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Baseball Hall of Famer and New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner died of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, California on Thursday. He was 91 years old.
Kiner made his baseball debut in 1946 and played for 10 years. Most of his playing career was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first seven seasons, Kiner won or tied the National League in home runs. Kiner, who was a six-time All-Star, ranks sixth all-time with a home run every 14.1 at-bats, according to the Associated Press. He had a .279 career average with 369 home runs and 1,015 RBIs in his 10-year career as a player with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Cleveland Indians. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
''As one of baseball's most prolific power hitters for a decade, Ralph struck fear into the hearts of the best pitchers of baseball's Golden Era despite his easygoing nature, disarming humility and movie-star smile,'' Jeff Idelson, the Hall of Fame president, said in a statement. ''His engaging personality and profound knowledge of the game turned him into a living room companion for millions of New York Mets fans who adored his game broadcasts and later "Kiner's Korner" for more than half a century. He was as comfortable hanging out in Palm Springs with his friend Bob Hope as he was hitting in front of Hank Greenberg at Forbes Field.''
Kiner wasn’t just a great baseball player. He had a second career in baseball as a broadcaster. In 1962, Kiner was hired along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy to do radio and TV broadcasts for the New York Mets. The three worked together for 17 years, which is a record, the New York Daily News reports. As a broadcaster, Kiner was a master storyteller and his “Kiner’s Korner” postgame show was popular for four decades.
A decade ago, Kiner had a stroke that slowed his speech; however, he remained an occasional part of the Mets' announcing crew. Last year, he worked a handful of games for the Mets at Citi Field, his 52nd year of calling games for the Mets. He is survived by his daughter K. C. Freeman and two sons, Michael and Scott.
Image: Wikimedia Commons