Remembering Ralph Kiner
Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, a Mets broadcaster since the team’s inception in 1962, passed away Thursday at age 91. Marty Noble’s obituary on Kiner sums up how the baseball world felt about him.
Here are some additional reflections from around the game on Kiner’s passing:
Mets owner Fred Wilpon: “Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman. After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit, and charm entertained generations of Mets fans. Like his stories, he was one of a kind. We send our deepest condolences to Ralph’s five children and 12 grandchildren. Our sport and society today lost one of the all-time greats.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig: “Ralph Kiner was one of the greatest sluggers in National League history, leading the Senior Circuit in home runs in each of the first seven years of his Hall of Fame career. His consistent power and patience in the heart of the Pirates lineup made him a member of our All-Century Team and, in many respects, a player ahead of his time.
“Ralph dominated at the plate for a decade, but his contributions to our National Pastime spanned generations. For 52 years, Ralph was a one-of-a-kind voice of the Mets, linking baseball’s unparalleled history to New York’s new National League franchise since its very inception.
“I am grateful that I recently had the opportunity to visit with Ralph, whose lifetime of service to Baseball will always be treasured by the fans of Pittsburgh, New York and beyond. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his five children, his 12 grandchildren, his friends throughout our game and his admirers everywhere.”
Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver: “He was a jewel. He loved the game of baseball. He loved to see it played correctly and smartly. He loved to talk baseball. He deeply understood the game, especially hitting. “
Former Mets outfielder Rusty Staub: “He was my broadcast partner for 10 years. We had great fun during the games. We both enjoyed good food and wine. Most of all, he was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met.”
Former Mets pitcher Al Jackson: “He was a player’s guy. We didn’t win a lot in those days. He didn’t try to hide the fact we were losing, but he did it in a nice way. I lost a lot of games in 1962 and 1963 and had no problem going on with him.”
Former Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda: “In those days we didn’t have hitting coaches. I was struggling. One September afternoon in 1969 (September 15), I asked him to come and feed balls through the pitching machine. We talked for about an hour. He gave me tips on holding the bat. That night I had the greatest night of my career. I hit two home runs off Steve Carlton and we won, 4-3.“ (Swoboda’s two two-run home runs accounted for all Mets runs on the night Carlton struck out 19).
Former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden: “I loved going on Kiner’s Korner. I enjoyed talking baseball with Ralph, especially learning about players from his era. But what really made it special was every time you went on, you got a $100. For a rookie like me in 1984, a $100 was a big deal.”
Mets broadcaster Howie Rose: “Losing Ralph is like losing a member of the family. His warmth, humility and sense of humor will be missed. I’ll always treasure being able to share a broadcast booth with a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.”
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo