One of my favorite card show memories of the mid-1980s occurred at one of John and Wanda Marcus' Arlington, Tex., shows at which Duke Snider had been contracted as an autograph guest.
In the dealer hospitality room (I'll bet they don't have those at many card shows today) after the show closed on Saturday evening, Duke Snider strolled in, sat down and talked baseball for several hours.
Snider was a broadcaster with the Expos at the time. He was every inch the jovial "Silver Fox," and thoroughly captivated the baseball fans in the room. I had the chance to ask him about my then-favorite player, Expos catcher Razor Shines. I don't remember now what Snider had to say -- or, really, could have said -- about Shines, but I'll bet he tried his best not to cast him in any negative light.
Snider's appearance in the hospitality room that night stood in sharp contrast to how many, if not most, former major leaguers treated their card-show appearances in that era. Most guests wanted as little as possible to do with fan/collector interaction beyond what the terms of their signing contracts specified.
I guess that's why Duke Snider was among the most popular of the 1950s Dodgers, and remained so with an entirely new generation after his playing days. I believe his popularity will live on for a long while, even though he died earlier this year.
There was certainly no shortage of Duke Snider cards issued during and after his playing days. He appeared on Bowman cards every year from 1949-54, and on Topps cards 1951-52 and 1954-64. As a member of the popular Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers teams of the 1950s, he also appeared on many regional card issues from Red Man tobacco to Dan-Dee potato chips, Briggs hot dogs, etc.
Snider's days as an Expos coach, however, are marked only by a pair of cards in the 1975 SSPC collectors' issue -- until now.
The latest in my series of 1970s-1980s coaches custom cards adds to Duke Snider's legacy. It is based on a photo from the Topps archives. I could have chosen to work up the card in either the 1974 or 1975 style, since Snider was on the Expos' staff both seasons, in between stints as a Montreal broadcaster.
The other choice I had, was whether to use the "Edwin D. Snider" facsimile autograph that appeared on his Topps cards between 1952-59, or go with the "Duke Snider" signature that appeared on his Bell Brand snack chip cards of 1959-1962. You can see which way I fell.
My to-do list contains at least two more Duke Snider cards, a 1955 Bowman and 1965 Topps. I'm not sure whether these cards will get done in the very near future, or if I'll be switching gears to work on some football cards first. Keep watching this space.