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Duke Snider and Mets Come to Terms

Feb. 13, 1964 - Duke Snider, the most distinguished New York Met in appearance and accomplishment, accepted a 1964 contract today for $32,000. This was a cut of $6,000 from his salary of last season. The 37-year-old outfielder, who has hit more than 400 home runs in National League competition, agreed to terms in a telephone conversation with Johnny Murphy, the club’s personnel director. Snider is at his home in California, while Murphy is in St. Petersburg, Fla., attending the rookie camp being conducted by manager Casey Stengel and his coaches.

“I think Snider can play two more years,” Stengel declared today, “if I use him right, and I have to confess that I didn’t use him the best way last year. I can’t tell you what number of games he’ll play, but I can say I’ll use better judgment about when he should play and when he shouldn’t. I know I handicapped him last year in my decisions as a manager when I pushed him two or three days too far. But we didn’t have enough other men on the club who could do the job, especially right-handed hitters, and I’d put him in when I knew I shouldn’t. But I know this — he’s a terrific ballplayer, and he still hits a lot of home runs — and they weren’t all Polo Grounds jobs. Some of them had good distance on them.”

If Snider can start 90 to 100 games as a right fielder and pinch hit the rest of the time, he will do all that can be expected from a man his age who has had chronic knee trouble. Duke is aware of this. He expected a pay cut and was willing to take one because he realized he didn’t play full time last year and couldn’t this year. The first Met offer of $30,000 represented a cut of 21%, and Snider felt that this was a little too much. He wrote back and expressed his feeling, sounding out the possibility of being a player-coach. “He’s not a coach, he’s a player because I think he can still play,” Stengel said. “I want him in the best shape, and it’s up to me to make it possible for him to do his best.”


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