Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Nice Spring Night for a Boy of Summer

Courtesy of L.A. Times
By Bill Dwyre
May 16, 2006

The old Dodger walked slowly. He will be 80 in September and has an arthritic leg, so rushing wasn't a consideration. Nor would it have served any purpose.

This was another quiet homecoming for Duke Snider.He lives in Fallbrook and says he comes back once or twice a year. To be sure, it wasn't Ebbets Field, but a Dodger in Dodger Stadium knows he is home. If he needed more assurance, Snider needed only to recall that his single to center field was the first Dodger hit in Dodger Stadium.

That was opening day, 1962, the only year Snider played there. It was his last of 16 years as a Dodger, followed by unproductive, phase-out years with the New York Mets in '63 and the San Francisco Giants in '64.

"By then, I couldn't play," he says. "But I had four kids to feed." The elevator opened to a tunnel leading to the field. Along the walls were huge pictures of star players, some whose numbers have been retired, some who are in the Hall of Fame. There were Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella — many others. And there, where it belonged, was No. 4, a number retired in 1980, the same year its owner was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

The Duke of Flatbush, the center fielder of the Boys of Summer, now stood among them.

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