Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Duke of Flatbush

The Brooklyn Dodgers are revered in the house I grew up in. Especially the World Series winning 1955 team. My father grew up a Dodgers fan in Brooklyn at that time. As a result, I grew up hearing his stories about that team and that time in the city. The Dodgers have become a part of my own baseball traditions. I always re-read "The Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn before the start of Spring Training. I wear a #42 pin on my favorite jacket, surrounded by the pins for all of my favorite bands.

That reverence is one of the reasons I was so sad to learn of Duke Snider's passing today at the age of 84. The last of the regular starting Boys of Summer is gone. He goes to join Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Junior Gilliam, Billy Cox, Carl Furillo, and Jackie Robinson in baseball heaven.

I think it speaks of the timelessness of baseball and the men that play the game between generations. I never saw the Duke play a single game, but the news of his death brought tears to my eyes. In that way, baseball is eternal and its legends never really die. And that immortality is rather comforting.

Rest in peace, Mr. Snider. There's plenty of spectacular center field catches to be made in the hereafter.

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