Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider dies at 84

Duke Snider, the Hall of Fame center fielder for the charmed "Boys of Summer" who helped the Dodgers bring their elusive and only World Series crown to Brooklyn, died early Sunday of what his family called natural causes. He was 84.

Snider died at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif., according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which announced the death on behalf of the family.

"The Duke of Flatbush" hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two titles. But the eight-time All-Star was defined by much more than his stats - he was, after all, part of the love affair between the borough of Brooklyn and "Dem Bums" who lived in the local neighborhoods.

Ebbets Field was filled with stars such as Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges during that 1955 championship season. Yet it is Snider's name that refrains in the ballpark favorite "Talkin' Baseball."

"Willie, Mickey, and the Duke," the popular song goes.

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