Monday, June 4, 2012

1960 TOPPS DUKE SNIDER

I HAVE SOME WILLIES, SOME MICKEYS AND FINALLY A DUKE.
ALSO LED THE NL IN WALKS (99), OBP (.499) AND SLUGGING (.598)

THE FRONT PAGE

  • Instead of a single wrap-up post or two about my monthly card show experience, I'll break it down in six separate posts of nice individual finds
  • And I'll start with this one, my first card of Duke Snider, one of The Boys of Summer. By '60, Snider was a player in decline, but he did play a big role in the Dodgers getting to the World Series the year before, in which they swept the Chicago White Sox. In his last good season, Snider hit 23 HRs and drove in 88, hitting .308. In '60, those numbers dropped to 14/36/.243.

THE BACK PAGE

  • I like the '60 cards' bullet-point style, but I'd still prefer complete season batting/pitching stats.
  • You could tell The Duke was near the end of his career because some of his highlights were pinch-hitting exploits. 
  • But when you see he had multiple homer games, you know he wasn't totally washed up.
  • Cool cartoon. 
  • You could see his lifetime batting average was hovering just over .300 with the real possibility he could wind up under that gold standard for his career. He did, retiring after the '64 season at .295.

PHOTO PLAY

  • So much color splashes forth from this card.
  • Snider had a classic baseball physique.
  • Brooklyn fans must cringe when they see their heroes' cards with "Los Angeles'' on the front.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • The Duke of Flatbush  was a native of Los Angeles, so the move west was a homecoming of sorts. If you read his autobiography, you know how much he came to love Brooklyn  and how the fans idolized him and rest of the Dem Bums.
  • A neat fact from the book: Snider noted how the players lived among the fans in the borough, rode the trolleys and worked jobs there in the off-season. Little separation existed between them and the fans. Thank goodness money, limos and entourages took care of that nonsense. 
  • Became a star in '49, hitting 23 homers and driving in 92.
  • Snider's career reached a precipice in '51, the year the Dodgers blew a 13-game August lead to the Giants and lost in the one-game playoff. He hit .277 that season, down from .321 in '50, and the fans were on him. After the season, Snider met with owner Walter O'Malley and basically said he couldn't take the pressure and thought he should be traded. Of course, he wasn't and Brooklyn soon grew to love The Duke.
  • Hit 40 or more homers five consecutive years ('53-'57); between '53-'56, he averaged 42 HRs, 124 RBI, 123 runs and hit .320. That's raking.
  • The Dodgers finally bested their No. 1 tormentors, the Yankees, in the '55 World Series, when Snider hit .320 with four homers in the seven games.
  • There was controversy over the NL MVP voting that year, in which Roy Campanella edged Snider by five points. One story has it that a writer who was in the hospital submitted a ballot that had Campy listed first and fifth. It was thought the writer wanted Snider in the fifth position. Unable to check with the ill writer, the baseball writers association gave the first-place vote to Campanella and disallowed the fifth-place vote. Had the entire ballot been disallowed, Snider would've won the voting 221-212. If Snider would've been given the fifth-place vote, Snider would've won 227-226. It was later reported that the story wasn't totally correct. The writer who left Snider off the ballot listed Campy first and sixth. Had that been counted, it would've created a tie for the award. Got all that? There will be a test at the end of this post. Snider did win The Sporting News' NL Player of the Year in '55 without controversy.
  • The Dodgers' move to their temporary home in the L.A. Coliseum didn't help Snider. The right-field fence was 440-feet away, so his power numbers dropped.
  • If it was difficult for Brooklyn fans to stomach Snider wearing the interlocking "LA'' on his cap, image how they felt when he ended his career in San Francisco wearing the interlocking "SF'' on his cap. 



THE DUKE WAS A NICE GUY, GRANDFATHERLY,
 WHEN I GOT HIS AUTOGRAPH.

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