October 14, 2011

It was a thrill to meet Duke Snider, a childhood hero

Click on photo to enlarge


One of the joys of attending numerous major card shows in the 1970s and 1980s was the opportunity to meet many of our baseball heroes.

In early October of 1979, we didn't have to journey very far from our Long Island home to meet one of our childhood favorites, Duke Snider. Vivian and I were Brooklyn Dodgers fans, but following the 1957 season they escaped to Los Angeles.

Relocating with them was their centerfielder and future Hall of Famer, known in New York as the Duke of Flatbush. Flatbush is a section of Brooklyn. Snider was a Southern Californian, but like many of his Brooklyn fans and teammates, he was crushed by the move. Brooklyn had become home to him.

Here is a photo caption from the November 1979 issue of Baseball Hobby News:

Vivian Barning, publisher of Baseball Hobby News, got closer to Duke Snider than just about anyone else at the New York City Superstar Show. When introduced to the Duke by show promoter Harmon Cooper, Snider said, "I'm pleased to meet you." Vivian's response was, "You've got to be kidding. I'm thrilled to meet you."

Duke lived in Fallbrook, California, a half hour or so north of San Diego. Coincidentally, she is wearing a San Diego Padres shirt. In 1982, the Barnings moved to San Diego, became Padres fans, and lived there until 2005.

Snider passed away at age 84 in February. The Los Angeles Dodgers honored him by wearing his No. 4 on their uniform sleeves this past season.


Anonymous said...

From John Sterbenz in Michigan:

I always enjoy reading your blogs. Great stuff.

I've read The Duke was always a gentleman. The warmth on his face with his arm wrapped around Vivian's shoulder clearly displays that warmth. A GREAT photo. I have the fondest childhood memories of adding and keeping Duke's 1952 Topps card among my most prized possessions alongside the horizontal Gil Hodges card from the same set.

Keep up your great work.

ktray said...

Duke Snider is one of my all-time sports heroes. I grew up in a Brooklyn Dodger household, saw them play in Ebbets Field( 5 years old in 1955) and first learned art of polemics in the great Mays- Mantle -Snider debates on my block that continued to rage years after Snider and Mays split for the west coast..