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 Sunday. He was 84.
Snider died at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif., said the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which announced the death on behalf of the family. Snider had been ill for months. His family said he died of natural causes.
"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," goes the popular song, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.
Snider wore No. 4 in Dodger blue and was often regarded as the third-best center fielder in New York -- behind Willie Mays of the Giants and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees -- during what many fans considered the city's golden era of baseball.
Snider was a key figure in Roger Kahn's classic The Boys of Summer as well as Terry Cashman's anthem Talkin' Baseball. He was a favorite among the Brooklyn faithful and will truly be missed.