Ryczek: Duke Carmel goes 0 for the Yankees

From SABR member Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on September 10, 2015:

“Do you realize,” the Yankees’ Duke Carmel told a reporter in the spring of 1965, “that I’m the only ballplayer in the major leagues from New York City?” What about Whitey Ford, Joe Torre, and Joe Pepitone? They were from Long Island or Brooklyn, Carmel explained, while he was from Manhattan, the only borough that was really New York.

Carmel’s given name was Leon, but he was known as Duke because he was one of the few Dodgers fans in East Harlem and was a great admirer of Brooklyn center fielder Duke Snider. Carmel was invited to try out with the Dodgers, but they didn’t sign him, and he eventually became a St. Louis Cardinal farmhand. Carmel’s first stop in the Cardinals organization was Albany, Georgia, a tremendous culture shock for a boy who’d spent his entire life in New York City. “I was born and raised in Little Italy,” he said. “The only salad dressing I knew was oil and vinegar. Thousand Island sounded weird.”

Carmel showed some power in the minors, hitting 29 homers at Billings in 1957, 23 for Tulsa in 1959, and 20 for Jacksonville in 1962. He had brief trials with the Cardinals in 1959 and 1960, and in 1963 he became the late-inning caddy for Stan Musial, then in his final season. In late July of that year, Duke was traded to the Mets, where he played in the outfield alongside the aging Snider, his boyhood idol. Polo Grounds fans were known for their imaginative banners, and that summer one of them read, “Casey, put up your Dukes.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/duke-carmel-goes-0-yankees

Originally published: September 11, 2015. Last Updated: September 11, 2015.