Dodgers remember Duke Snider
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tommy Lasorda remembered Duke Snider as a winner, a clutch player who also was easy-going and generous with young players.
"When I was a rookie on the team, he always seemed to make me feel good," Lasorda said Sunday after hearing of Snider's death during a spring training game at the Dodger's camp at Camelback Ranch. "He made me feel wanted. He made me feel like I was a part of the team.
"You know, when we'd ride on the bus, he'd call me back to where he sat and he'd have a beer with me," Lasorda said. "When you're that young and a guy like Duke Snider calls you back, you're in good shape. You feel pretty good about that."
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Lasorda had not been able to speak to Snider much since the Hall of Famer was hospitalized. Before Snider's health declined, Lasorda said he spoke to him often.
"We'd talk about Dodger baseball," Lasorda said. "That was his love and it's my love."
Mostly, Lasorda remembers Snider for his home runs.
"Hitting balls out of Ebbets Field and trotting around those bases," said Lasorda, who later became the Dodgers' manager. "That was Duke Snider. He could throw. He could field. He was one of the great, great players of our time. Check his World Series accomplishments."
"He was a winner," Lasorda added. "It is a tremendous loss for the Dodgers, for his family. I'm proud to say I was a teammate and friend of his."
In the Dodgers' clubhouse after a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, a sticker remembering Snider had been placed on a bulletin board next to the daily work schedule. It included Snider's jersey No. 4, with a red slash through it that said "Duke."
None of the current Dodgers could recall Snider as a player, of course, but 28-year-old Andre Ethier had met Snider and knew how important he was to franchise history.
"He was very complimentary of what you were doing," Ethier said. "He also had bunch of informantion and stuff to give. He was eager and wanted to be with the guys."
"I had seen him before in camp and at Dodger Stadium," Ethier said. "It's tough to see a legend, somebody who has done so much for this team, pass away. He was one of the founding fathers for what this franchise is all about."
The Dodgers' longtime traveling secretary, Billy DeLury, remembered meeting Snider when he was teenager working as an office boy for the franchise.
"It was 1952 or 1953," said DeLury, who is still working as a travel advisor for the Dodgers. "I remember a gentleman. He was just an outstanding individual. In Brooklyn, the fans just loved him. He played everyday and the fans knew he would be there."
DeLury remembered him best for two home runs in the 1955 World Series, but also for being friendly to an office boy who might otherwise have been intimidated by a big-name ballplayer.
"He would never push himself on you," DeLury said. "He always had time for everybody, on the road and at home."
First-year Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he first met Snider three or four years ago.
"It was during winter development," Mattingly said. "I just remember a very nice man. Obviously, he is a huge part of the Dodger history."
Then, Mattingly remembered an old line from a Snider era -- a lyric from Terry Cashman's "Talkin' Baseball" -- that included Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
"Willie, Mickey and the Duke, right?" Mattingly said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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