On Thursday the New York Mets lost one of their own. The longtime broadcaster Ralph Kiner passed away at the age of 91. Kiner, along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, was one of the original Met broadcasters in their inaugural 1962 season. His career spanned for more than five decades. The only other broadcasters to boast such a feat are Vinny Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who also called the infamous Buckner play in the 1986 World Series, and Cousin Brucie, the man whose claim to fame was introducing the Beatles to the United States.
“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history,” said New York Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon. “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.”
Kiner officially retired from the broadcast booth in 2003. Were it not for bell’s palsy and suffering a stroke more than a decade ago, he would still be calling ball games regularly today. Despite health concerns, Kiner continued to announce a few innings every week alongside Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Gary Cohen.
Cohen says he learned how to call games while listening to Kiner growing up.
"Ralph was one of a kind," Cohen told CBS. "He was a renaissance man in so many ways. He was a great slugger. He went out with beautiful starlets like Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh back in his playing days, and for 52 years he was one of the last connections to the beginning of the Mets franchise. What a wonderful life."
Who else in the New York Mets organization can say they witnessed the team play in three stadiums, four World Series appearances, and called Tug McGraw saves, Tom Seaver K’s, Mookie Wilson steals, and Mike Piazza homeruns? Ralph Kiner did all of that while also keeping a straight face whenever John Rocker came to the mound for the Atlanta Braves.
As a ball player he was a career .279 hitter with the Pirates, Cubs, and Indians. He hit 369 homeruns and had 1,015 rbi’s.