The Dodgers have been so fortunate over the years to have such incredible players wear the uniform and eventually reach the Hall of Fame. Yet there are just 10 who have left such an indelible mark on the franchise that their number is retired and of course, one of those 10 is Duke Snider.
So when he passed away earlier this year, it was an obvious decision to wear a patch in his memory all season long and yet, there was so much more we wanted to do to honor one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform – and the franchise’s all-time home run leader.
One thing we had never really done as an organization was to put a logo or symbol in the grass and the idea was posed that we put his #4 in center field, where he once roamed. With lots of hard work from our grounds crew, they made it look just right.
We also wanted to pay tribute to the Brooklyn club, with which he spent so much of his career, so the players wore their Brooklyn hats, a fitting tribute.
Of course, we also wanted the family to be involved in the tribute, so not only did we have nearly 40 of them here at the game, we were able to incorporate many of them in the pregame ceremony. Several of Duke’s great grandchildren took the field with the Dodgers, while one of his granddaughter’s sang the anthem and his four kids threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His nephew uttered Vin Scully’s famous words “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball” and Tommy Lasorda was there to present a gift on behalf of the organization.
But it was just as important to involve the fans, so we distributed Duke Snider bobbleheads as a keepsake and we lobbed a call into the Hall of Fame, which rarely lets the plaques leave Cooperstown but immediately said ‘yes’ and allowed us to give fans the opportunity to photograph themselves with the historic piece.
When it was all said and done, we’re hopeful that you all, and his family, found this to be a fitting tribute to a man who meant so much to this organization and who was so beloved by so many. Were any of you on hand for the ceremonies and did you get a chance to take a photo with the plaque? What did you think of the event overall? Would love your feedback to see if it’s something we might do again with our friends in Cooperstown.