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.
There’s so much coverage out there right now about Duke Snider’s passing, it’s hard to fathom. Rightfully so, of course. He’s arguably the greatest offensive player in franchise history and holds so many team records it’s almost impossible to list them all.
But what’s also somewhat unique is just how long it’s been since we lost one of our legendary Dodgers. There are 10 uniforms retired and prior to yesterday, the Dodgers had not lost any of these great figures since Pee Wee Reese back in August of 1999.
Fortunately, we still have a trio of Hall of Fame legends who are with us today – Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and Don Sutton, along with legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin. Not to mention legends like Don Newcombe, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Rick Monday, Fernando Valenzuela, Wes Parker, Dr. Frank Jobe, Billy DeLury and of course, all those who played the majority of their careers in the 80s, 90s and 00s. The list of these legends could go on for pages.
A day like yesterday is the ultimate reminder that we need to learn all we can from these gentlemen while they are here with us. We are so lucky to have all these people at the Stadium on a regular basis and they helped create the franchise we’ve all come to know and love.
If you see them out and about, be sure to tell them how much they mean to you and the Dodgers.