Another Hall-of-Famer Passes

| February 7, 2014

Ralph Kiner passed away the yesterday.  He was 91.

Kiner was a longtime broadcaster for the New York Mets – for over 50 years, actually.  He was noted for his baseball malaprops, and for “Kiner’s Corner” – an area near the leftfield corner of Shea Stadium where Kiner held his post-game show.

But Kiner should be remembered for more.  He was a legitimate Hall of Famer based on his performance on the diamond.  His career was cut short – 10 seasons, the bare minimum for HOF consideration – due to chronic back issues.  Yet at the time he retired, he was 6th on the all-time home run list with 369 – and had hit 329 in his first 8 seasons, leading his league 7 times and both leagues 6 times.

Kiner’s career slugging percentage was nearly .550 (.548), and his career on-base percentage was nearly .400 (.398).  He had over 1450 hits, over 1000 RBIs, and over 1000 walks during his career.  Though his election took until his last year of eligibility, Kiner was a legitimate HOFer.  Had his career not been cut short by injury we might be talking about him in the same breath as other legendary baseball power hitters like Mantle, Ruth, Mays, Williams, and Aaron.

Kiner played mostly for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They weren’t good enough during his playing days to make the World Series.  Had they done so, or had Kiner played mostly in NY or Chicago – we’d likely remember more about his career.

Why post this here?  Because Kiner’s MLB career spanned the immediate post-World War II years:  1946-1955.  It began a bit late for that era, at age 22.

It began late because prior to 1946 he was otherwise occupied.  Kiner was a US Navy pilot during World War II.  He flew ASW missions in the Pacific theater.

Baseball historian Marty Noble has called Kiner “one of baseball’s genuine and most charming gentlemen”.  That’s a fine tribute to a truly fine man – and for 10 years, a truly great player.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kiner.

Category: Baseball, Blue Skies

Comments (7)

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  1. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I’m not a huge baseball fan but I do know Mr. Kiner had a career lasting 50+ years as an announcer. I am also aware he was quality human, more sports figures like this would go a long way towards creating a professional sports atmosphere that is useful to a society instead of a sports atmosphere that seems to emphasize a great deal of what is wrong with celebrity.

    Mr. Kiner and his ilk are too few these days, may he rest in peace.

  2. Devtun says:

    NYP has a collection of a few notable “Kinerisms”…
    http://nypost.com/2014/02/06/remembering-some-of-ralphs-best-kinerisms/

    Baseball institution Jerry Coleman passed just over a month ago, and now Ralph…
    -RIP-

  3. Sparks says:

    Big baseball fan and will miss Ralph Kiner. Also I thank him for his service, which I never knew about until reading this. Another of the greatest generation is gone. Rest In Peace Mr. Kiner.

    Thanks Hondo.

  4. Siggurdsson says:

    Hondo: I read in a couple of places today that Mr. Kiner averaged a home run every 14 times he came to the plate. That’s a pretty good stat…

  5. Green Thumb says:

    @4.

    Yeah it is.

  6. trapperfrank says:

    Not only a great baseball player, but a decent human being and a patriot to boot. RIP Mr. Kiner and may God bath you in the warmth of his love and light.

  7. Adirondack Patriot says:

    One of my favorite memories of Kiner occurred a few years ago. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were talking about Hernandez’ as a reputation as a ladies’ man (thanks to Seinfeld).

    They asked Kiner, who was like 85 at the time, “Hey, Ralph didn’t you date Marilyn Monroe?” He said yes.

    They asked him, “So, did you and her. . . ????”

    He snapped back, “Guys, it was Marilyn Monroe. What do you think?” The whole set broke out laughing uncontrollably.

    By the way, Ralph also dated Elizabeth Taylor when she was smoking hot and young.

    Not bad, Ralph. Not bad.

    RIP.