Hall of Famer Duke Snider passes away at 84

Dodgers legend was elected to Hall of Fame in 1980

February 27, 2011
Duke Snider was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. (NBHOF)

Hall of Fame obituary

Watch Duke's 1980 Induction Speech

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Duke Snider, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 following an 18-year major league career in which he hit 407 home runs, passed away on Sunday morning from natural causes at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif. He was 84.

Born September 19, 1926 in Los Angeles, Snider made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Once he assumed duties as the club's every day center fielder, Snider totaled 20 home runs in nine straight seasons, from 1949-1957, hitting a league-best 43 in 1956, and finishing as the National League Most Valuable Player runner-up in 1955, helping to lead the Dodgers to their only World Series victory.

"Duke Snider was beloved by a nation of Dodgers fans, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, across generations and around the world," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "His wonderful legacy as one of the greatest outfielders of the 1950s will always be celebrated by us in Cooperstown. Our hearts go out to Beverly and their family at what we know must be a sad and difficult time."

A graceful fielder with a picture-perfect swing, Snider anchored six pennant-winning teams and clouted 11 World Series home runs, including four in 1952 and 1955, while driving in 26 runs in the Fall Classic. An eight-time All-Star, Snider led the league in runs scored in three straight seasons, 1953-55.

Snider's Dodgers tenure spanned 11 seasons in Brooklyn (1947-1957), followed by five seasons in Los Angeles (1958-1962) following the team's move West for the 1958 campaign. Snider played one season each with the Mets (1963) and Giants (1964).

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on his 11th ballot in 1980.

"We shed a tear in Cooperstown for the man affectionately tabbed by his fans, 'The Duke of Flatbush,'" said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "There was no one classier or more easy going than Duke Snider. He was nationally renowned for his smooth fielding and powerful bat -- as evidenced by hitting more home runs in the 1950s than anyone else. He is still today revered by Brooklynites everywhere for patrolling center field in Ebbets Field with grace and dignity, leading the underdog Dodgers to five pennants and their only World Series title in New York, in 1955. Above it all, he was a fan favorite for his style of play, personality, accessibility, and fondness for playing stickball with kids in the street of Brooklyn."