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Ralph Kiner

Outfielder
Born: October 27, 1922 (1922-10-27) (age 87)
Santa Rita, New Mexico
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 12, 1946 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1955 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average     .279
Home runs     369
Runs batted in     1,105
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1975
Vote     75.41%

Ralph McPherran Kiner (born October 27, 1922) is an American former Major League Baseball player and current announcer. Though injuries forced his retirement after ten seasons, Kiner's tremendous slugging outpaced nearly all of his National League contemporaries between the years 1946 and 1954. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.

Contents

Playing career

Kiner was born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, and grew up in Alhambra, California. He made his major league debut on April 16, 1946 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1947, he hit 51 home runs. Many of Kiner's homers were hit into a shortened left-field and left-center-field porch at Forbes Field, originally built for Hank Greenberg, and known in the press as "Greenberg Gardens"; the porch was retained for Kiner and redubbed "Kiner's Korner".[1] Kiner would later use "Kiner's Korner" as the title of his post-game TV show in New York.[2]

In 1949, Kiner topped his 1947 total with 54 home runs, falling just two short of Hack Wilson's National League record. It was the highest total in the major leagues from 1939 to 1960, and the highest National League total from 1931 to 1997. It made Kiner the first National League player with two fifty-plus seasons. Kiner also matched his peak of 127 RBIs. From 1947 to 1951, Kiner topped 40 home runs and 100 RBIs each season. His string of seasons leading the league in home runs reached seven in 1952, when he hit 37. This was also the last of a record six consecutive seasons in which he led Major League Baseball in home runs, all under the guidance of manager Billy Meyer and Pirate great Honus Wagner. He was selected to participate in the All-Star Game in six straight seasons, 1948 to 1953.[3] He holds (by himself) the major league record of eight home runs in four consecutive multi-homer games, a mark that he set in September, 1947.

A quote variously attributed to Kiner himself, as well as to teammates talking about Kiner, was "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords."[4] Footage of Kiner hitting a homer in Forbes Field can be seen in the 1951 film, Angels in the Outfield.

On June 4, 1953, Kiner was sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of a ten-player trade. This was largely due to continued salary disputes with Pirate general manager Branch Rickey, who reportedly told Kiner, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you."

Kiner played the rest of 1953 and all of 1954 with the Cubs, finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1955. A back injury forced his retirement at the age of 32, with 369 home runs, 1019 runs batted in and a .279 lifetime batting average.

Kiner was not known for speed. In contrast to radio's "Quiz Kids" or the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies "Whiz Kids", according to Chicago columnist Mike Royko the 1950s Cubs had an outfield "that was so slow they were known as the Quicksand Kids." Hank Sauer played left field, Frank Baumholtz played center field, and Kiner split his time between left, center and right field. [5]

Broadcasting career

In 1961, Kiner entered the broadcast booth for the Chicago White Sox. The following year, Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy began broadcasting the games of the expansion New York Mets on WOR-TV in New York. The trio rotated announcing duties. Kiner also hosted a post-game show known as "Kiner's Korner" on WOR-TV.

Kiner was known for his occasional malapropisms, usually connected with getting people's names wrong, such as calling broadcasting partner Tim McCarver as "Tim MacArthur". He even once called himself "Ralph Korner".[6]

Despite a bout with Bell's palsy, which left him with slightly slurred speech,[7] Kiner is still broadcasting, entering his 47th year of doing Mets broadcasts as of the start of the 2009 baseball season, though only as an occasional guest analyst. He is the only broadcaster to survive all of the Mets history; Nelson had left the Mets for the San Francisco Giants in 1979, and Murphy retired in 2003. (Nelson died in 1995 and Murphy in 2004.) Kiner's traditional home run call -- "it is gone, goodbye" or "that ball is gone, goodbye" -- is a signature phrase in baseball.

Kiner appears occasionally on SNY, the TV home of the Mets. During these visits (usually once a week) the booth of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling make room for Kiner as he shares stories of old-time baseball, the current state of baseball, as well as the current game itself.

Legacy

A statue of Kiner at Almansor Park in his boyhood town of Alhambra, California.

Kiner was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.[8] Kiner had garnered 273 votes by the Baseball Writers Association, one more than the minimum required for election. It was in his final year of eligibility (his 13th, as no vote was held in 1963 and 1965), and it was the closest call possible for any player elected by the BBWAA. (He would have had a chance later with the Veteran's Committee had he not been elected by the BBWAA). Kiner was also the only player voted in that year.[9][10]

Kiner was also elected to the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1984.[11]

The Pittsburgh Pirates retired his uniform number 4 in 1987.[12]

The Sporting News placed him at number 90 on its 1999 list of "The 100 Greatest Baseball Players", and he was one of the 100 finalists for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team that year. The Mets honored him with an on-field ceremony on "Ralph Kiner Night" at Shea Stadium on Saturday, July 14, 2007. On that night, fans were handed out photos of Kiner. Tom Seaver was present on that night. Seaver gave a commemorative speech recalling Kiner's legacy. Other guests of note were Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, and broadcaster Ernie Harwell. As a present from the Mets, Kiner received a cruise of his choice. [13]

See also

References

  1. ^ Ritter, Lawrence (1992). Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields. Penguin USA. p. 66–67. ISBN 0-1402-3422-5.  
  2. ^ Ralph Kiner Quotes. Baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  3. ^ Ralph Kiner Statistics. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  4. ^ The Baseball Biography Project. Bioproj.Sabr.Org. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  5. ^ One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko, University of Chicago, 1999, p.29-31
  6. ^ Jerry Coleman and Ralph Kiner give their listeners - 05.20.85 - SI Vault. Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com (1985-05-20). Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  7. ^ Sandomir, Richard (1999-03-12). "Kiner Signs A 2-Year Deal". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E1D9143EF931A25750C0A96F958260. Retrieved 2008-05-06.  
  8. ^ National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Hall of Famer detail. Baseballhalloffame.org (1922-10-27). Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  9. ^ http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/enterworkflow.do?flowId=playerDetails.playerDetails&searchType=sort
  10. ^ National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Hall of Fame Vote Totals. Baseballhalloffame.org. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  11. ^ Mets Hall of Fame | mets.com: History. Newyork.mets.mlb.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  12. ^ Pirates Retired Numbers | pirates.com: History. Pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  13. ^ Heyman, Brian (2007-07-15). "Kiner honored before Mets game". The Journal News.  

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ralph McPherran Kiner (born October 27, 1922) is an American former Major League Baseball player and current announcer. Kiner has been an announcer for the entire 46-year history of the New York Mets despite (or perhaps because of) a penchant for malapropisms and colorful sayings, similar to another beloved New York baseball player, Yogi Berra.

Unsourced

  • ... he makes the catch, running over his shoulder!
    • heard in his first year as a broadcaster, for the White Sox
  • If Casey Stengel were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave.
  • On Fathers Day, we again wish you all happy birthday.
  • Solo homers usually come with no one on base.
  • (Don) Sutton lost thirteen games in a row without winning a ballgame.
  • The Hall of Fame ceremonies are on the thirty-first and thirty-second of July.
  • The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on only once this inning.
  • The reason the Mets have played so well at Shea this year is they have the best home record in baseball.
  • Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water and the other third is covered by Garry Maddox.

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