THE JEWEL OF FLATBUSH: THE DUKE SNIDER STORY

He was every sandlot player's fantasy: < good looks, grace, poetry and power. A duke. To his teammates, however, the Lord of Flatbush was a petulant, bull-headed, sometimes defiant superstar who always did it his way. This episode will show the love-hate relationship Duke Snider had with Brooklyn, as well as his frequent bouts with diffidence that prompted the New York Daily News headline: "All Sure Snider Has It -- All Except Snider." Pete Rozelle and Gene Mauch recall the charismatic young Duke Snider who played ball in Compton, California. Duke recounts the time Dodger scout Tom Downey showed up on his doorstep with a typewriter in hand. "We're going to sign you." The 17-year-old went to Bear Mountain, the Dodgers' wartime training camp, and immediately became known as a problem child when he balked at the rigid discipline and concerted training program favored by Branch Rickey. The irrepressible Duke talks with warmth and humor about his experiences in the minor leagues and in the Navy during the war. Back in the States, he finds himself on the playing field with men he had idolized since boyhood --

Joe DiMaggio, Dixie Walker, and Pete Reiser, whose bouts with the centerfield wall put him out of commission and brought Duke to the position in which he vied for prominence with Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. In his last interview before his death, Mantle talks about the rivalry. The funny stories told by Duke are equalled by the anecdotes told by his former teammates. Also seen is an old Ovaltine commercial featuring Duke, a kitschy example of the marriage of commercialism and hero worship that has culminated in the Shaq Attack beneath the Golden Arches. While New York talked about who was the best centerfielder, California was talking about luring two of those centerfielders to the west coast. Los Angeles City Councilwoman Roz Wyman tells of her dream of bringing the Dodgers to her home town. The viewer will also learn how fear of communism, and some help from a young senator named Richard Nixon, scotched a housing program in Chavez Ravine, leaving the land clear for the dream that Wyman shared with mayor Norris Poulson.

Duke tells about playing the last game in Ebbets Field and about the animosity he encountered when he was misquoted by a reporter who wrote that Duke was glad the team was leaving. "I was born in Los Angeles," says Duke, "but I was born and raised baseball-wise in Brooklyn." Duke is still making news. He speaks frankly about his troubles with the IRS, his regret that he may have disillusioned his fans, and his eagerness to show that their regard was not misplaced. He pays tribute to his wife and to the sheer pleasure of living: "Pee Wee and I are the only two living members of the starting eight in the '55 Brooklyn Dodger lineup. How much longer we got I don't know, but we're gonna have a whale of a time between now and when it's over."

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