This vintage United Press International telephoto was taken the day after the Mets purchased Duke Snider for $40,000 from the Los Angeles Dodgers and reuniting him with longtime teammate Gil Hodges. Of course that’s Mets manager Casey Stengel who’s chatting it up with Gil and Duke on the dugout steps just before an April 6th spring training game with the Baltimore Orioles.
The Duke wound up being the Mets lone representative in the All Star Game during his one season with the team in 1963. He played mostly in a platoon and bench role, but did hit 14 homers and tallied 45 RBI, 12 of which were game winning RBI to lead the team. He also led the team with a .746 OPS and a 115 OPS+ that season. Snider hit his 400th homer and got his 2,000th hit as a Met.
On September 12, 1963 the Mets honored him on Duke Snider Night at the Polo Grounds. Many of his former Brooklyn Dodger teammates were on hand including Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Carl Erskine, Carl Furillo, Don Newcombe and Ralph Branca. He retired the following season.
Playing for 18 seasons, Snider had 407 home runs and 2,116 hits. He batted at least .300 seven times, had a lifetime batting average of .295 and was generally among the league leaders in runs batted in and runs scored while playing a sterling defensive center field.
Snider was also a tremendous post season player compiling an impressive .286/.351/.594 batting line in 149 plate appearances. He was the only player to hit four home runs twice in a World Series, including in 1955, when the Dodgers defeated the Yankees, bringing Brooklyn its only World Series championship.
The Duke of Flatbush was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. He passed away last year on February 27 at the age of 84.