Obit of the Day: The Pirates’ Only Living Hall of Famer
So many trivia questions, so little time:
What player has the most career home runs in their first 5 seasons?
Who is the only player to lead his league in home runs for 7 consecutive seasons?
Who was the first National League slugger to hit 50+ home runs in two consecutive seasons?
Who was the second person, after Babe Ruth, to hit at least 40 home runs in five consecutive seasons?
Who was the only National Leaguer to hit at least 54 home runs between 1931 and 1997?
The answer to all of these questions is “Ralph Kiner.”
And yet, he was barely elected to the Hall of Fame, receiving 273 votes (he needed 272) in 1975 his 15th and final year of eligibility, from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he set all those records, didn’t retire his uniform number, 4, for another twelve years.
Part of the reason for the Hall of Fame delay was his limited time on the field. Mr. Kiner retired from baseball at age 32 after a back injury made it impossible for him to play. It was so hampering that after his first seven seasons he had hit 294 home runs, but in his last three only 75.
And the Pirates were terrible during his time with the franchise. Between the time Mr. Kiner joined the team in 1946 and when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1953, Pittsburgh never finished higher than fourth and usually in the bottom half of the National League standings. (Later Pirates Hall of Famers, like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, were part of perennial playoff contenders including two World Series crowns.)
He did receive more recognition during his career than after. He was selected to six consecutive All-Star games (1948-1953) and finished in the top ten in MVP voting for five straight seasons (1947-1951) especially impressive playing on such abysmal teams.
Following Mr. Kiner’s retirement he found a successful second career as a broadcaster. Spending the 1961 season with the Chicago White Sox, Mr. Kiner headed to New York to join the television broadcast booth with Bob Murphy and Lindsay Nelson for the expansion New York Mets. Mr. Kiner would broadcast Mets games for 52 seasons. He was the last of the original Mets’ broadcasters.
Known for misspeaking on occasion - wishing a hearty “Happy Birthday!” on Fathers’ Day - Mr. Kiner became more closely identified with the Mets than the Pirates by the end of his career. (A friend of Obit of the Day who is lifelong Pittsburgh fan believes this is why he is overlooked by the Pirates and their fans.)
Ralph Kiner, the fourth oldest living Hall of Famer, died on February 6^, 2014 at the age of 91.
(Image of Ralph Kiner, circa 1948-1953, is uncited - on six different websites - and courtesy of democratherald.com)
^ Coincidentally Mr. Kiner died on Babe Ruth’s birthday. Mr. Ruth was the only person to hit home runs more often than Mr. Kiner (11.76 at-bats per home run vs. 14.11) until the sluggers of the 1990s.
Baseball Hall of Famer and long-time Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner died today.
Kiner was 91. From 1946-1952 he led the National League in home runs, the only person to lead a league for seven consecutive seasons. He hit 54 home runs in 1948, no one would hit more until Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961 and no one hit more in the National League until Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998.
Kiner also hit a home run every 14.1 at bats, fourth behind Ruth (who was born on February 6, coincidentally), Bonds, and McGwire.
He was also the last original TV broadcaster for the NY Mets joining the team for their inaugural season in 1962 and serving as a guest analyst through last season.
Sources: Baseball Hall of Fame, baseball-reference.com, Wikipedia
Top image: Kiner, circa 1946, copyright Corbis.com and courtesy of baseballhistorypodcast.com
Bottom image: Bob Murphy (brother of Jack Murphy of San Diego fame), Lindsey Nelson, and Ralph Kiner, circa 1962, courtesy of 2guystalkingmetsbaseball.com
MEET THE METS,
MEET THE METS,
Step right up and greet the Mets!
Bring your kiddies,
bring your wife;
Guaranteed to have the time of your life
They have a long way to go to match the Mets and Astros who played 23 1/2 scoreless innings on April 15, 1968.
The Astros won the game in the bottom of the 24th on an error by Mets’ SS Al Weis. (Ugh)
Les Rohr took the loss and Wade Blasingame earned the win.
Btw, Tom Seaver started the game for NY and threw 10 innings.
Sources: Wikianswers and retrosheet.org
|—||Mets OF Eric Young Jr. after Tim Hudson’s gruesome injury. (x)|
Tim Hudson’s gruesome ankle injury tonight. Pray.
Fractured it….if that wasn’t obvious.
Kudos to Eric Young, Jr. who stayed with Hudson, apologized with tears in his eyes, and was an all around good guy last night. (Old Time Family Baseball has a great post on what this means for Hudson, besides surgery.)
Now stopping watching it, it’s hypnotic horror will only do bad things to your mind.
"Harvey has a chance to pull Mets fans into the organization’s time tunnel – back to 1984 when Doc Gooden introduced himself to the world with a blow-away fifth inning in that year’s All-Star Game.
Gooden struck out Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis with a fastball that might as well have been shot out of a rifle – that’s how overmatched the American League’s sluggers were. Gooden, only 19, was the advertisement of the gathering storm in Flushing, which is why the parallel to Harvey is so striking, even though he’s five years older.” - Bob Klapisch, The Record
Also a reminder that Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis were All-Stars in 1984. And Parrish and Lemon were starters.
The date of the last $1.2 million annual payment to Bobby Bonilla by the New York Mets.
The Mets didn’t want to pay Bonilla the $5.9 million to buy out his contract in 1999. So they came up with the brilliant idea of paying him annually beginning in 2011 for 25 years.
Yesterday was payment number 3.
Sources: @CBSSports and xfinity.comcast.net - the latter ranked it as only the 7th worse sports contract ever
Two other facts:
- still not the longest Mets game: Sept. 11, 1974 - Mets lost to the Cardinals 4-3 in 25 innings, after 7 hours and 4 minutes
- The Marlins have won 17 games this season, 7 against the Mets and 10 versus the rest of MLB
How do you not love baseball?
Coming into tonight, 43-year-old Mariano Rivera was a perfect 18-for-18 in save chances with a minuscule 1.40 ERA. But the Mets, knowing that this could very well be the last time they would ever face Rivera, decided it was their final chance to place a curse on the pitcher, the anger from the baseball gods be damned. And so, disguised as a moment of New York unity, the Mets had Rivera throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mets team leader in saves, John Franco.
Look, you can watch it for yourself:
What’s that, you say? You didn’t notice the moment the curse took effect? Look again. See, when John Franco appeared to bow in reverence to Rivera he actually did something much worse. He sent curse waves to Rivera which are visible under infrared. How do you feel about this gamesmanship, Jack Morris:
The effects were nearly instantaneous, too. Just look at where Rivera’s ceremonial pitch ended up:
That’s the location from a pitcher with impeccable command, one who hadn’t lost a game all season? Sure, and next you’re going to tell me that there aren’t reptilian creatures in positions of power all over the world.
And so, with the dark magicks in effect, Rivera entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees holding onto a 1-0 lead. Trying to rely on his trusty cutter, Rivera soon found that he didn’t have dominance over the five winds. Daniel Murphy hit a double down the line. David Wright then tied the game with a liner back up the middle, nearly hitting Murphy and taking second when the throw to the plate bounced away from the catcher. And with the fire burning and the cauldron bubbling, Lucas Duda singled on a liner to Ichiro Suzuki who was unable to throw Wright out at the plate. It was over, the cackling sound of laughter ringing through the stadium.
Rivera will now be examined by the ghosts of Yankee Stadium to see if there are any mystical precautions they’ll need to take before his next appearance.
This proves either a) Mariano is truly the greatest of all time or b) the Mets are getting soft.
(If the Red Sox hoist Rivera on their shoulders at his last game at Fenway we’ve gone through the looking glass.)
Kevin McReynolds, June 25, 1991 vs. Montreal Expos
Scott Ruskin was pitching for the ‘Spos.
On base for the Mets: Keith Miller, Daryl Boston, Dave Magadan