Friday, February 7, 2014

Ralph Kiner (1922-2014)

He played only 10 seasons in major league baseball, most of it with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, there are at least a few generations that will associate Ralph Kiner instead with the New York Mets, as he was the last of their original announcers. Kiner passed away Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, at 91 due to natural causes.

Kiner, along with Bob Murphy & Lindsey Nelson, called the Mets games on television and radio during the team's early years in the 60's & 70's, a practice that I'm not sure still exists today. The last team to employ announcers that worked both radio & television, that I can think of, was the Atlanta Braves. What made Kiner a New York legend, more than anything, was his post-game show, Kiner's Korner, where he'd interview players and/or managers of the winning team for that night's game. Given how the Mets were the dregs of the National League more often than not, that allowed Kiner to interview just about everyone. Guests were paid a small sum to appear on the show, a practice that I think went away when Korner was cancelled several years back.

In recent years, Kiner scaled back his schedule, making only a small handful of appearances, working with the current Mets TV team of Gary Cohen and ex-players Keith Hernandez & Ron Darling. In fact, the TV booth at Citi Field is named for Kiner as a testimony to his longevity and years of service to the game.

In memory of Kiner, we present a 1983 episode of Kiner's Korner. Part of the opening was edited off.

Now, Ralph Kiner joins Murphy & Nelson to present classic games in Heaven. Now, there's a happy recap. Rest in peace, Ralph.

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