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Duke Snider Honored at the Polo Grounds

Sept. 12, 1963 - Admirers of silver-haired outfielder Duke Snider crowded into the Polo Grounds tonight to honor an authentic baseball hero in a far from perfectly appropriate setting. As Duke himself said, he was being honored as a Brooklyn Dodger. Yet the site was the Polo Grounds, most hated of enemy fields when the Dodgers made their home at Ebbets Field. The opposing team was the hated Giants, now based in San Francisco but still owned and managed by men who fought Brooklyn most bitterly. And the Mets, Duke’s team only for the last few months, were under the direction of George Weiss and Casey Stengel — men who knew Snider primarily as a dangerous obstacle to Yankee World Series victories when they were in charge of the Yanks. Happily, as is usually the case with the Mets, no one paid the slightest attention to logic, paradox, or mixed-up associations. All the nostalgia was based on Ebbets Field, which no longer exists, and no one pretended otherwise. Snider was thrilled by the tribute. “Ladies and gentlemen, my former Dodger teammates, my present teammates,” Duke said. “I really don’t know what to say. I look up into the stands and it looks like Ebbets Field. The Mets are wonderful, but you can’t take the Dodger out of Brooklyn.” The crowd cheered, but one sourpuss muttered, “O’Malley could — and did.” After Duke’s speech, the Giants beat the Mets, 6-0. It was to be the last appearance of the Giants in the Polo Grounds, for by next season Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow, Queens, is expected to be ready.


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