, Ramon Hernandez. Then Wayne Garrett doubled, putting men on second & third. Felix Millan, the Mets best contact hitter (batting .291) came through again, with a triple to deep center field, bringing in both runners.

It was Millan's fourth triple of the year. The next batter Rusty Staub drew a walk.

The manager wheels started turning, as Mets skipper Yogi Berra sent Duffy Dyer to pinch hit for Tug McGraw. But Pirates Manager Danny Murtaugh changed pitchers bringing in the righty Dave Guisti. Berra then counteracted & sent up third string rookie catcher; Ron Hodges.

Hodges had come up in June & remained on the club, handling the star studded pitching staff well for a rookie, he was also batting .250. Hodges delivered, with a base hit scoring Millan to tie the game. The Mets continued to rally, Teddy Martinez was brought in to run for Hodges, another move that would make Berra look like a genius.

Buzz Capra
Cleon Jones also walked, as Gusti was really having a tough night. Centerfielder Don Hahn then drove a base hit to center field scoring Martinez & Rusty Staub, making it a 6-4 Mets lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Bob Apodaca started out pitching, but he walked the first two batters & was yanked for Buzz Capra. After Dave Cash sacrificed the runners over, Al Oliver grounded out to first base but a run scored, bringing the Pirates to within a run.

Capra then gave Willie Stargell an intentional pass & walked Richie Zisk loading the bases. A rookie named Dave Parker was brought in to pinch run, as tension mounted. Capra then got catcher Manny Sanguillen to fly out to Cleon Jones to end the game.

Yogi Berra's Mets used 21 players in the game, including five pitchers. Tug McGraw got the win, his fifth straight since August 22nd. The win brought the Mets to within 2 1/2 games of the Pirates. That day the Cardinals beat the Expos & Cubs split a twin bill. ___________

On Wednesday September 19th the Mets / Pirates Series moved to New York. The Mets went up against the first place Pirates two games back. Now there was a buzz in the way the Mets were playing & a large crowd of just under 30,000 came to Shea to root on the Mets.

It was the Pirates Nelson Briles (13-12) going up against Mets '1973 surprise pitcher George Stone (11-3). Since July 14th, Stone had gone 7-0 mixing in a strong rotation of Seaver, Koosman & Matlack.

The Pirates led off hitter Rennie Stennett started the game with a HR. In the bottom of the 2nd, Cleon Jones hit a two run HR putting the Mets in front 2-1. It was to be Cleon's night as he started a hitting streak that would go eight of the last ten games.

He would also drive in 14 runs in the next ten games, starting out with his biggest run production game of the '73 season, as he hit two HRs & drove in five runs in tonight's game. His second HR came in the bottom of the 8th with the Mets ahead 4-3.

With one out, Pirates pitcher Dave Guisti walked John Milner after Rusty Staub had singled. Jones then blasted a long HR bringing the Shea crowd to its feat, as they were "believing". Felix Millan added an RBI single earlier & Stone helped his cause by grounding out on a force play that scored Jerry Grote.

George Stone wins his 12th
Stone went on to win his 12th & final game of the regular season (12-3) & Tug McGraw who pitched three shut out innings, continued to be spectacular earning his 22nd save of the year.

In the 8th Al Oliver had singled to right field & with one out McGraw got Richie Zisk to ground into a double play ending any threat the Pirates had. The Mets were now just 1 1/2 games out of first place.

Remembering Mets History: (1963) Mets Play Last Regular Season Baseball Game In the Polo Grounds

Wednesday September 18th, 1963: For 74 years the Polo Grounds stood at 155th St & 8th Ave below an area of elevation known as Coogan's Bluff. The original site was at 110th St & 5th Ave but as the City of New York extended its street grid, the Polo Grounds had to find a new home.

In 1889 the New York Giants began playing there. The Stadium went through some changes, most notably after a fire destroyed the wooden horse shoe shape grandstand in 1911. It dimensions were legendary, 483 feet to dead center field, 450 feet in the left & right center field gaps, 279 down the left field line & 258 feet down the right field line.

The ballpark was home to the New York Baseball Giants from 1883 to 1957, hosting 16 Giants World Series & two All Star Games (1934 / 1942). It was home for the most famous catch in baseball history, as Willie Mays made "the catch' in the 1954 World Series in dead center field.

It also was home to the most famous HR in MLB history, when Bobby Thompson hit "the shot heard round the world" as the Giants won the 1951 pennant, walk off style.

The New York Football Giants played there for 50 years from 1925-1955. The cross town, A.L. New York club played there (1913-1922) as did the New York Football Titans who became the Jets (1960-1963).

The New York Mets played at the Polo Grounds in the clubs first two seasons as they awaited Shea Stadium to be built in Queens, New York. On September 18th 1963 the last major league game was played there.

Casey Stengel's last place Mets (49-104) hosted Gene Mauch's fourth place Philadelphia Phillies (81-72) in front of a tiny crowd of 1,752. There was not much fan fare & not many people took notice that the Polo Grounds was hosting it's last game.

The starting pitchers were Craig Anderson for New York & Chris Short for Philadelphia. Anderson had led the 1962 Mets in appearances but was at AAA Buffalo most of 1963 & this was his first start of the season.

Quotes: Craig Anderson "Nobody said anything to me. It’s funny, but I don’t remember any fanfare of it being the last game at the Polo Grounds."

The Mets took a 5-1 loss that day, with Jim Hickman providing the only Mets run. It was a solo HR & the last to be hit in the Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Mets Tim Harkness flied out to center field for the first out. 

Next, Rod Kanehl singled & Chico Fernandez singled as well for the last hit in the old Polo Grounds. Next, Chris Short pitched the ball park's final batter; Brooklyn born, Ted Schreiber. He grounded into a double play for the final out in the old ball park at 4:21 PM.

Quotes: Ted Schreiber said in 2011- "Sure I remember the game, because I made the last two outs, I thought I had a hit because I hit it up the middle, but Cookie Rojas made a great play on it. That’s why I’m in the Hall of Fame; they put the ball there because the stadium was closed after that. I knew that was the last game; I didn’t realize I made the last out until later.”

Another Mets player that day, Frank Thomas had been the first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 1957 when the New York Giants played their final game at the Polo Grounds. Thomas caught a throw from second baseman Dick Groat & made the last put out at first base on that historic day.

After the Mets final home game of 1963, Casey Stengel waved his cap in the air to the few fans left & they cheered as the Public address system played "Auld Lang Syne".

Trivia: The Jets would play the last football game at the Polo Grounds in December losing to the Buffalo Bills 19-10. In October the actual final game was a an exhibition game, a Latin American All Star game that included many major leaguer's.

"The Duke of Flatbush"- Duke Snider (Mets 1963)

Edwin Donald Snider was born September 19th, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. As a child he walked around like he was royalty and his parents gave him the nick name “Duke”.

While playing in Brooklyn he became known as the Duke of Flatbush & The Silver Fox.

Snider was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 while he was a quaterback at Compton High School. He went into the military in 1945 then came to the minor leagues, and by 1947 made a brief debut with the Brooklyn Dogers, who still had Carl Furillo & Pete Reiser playing centerfield. In 1948 Snider was batting .326 at AAA Montreal and was called up for good.

By 1949 he was Brooklyn’s main centerfielder and would hold down that position until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Snider went on to become the biggest bat in the classic Brooklyn line up, making 8 All Star Games, leading the league in HRs in 1956, lading in RBIs, doubles, hits & walks one time each, as well as runs scored three times.

He went to six World Series, winning two Championships, Snider is the ALL Time NL World Series HR leader with 11, and was the only player to hit four or more HRs in two World Series.

Coming up as a rookie in 1947, he refused to sign the petition some team mates started against Jackie Robinson. Snider remembered Robinson growing up when he was a star at UCLA in Southern California.

During his early struggles, Snider would sometimes get moody and pout in the locker room. Dodger Captain Pee Wee Reese, seven years older than Duke, would come over joking “who stole Duke’s candy’ breaking the mood & helping mature the young 20 year old Snider.

In 1950 he led the league in hits (199) and batted over .300 (.321) for the first of seven times he would do so. His 31 HRs were 5th in the league, his 101 RBIs 7th best. He would drive in over 100 runs five different times.

In 1951 he hit 29 HRs with 101 RBIs but his average fell to .277 as the Dodgers blew a 13 game late August lead to the New York Giants. The media critised Snider & his mates and he requested a trade becaue he fellt he couldn’t help the Dodgers. That soon changed & all blew over.

In 1952 he raised his average up to .303 as some of his power numbers dropped 21 HRs 25 doubles & 92 RBIs. Not known for his base running, Snider stole 14 bases in 1951 & 16 bases in both 1950 & 1953. He also had 10 triples twice, and six or more seven different seasons.

Defensively he was always in the N.L. shadows of Willie Mays, but the Duke was probably the next best outfielder in the game. He was swift and fleet footed with a good accurate arm patrolling the Ebbetts Field centerfield position.

He would lead centerfielders in fielding in 1955 (.989) while coming in the top five, five other times. He was in the league’s top five in assists seven times and ranks 60th all time (4099). He had six different seasons with 10 or more assists from the outfield.

From 1953- 1956 he was one of the best all around hitters in the game, during Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer Days.

In 1953 he hit 42 HRs with 126 RBIs, and would hit 40 plus HRs & drive in over 100 runs over the next three seasons as well. During that period he hit over 30 doubles each year, scored over 100 runs while leading the league three straight years, and batted over .300 three consecutive times.

In 1955 he won the NL Player of the Year Award just missing out to team mate Roy Campanella for the MVP Award as well.

The vote was controversial since one sports writer was hospitalized and while filling out his ballot selected Campy twice, mistakenly not filling in the 5th slot where Snider should have been placed. If so, Duke would have won the award, but the league accepted the incorrect ballot.

Snider led the N.L. in RBIs (136) runs scored (126) his 42 HRs were 4th in the league, his 34 doubles 3rd best and he posted the 2nd best on base percentage at .419%.

He followed that up with arguably an even better year, leading the league in HRs (43) walks (99) on base percentage (.399) slugging (.598) & intentional walks (26). His 112 runs scored were second best & his 101 RBIs fourth in the league.

Post Season: His first World Series was in 1949, Snider only went 3-21 batting .149. He would hit over .300 in his next four Series’ perhaps having his best in 1952. He batted .345 (10-29) with HRs in the Dodgers Game One & Game Five wins as well as hitting a pair in Game #6.

In Game #5 he put Brooklyn ahead with a 5th inning two run shot then tied the game in the 7th inning with an RBI single scoring Billy Cox. The game went to extra innings and Duke’s 11th inning RBI double (again scoring Cox) was the game winner. In the 1953 Series he hit .320 with a HR & 4 RBIs.

In 1955 World Series, he homered in the opening Series game but Brooklyn lost 6-5. In Game #4 Snider hit a three run shot at Ebbetts Field leading Brooklyn to an 8-5 win and tying the Series at two games each.

In Game #5 Snider had three hits, including two solo HRs lifting Brooklyn to a 5-3 win, and heading across the city with a 3-2 Series lead. Hodges finished the Series batting .320 (8-28) with 4 HRs & 7 RBIs as Brooklyn won their only Championship.

In the 1956 Series Duke hit another HR, with three hits & three RBIs in the Dodgers Game #2, 13-3 rout. Overall he batted .302 as Brooklyn fell short of winning back to back Series by one game.

In the Dodgers last season in Brooklyn Duke batted only .274 which was his lowest average since he had been a full time player. He still bashed 40 HRs with 92 RBIs, while also leading the league (for the third time) in strikeouts with 104.

He did not play in the last game at Ebbetts Field. During his Brooklyn days he lived on Long Island and commuted to Brooklyn with Pee Wee Reese.

According to BR bullpen: One day the police stopped the car Reese was driving for some traffic infraction. The cop recognized Reese, wished them well in the game and let them pass with no ticket. Soon thereafter, Snider was driving and the same thing happened. Remembering Pee Wee's escape, the Duke identified himself. And the cop said, "I hate baseball."

With the move to Los Angeles Snider was thrilled to be playing back where he grew up in sunny Southern California.

In his first two seasons in L.A. he batted over .300 although his power numbers fell off. He hit 23 HRs with 88 RBIs in 1958 which were his biggest season totals in L.A. 

That season the Dodgers won their first Championship in Los Angeles beating the Chicago White Sox. In that Series Snider only hit .200 (2-10) but did hit his final career World Series HR in the final game, Game #6 off Early Wynn.

In 1962 the Dodgers & Giants again had a playoff to determine the winner of the N.L. pennant. Snider & now Dodger coach Leo Durocher begged manager Walt Alston to bring in Hall of Famer Don Drysdale to pitch the final inning of the 3rd & final game with L.A. holding a 4-2 lead. Instead Alston brought in Stan Williams & the Giants rallied winning the pennant. The following April, Snider was sold to the New York Mets. The big tough Drysdale broke down in tears learning of his close friends trade.

The Mets were trying to bring back some former National League New York stars to draw fans to the Polo Grounds. For the 1963 season, Snider was reunited briefly with former Brooklyn team mate Gil Hodges.

During their 1950’s hey days Snider had batted third in front of the clean up man Gil Hodges. Snider & Hodges were the only players in the decade of the fifties to drive in over 1000 runs each.

In terms of greatness, here is a most interesting stat; Duke had the most HRs (326) and most RBIs (1031) during the 1950s, while teammate Gil Hodges was second in both categories. Now with the Mets the two were both at the end of their careers.

Snider debuted with the Mets, on Opening Day 1963 batting cleanup and drew a walk in his first at bat in game at the Polo Grounds against the St. Louis Cardinals. In just his third Mets game he hit a HR against the Milwaukee Braves and on the team’s first 1963 road trip he hit three HRs.

On May 3rd he hit a pair of HRs at home against his old rival Giants now in San Francisco. Snider drove in all three runs in the Mets 5-3 loss that day.

By early May he had five HRs & 13 RBIs leading the weak hitting Mets team, thrilling the hometown fans. On June 7th with the Mets down 2-0 to the Cardinals in the bottom of the 9th inning, Snider blasted three run walk off HR at the Polo Grounds giving the fans one of their biggest dramatic thrills in the teams early history. On June 14th at Crosley Field in Cincinnati his 1st inning HR off Bob Purkey was his milestone 400th career HR coming while Snider was wearing a Mets uniform.

On June 25th he hit his last HR in New York City, it came in a loss to the Chicago Cube. Throughout the summer he only hit two HRs while driving in seven runs in both July & August.

On September 6th in Cincinnati Snider drove in two runs one coming on a single which scored Ed Kranepool & the other a sac fly leading New York to a 5-3 win.

In his next start on September 11th, he drove in his last career run (#1333) coming in New York at the Polo Grounds. On the season he hit 14 HRs with 45 RBIs (both third best on the team behind Frank Thomas & Jim Hickman), with 86 hits eight doubles 3 triples, 56 walks a .345 on base % while batting .243.

In 1964 Duke went to his long time rival San Francisco Giants batting .210 with 4 HRs playing in 91 games. Snider singled in the last at bat of his career on Oct. 3, 1964, while playing for the Giants.

Snider did play in 129 games but only batted .243. In an 18 year career playing in 2143 games, Duke hit 407 HRs (45th all time), with 2116 hits (205th all time), 358 doubles (242 all time), 85 triples, 1237 walks (123rd all time), & 1333 RBIs (85th all time).

He posted a .540 slugging percentage (38th all time) & a .380 on base percentage (175th all time). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 and had his number 4 retired by the Dodgers. Snider is ranked among the top 100 Player of all time.

Retirement: He is was one of the last Brooklyn Dodgers still living from the 1955 Championship team. Through the years he had appeared at many Dodgers reunions & Mets Old Timers games.

He also appeared at many card & memorabilia shows and pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges for not claiming the income.

In 1988 he wrote his autobiography “The Duke of Flatbush” & also penned Few & Chosen defining Dodger Greatness with Phil Pepe. He is a also one of the main characters in the books Boys of Summer, Tales from the Dodger Dugout, & Brooklyn Remembered. Duke married his wife Beverly in 1947, they have four children.

Retirement: He was one of the last Brooklyn Dodgers still living from the 1955 Championship team.

Through the years he has appeared at many Brooklyn Dodgers reunions. He also appeared at many card & memorabilia shows and pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges for not claiming the income.

In 1988 he wrote his autobiography “The Duke of Flatbush” & also penned Few & Chosen defining Dodger Greatness with Phil Pepe. He is a also one of the main characters in the books Boys of Summer, Tales from the Dodger Dugout, & Brooklyn Remembered. Duke married his wife Beverly in 1947, they have four children.

Snider was a classic figure at both Mets & Dodgers Old Timers games as well as Spring Training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida.

A popular visitor & who was often honored  at Dodger Stadium, the Duke always got a standing ovation on whichever coast he was on.

Sadly, Snider passed away on February 27, 2011, at the age 84 from what his family was an undisclosed illness at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, California.