16 May 2013

Two of Baseball Royalty, But Little Duke

In New York City's 1950s there were three grand centerfields where baseball was played at the highest level. In Allan Barra's Mickey and Willie the lords of two of those fields, the Yankee and the Giant, are remembered and re-celebrated. The mere Duke of the other field, the Dodger Snider, receives little love of a similar vein, perhaps just because when the journo was young — as he tells the story in his preface — and his father brought home four packs of Topps cards and gum, Mantle and Mays cards fell from one and Snider was nowhere to be seen, which is more or less how he figures in the dual bio Barra wrote to answer for himself why he once worshipped them.

Publicly gracious, each player praised the other as the greater. Neither offered Snider (and his Brooklyns) as the equal of the Manhattan CFs  — although Donald Honig did celebrate the three equally a few years ago in Mays, Mantle and Snider. For most who care about those days and players, the only real question to be answered is whether Willie was better or the Mick was. (In appendices, Barra seems to side with those who believe Mays better in performance and Mantle better at their ultimate best.) Snider, however, gets short shrift ... perhaps all because his mug didn't fall out of a card and gum package.

Could it be true that upon such turns of fate sports journalism turns?

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