Duke Snider chats online with fans
Hall of Famer recounts his days in a Dodgers uniform
Dodgers legend Duke Snider fielded fans' questions during an online chat on Thursday. The Hall of Famer, who was the biggest bat in Brooklyn's potent lineup of the 1950s, talked about the tough pitchers of his era and shared his opinion on the game today.
Duke Snider: I'd like to thank everyone for participating and logging on today. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can.
Base_Ball: How did you get the nickname of Duke?
Snider: The way I got it was that my father one day said to me, "Here comes the Duke," when I came in from playing. My name was Edwin, and that name wasn't very memorable. My Dad decided to give me that name and everyone called me that, except my mother, who named me Edwin.
Base_Ball: How different was it to play in Los Angeles from Brooklyn?
Snider: Well, there were a lot of differences. Brooklyn was our home -- we were born there, as far as baseball was concerned. The people of Brooklyn made us feel at home, and they were very knowledgeable. When we came to LA, it was nice because I was born there. But LA was really a football area when we moved out there. Slowly, it became a baseball town. The fans had to learn a little about baseball, which they did. We, as players, helped them, as did Vin Scully.
mlb_com_member: How did it feel when you hit the last home run at Brooklyn's famed Ebbets Field on Sept. 22, 1957?
Snider: I didn't know that the homer I hit was going to be the last one. There were several more games to be played. But it's an interesting thing -- my 40th homer that year was the last one hit there. I didn't play in the last two games at Ebbets, but no homers were hit. Being that my last at-bat in Brooklyn was a home run, that's special.
Base_Ball: What was it like to win a World Series in 1955 after coming so close for so long?
Snider: It was something we dreamed about as kids. As a kid, I dreamed of playing in the World Series against the Yankees. In LA as a kid, I wasn't a Dodgers fan until the 1941 World Series, when the Yanks beat the Dodgers. As a kid watching that Series, I watched Pete Reiser, and little did I know that one day I'd take his place in center field and play in the World Series with the Dodgers. Pete became one of my best friends, so that was special.
Brett_Butler: What does it mean to you to return to Cooperstown each summer?
Snider: I enjoy going to Cooperstown. It's a lovely community and a fun place to be. I like to get back and see some of my old friends and former opponents. It's nice to rehash the old memories we have. I'm looking forward to being in town on July 27 and being at the induction on July 31.
mlb_com_member: From 1941 to 1961, how was it to play with Gil Hodges and hitting 745 homers together?
Snider: I've always thought Gil was a Hall of Famer. He led by example. He played the game very well. He was one of the best defensive first basemen ever to play the game, in my opinion. I think Gil has been overlooked, and I wish my HOF member friends would take a look at him. He proved his leadership when he managed the 1969 Mets to the championship. He was a fine gentleman, and I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Base_Ball: Do you still go to a lot of Dodgers games?
Snider: I don't go to many games. I can see just about all I want on TV. I went to Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, and on Aug. 28 they're honoring the 1955 Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, and I'm looking forward to that.
Base_Ball_2: Who is the best left-hander you ever saw? Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax or someone else?
Snider: You gave me some pretty good ones right there! I think the greatest pitcher I ever saw was Sandy Koufax. Fortunately, I was his teammate and didn't have to face him. When I knew he was pitching, I looked forward to coming to the park and watching him. I think Sandy and Juan Marichal were the two best I saw pitch. I faced Marichal and he was tough. I didn't face Juan when I was in my prime, and I'd like to have faced him in my prime. But Marichal was great.
Base_Ball: Did you feel overshadowed by Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays while playing in New York?
Snider: We didn't have a chance to feel overshadowed. We were overshadowed by the Giants when they won the pennant. Individual numbers weren't our concern. We were worried about the win/loss column. We were focused on the team effort. The newspapers compared Willie, Mickey and I, and that was their thing. As a team, we competed with the Giants, and we faced the Yankees in the World Series. So we had a rivalry as a team, that was it. It was an honor to be compared to them, they were both great players.
steveschmoll: I'd like to thank you for taking the time to chat with us this morning. If you could be Commissioner of Major League Baseball, what would you change and why?
Snider: There are several things I'd like to change. Let me tell a quick story first: Preacher Roe was down in Fantasy Camp a few years ago. When he pitched he was 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds -- he was built like a pencil! They asked him in Fantasy Camp what he was most proud of from his career. He said, "I'm proud of my complete games." Roe would complete most of his games, and that's what's so different today. I'd change the save rule, which I think is a joke today. Don't get me wrong, there are great relievers today, but any pitcher can get a save when they pitch one inning with a three-run lead. I'd change the save rule, but I'm not sure they'd let the Commissioner even do that. As far as Interleague Play, I liked it at first, but I think it loses something when you have teams play that don't have a natural rivalry. It's fun to watch the Dodgers and Angels and Cubs and White Sox, but some teams don't have a rivalry, and that's not as exciting. Overall, though, I think Interleague has been good.
Base_Ball: Are you excited about the Hall of Fame Fantasy Camp, and is it going to be special being with a lot of baseball greats such as yourself? You are a true Dodger, thanks Mr. Snider.
Snider: I go to two Fantasy Camps a year at Vero Beach and I have a lot of fun. I meet a lot of great baseball fans. It builds camaraderie. We all stay at the same place and eat together and so on. In Cooperstown, I'll be managing one of the teams, and Carl Erskine will be my coach. We see each other a lot, and it will be fun. We have a great time in Vero and I know we'll have a great time in Cooperstown.
Snider: Thanks to all of you for asking questions. I really enjoyed myself. I hope to see you all in Cooperstown in a few weeks for Hall of Fame Weekend.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.