Imagine flags in Brooklyn in a park no longer there.
They're at half-mast, those phantom flags, like someone's silent prayer
Above the echoes of a team that long ago moved west,
Becoming, somehow, less itself and more like all the rest.
Duke Snider played in center field and mostly batted third.
Though that was many years ago, and though it seems absurd,
As boys we raised our voices and our passions in those days
In arguing for Snider, or for Mantle, or for Mays.
Duke Snider hit the last homerun that cleared a Brooklyn wall.
Years later, New York brought him back, and he enjoyed a small
And poignant triumph with a team that almost always failed.
On '63's atrocious Mets Duke Snider was impaled.
But he had his two thousandth hit, and hammered the homerun
That brought him to four hundred, and that had to have been fun.
Those Mets provided him a night, an honor for the man
Who said that he remembered Brooklyn fondly, like a fan.
He'd been retired for forty years and change, and now he's gone.
But in the minds of those of us who saw him, he lives on -
A part of that triumvirate, from long-gone sandlot days.
On wooden benches we would shout of Snider, Mantle, Mays,
And then we'd take the dusty field, as we did every day,
And never think the time would come when we'd no longer play.
It's silly, hero worship, and the heroes all fall short.
It's true of every champion. It's true of every sport.
But that's a cold and dreary fact and this is not the time
For chronicling the falling off from that which was sublime…
The summer time when Snider played in Brooklyn, and the days
When we would pull for Mantle, or for Snider, or for Mays.
This program aired on March 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.