Duke Snider

Duke SniderProbably one of the most underrated superstars in baseball history, Duke Snider had the misfortune of playing at the same time as two other great center fielders in New York in the 1950s: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Still, Snider was a great ballplayer who could hit, hit for power, run, throw, and field his position with the best. He was a model of consistency in the middle of the Brooklyn Dodger lineup, hitting 40 homers in five straight seasons. He also stepped up when it mattered most, hitting 11 homers in the World Series, including four each in the 1952 and 1955 Fall Classics.

Snider teamed with Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and Carl Furillo to form an explosive offensive unit in the late 1940s and 1950s. He was the cleanup batter and played on six Dodger pennant-winning teams. The tall, muscular left-handed batter had a quick bat and powerful wrists. In many ways he was like a left-handed hitting Hank Aaron – capable of driving the ball out of the park in any direction. Snider led the NL in homers with 43 in 1956, and he also won an RBI crown in his career. A strong runner, Snider swiped 99 bases and was also known for having excellent range in the field. His all-around play resulted in him receiving MVP votes in eight different seasons. He was runner-up to teammate Campanella in 1955, finished third to Campy and Eddie Mathews in 1953, and was fourth in 1954 behind Mays, Ted Kluszewski, and Johnny Antonelli.

Snider hit .295 in a career that included eight All-Star selections. He played 11 years in Brooklyn and five more for the Dodger after they moved west to Los Angeles. He hit the first home run by a Dodger at Dodger Stadium.