Saying goodbye to a slugger

Ralph Kiner

Baseball fans say goodbye to Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who passed away at the age of 91 due to natural causes. Fans are invited to share their condolences and special memories in the comments below.

During his 10-year career, Kiner hit 369 home runs, winning or sharing the National League home run title in each of his first seven seasons with the Pirates. He twice topped 50 home runs, with 51 in 1947 and 54 in 1949. He averaged more than 100 RBI per season. Following his playing career, which was cut short by continuing back ailments, Kiner transitioned to the broadcast booth starting in 1962, where he would become a New York broadcast icon for the Mets.

“All of us at the Pittsburgh Pirates have heavy hearts upon learning of Ralph Kiner’s passing,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “Ralph was one of the greatest players to ever wear a Pirates uniform and was a tireless ambassador for the game of baseball. He was a treasured member of the Pittsburgh community during his seven years with the Pirates. Our heartfelt sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to his children, grandchildren, other family members and many friends. He will be missed by all of us at the Pirates organization.”

Ralph Kiner“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman,” said Mets Chairman 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.”

“With the passing of Ralph Kiner, the baseball world has lost one of its greatest ambassadors and the Hall of Fame has lost a wonderful friend,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Ralph spent eight decades as a player, executive and broadcaster. He was a man who truly loved our National Pastime and made it better in every way. His legacy will live forever in Cooperstown.”

Please share your thoughts below.

155 Comments

Ralph was a great guy–we Mets fans probably took him for granted, that he would always be there. When I was a kid, I mailed him a Hall of Fame postcard and he signed it and returned it to me. My favorite story about him happened in the late ’70s when he was doing a game on radio with one of the Albert boys. Ralph smoked cigars and the ashes he flicked on the floor came into contact with the ticker tape giving the scores from games out of town, You guessed it! We could hear the stomping and then laughter. Albert said, “tell them what you did Ralph!” Of course, he did and everyone got a good laugh out of it . Does anyone else recall that?
Joe from Bethpage

ralph was the MAN. great stories,lelacy,and player,no more need to be said,god bless, a baseball fan

HE WILL BE MISSED ONE GREAT PLAYER. IM 68YRS OLD AND LOVE THE METS IT WAS SU CH A GIFT TO HEAR HIS VOICE WHEN EVER HE VISITED THE METS BROADCASTERS BOOTH. MY HEART GOES OUT TO HIS FAMILY.

I actually bumped into Ralph outside Wrigley after a Mets/Cubs game. He was waiting to cross Addison on his way (I presume) to the Cubby Bear. I was walking back to my car. Try as I might, I don’t think a got an intelligible word out. But he was gracious, shook my hand, and said thanks. I was on cloud nine for the whole drive home.

In my early 50s, I grew up with Ralph along with Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson…when I heard their voices I knew it was spring!…Having Ralph around the last few years for a number of games was still special. His mind was sharp and his analysis was better then those half his age. I always remember him questioning why someone would not want to play in New York City….He always wished he could and it was true what he said, “Home Run hitters drive Cadillacs”. A true gentlemen of a time when the sport moved slower…we only Vin Scully left. Rest in piece Mr. Kiner.

As a Mets fan since the beginning, Ralph Kiner was a blessing to watch and listen too. Had an opportunity to run into him on 57th St many years ago and said hi…Ralph stopped…shook hands and we spoke Mets baseball for a minute or 2….Dumb me…I forgot to ask for an autograph. When he semi retired from the booth, I got so excited when he showed up every now and then. Great story teller…but more than that a CLASS act

Ralph Kiner will be sorely missed. Growing up listening to Ralph on WOR was a great blessing. I learned more about the nuances of the game from Ralph then I did playing in high school and college. He was a class act. His stories about the history of the game should be put on CDs and sold at the Hall of Fame. He served our country and but for the back injury would have amassed records that we can only guess at. The baseball world has lost a giant but for those of us blessed to grow up with Ralph he will always be remembered with great respect and fondness. I am sure Bob and Lindsey
were there to greet him with open arms.
Thanks Ralph. Going going gone good by. The best call of all time. May God keep you in his loving arms.

Ralph– thanks for sharing your quick with and extensive baseball acumen with the casual baseball fans who heard your broadcasts– we’re better fans because of it.

As a long time Pirate fan, possibly my first significant awareness of the team was at age six. I was undoubtedly sitting on the floor absorbed in playing with a toy truck or car when the TV newscaster announced that the Pirates traded Ralph Kiner to the Cubs. The details of the broadcast escaped me. The shock and sadness in the newsman’s voice became indelible. I knew something important happened, but the details were lost in whatever I was doing. I asked my mother what happened and she explained that the best player on the Pirates was traded to another team. With limited knowledge of the team’s makeup, or that Ralph Kiner was the only draw the Pirates had in those years, I took in that something bad happened. In response to Branch Rickey’s “I can lose with him or without him,” lose Mr. Rickey did, but Pittsburgers likely would have preferred losing with Ralph, a terrific ballplayer and gentleman.

I owe ALL that I know about baseball to Ralph Kiner. At the age of 10, I was fortunate enough to watch the very first Mets game ever played, on TV.
Of their three announcers, Ralph told an endless amount of baseball stories,
which far over came the dull-drums of continually watching a horrible, baseball team.
MANY, MANY, MANY times I watched (on TV) and listened (on radio) to the Mets broadcasts, just to hear Ralph’s many stories. During the Mets begin, in 1962 and for several years afterwards, the Mets broadcast team), which consisted of Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy as well as Ralph Kiner) would rotate broadcasting responsibilities from TV to radio, every three innings. In that way, fans would always get to hear all three announcers, regardless on how you followed the game. It was GREAT!
I learned more about baseball history and how to play the game, from Ralph, than everyone else collectively, during my lifetime. Ralph knew everything and everyone there was to know about baseball. Ralph also hosted a post-game show, called “Kiner’s Corner”. That was the cherry on top of a great day. Even if the Mets lost the game, Ralph still had other great guests, like in the incomparable Willie Mays, or Tommy Lasorda.
Although we Mets fans had to suffer through watching a horrible baseball team, for many years, we were very fortunate enough to have an unquestionable first class, broadcast team. Without ANY doubt, Ralph Kiner was the STAR of that team.
Right up until his death, it was an great privilege to tune in Mets games, on Sunday afternoons, just to hear Ralph. It made me young again.
The Mets organization would be very remissed if they did NOT have some type of BIG Ceremony to honor Ralph, for his endless contributions to the team, which would NEVER have been the team it became, without him.
Perhaps Kevin, and other Mets announcers, could host a discussion, with past Mets players, like Tom Seaver, to talk about Ralph, so that younger Mets Fans can appreciate who he was and all that he did for the organization.
I’m certain, that all long-time Mets Fans, who listened to Ralph for over 50 years,
will agree that even without ever wearing a Met’s uniform, Ralph Kiner was the Greatest Met of all time!
I’ll miss him immensely!

What can you say about Ralph that hasn’t been said?
For Met fans, he was everything – a link to the past, to our childhood, and the most stable…the rock of our life as a fan. He played in a golden age, against Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial, and batting against Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts. A student and expert of the game, he told stories from the 20s to the present day, and he knew everything
We heard of him being a great player, but he was a legend, one of the great “if only” stories. Injuries made him a shadow of the player he was by age 31, and during his time he was arguably the greatest and most prodigious power hitter of his time. He was one of the greatest ever, but shortened career prevented the amassing of enormous numbers he would have put up
He only played 10 years, but from the day he put on a minor league uniform he was part of baseball for 74 years
And part of the life of Met fans for over 50 years. Never wearing a uniform, as coach or manager, will any of us not remember Ralph Kiner as much as anyone as one of the great Mets, heart and soul of our memories

Ralph Kiner

“And it is going, going, it is gone, good-bye! A home run!”

How often did I hear those words from Ralph Kiner over the many, many years that I have been watching Mets baseball. Whether he was with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, or Tim McCarver, Gary Thorne and Steve Zebrieski, Fran Healy, or Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, Ralph Kiner had a distinctive style. He called the game honestly and was never afraid to criticize a player’s actions, be he a Met or a player from another team. His enthusiasm was open and honest, but what I remember best are his stories. Ralph Kiner told great stories about players and situations that took place throughout his hall of fame career, stories that often helped him make a point about a play that was made, or not made that perhaps should have been made, on the field. Ralph Kiner was equally knowledgeable about the rules and the ins and outs that make up a ball game. How many people know that the “tie goes to the runner” rule doesn’t exist in the rule book? I do, because Ralph Kiner said so during a broadcast; it’s merely, he said, a “rule of thumb” that many umpires can chose to follow. Or not. And to those who complain of the “boredom” of a pitching duel, I challenge you to explain the game behind the game, the chess match behind the seemingly boring at-bats while pitches were being fouled off and runners were out by a hairsbreadth. Ralph Kiner was the one who could make a game like that interesting by teaching those who cared enough about the game to listen. What was really going on – which pitches were called in which order and why; how the inning, the score, home or away, the batter’s ability to run, an outfielder’s ability to back up the infield – these elements and more all combine to change the dynamics almost pitch by pitch. Ralph Kiner explained this so simply I often wondered how I could have possibly missed it at first. And it was Ralph Kiner who taught me how to keep score and why it’s an integral part of truly enjoying a baseball game. Even after his stroke and he appeared infrequently on the air, I enjoyed listening to him tell stories during a game. He will surely be missed by all Mets fans and baseball fans everywhere.
Rest In Peace, Ralph Kiner.

What Nina said.

I had the privelege enjoyed Ralph’s Met days from 1969 to 2013. I will sorely miss his presence in the booth. RIP Ralph.

I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to many games to watch Mr. Kiner in left field. I always sat in the left field bleachers so I could be close and call out to him. I met him in later years at the Pittsburgh airport. We had a nice short conversation. I thanked him for all the pleasure he gave me as a kid when he played for the Pirates. HE HELPED ME DEVELOPE A LOVE FOR BASEBALL. I STILL PLAY SOFTBALL IN A SENIOR LEAGUE AND WE TALK ABOUT HIS TIME IN Pittsburgh. I have a ten foot banner of him in my attic. I will donate to Pittsburgh’s Sports Museum. It was one of the ones to be displayed at PNC Park. Hopefully when he sees Branch Rickey , he can give him hell for taking him away from Pittsburgh and his loving fans.
Carl Vitti, Pittsburgh
Beat ‘Em Bucs

As a Mets fan growing up, my earliest memories were of the Mets on the radio. Ralph Kiner’s part in those fond memories have kept me smiling for 45 years. I’m sure Mr. Kiner will have his own little “corner” of heaven. RIP.

Ralph Kiner TRULY made it so much more enjoyable to be a Met fan back during the gloomy Met days when I was a kid. I was very sad to hear of his passing. He truly was a great one. R.I.P. Ralph Kiner

They should call left field corner Kiners Corner and the Mets announcers
should use his famous saying Going, Going, Gone Goodbye on every homer
the Mets hit

Ralph Kiner will be sorely missed. Growing up listening to Ralph on WOR was a great blessing. I learned more about the nuances of the game from Ralph then I did playing in high school and college. He was a class act. His stories about the history of the game should be put on CDs and sold at the Hall of Fame. He served our country and but for the back injury would have amassed records that we can only guess at. The baseball world has lost a giant but for those of us blessed to grow up with Ralph he will always be remembered with great respect and fondness. I am sure Bob and Lindsey
were there to greet him with open arms.
Thanks Ralph. Going going gone good by. The best call of all time. May God keep you in his loving arms.

Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner calling Mets games, especially during that magical 1969 season. Thank you Gentlemen for the many happy memories!

I knew because of his advanced age that this could happen, I just wished it never would. There are only a few people in a persons lifetime that touch them profoundly . For me, one of those was Ralph Kiner. He made those early telecasts tolerable with his wit and wisdom. To think he led the National League 7 consecutive years in home runs with no protection in the lineup on those bad Pirates teams. A true gentleman he was everything that is good and decent about life and baseball. Thanks Ralphie, for all the great memories that I can never repay.

Mets fan from 1 st day . Ralph was a great baseball guy. He made the game easy to watch or listen to. I met Ralph on a flight from l.a to ny and he talked to me about baseball & we discussed some of his adventure ‘s back in his playing days. It was my lucky day & I have told my grandchildren the great afternoon I had with one of baseball’s greatest players & announcers. Thanks Ralph for a great time. Nick

There will be a void this season, the first without our original Mets broadcaster, Ralph Kiner. Those of us who remember the early games that always ended with Kiner’s Korner will miss his insight, his baseball stories and his Kinerisms. He was a team treasure.

I will always remember watching the Mets game on WWOR change 9 growing up. It was always nice to hear Ralph stories of his playing days for the Pirates.Ralph is one of the best announcers and knew what he was talking about when it came to the game of BaseBall. I will also always remember watching his postgame Kiner’s Korner. He will be miss a lot R.I.P Ralph

As a lifelong Mets Fan, Mr. Kiner and Mr. Murphy were like friends to me. Talking baseball and entertaining all those summers was truly amazing. It was exciting when he came back and visited in the booth. His Kinerisms were just so funny and no one knew baseball better than him. Meeting Mr. Kiner outside of Shea after a game made me realize what a nice man he was. He had the biggest hands so you knew he was a slugger. He would talk baseball, shake your hand, and sign an autograph for anyone. Truly sad to see him go and end an era that I will forever treasure as a great part of my childhood. I will miss Mr. Kiner and wish his family my condolences. I hope to get tickets to opening day to be there for his ceremony. God bless him and Rest in Peace my friend.

I grew up a mets fan and listened to Ralph, Bob and Lindsey call the ballgames. The most exciting was listening on radio to the 1969 World Series and getting home from school and watching the postgame where Ralph Kiner was interviewing Seaver, Swoboda, Koosman, Charles. Always enjoyed watching Kiner Korner after the ballgame. The interviews were fantastic. Even in later years always looked forward when Ralph would stop by and talk to Cohen, Darling and Hernandez. It seemed like a bridge between the old and the new. Ralph Kiner will be Missed!!!

I became interested in baseball when the Mets were born ! I will never forget how Mr. Kiner explained how the NY Mets selected their uniform colors. Blue came from the Dodgers and Gold came from the Giants. I enjoyed every single Kiner’s Korner telecast ! I have never missed a Mets Playoff or World Series Game in the stands !
Mr Wilpon should erect a bronze statue of Ralph Kiner outside the “Ebbets Field” Rotunda of Citifield ! Long live the memory of Ralpf Kiner !

So many happy memories of watching Ralph, as well as Lindsay and Bob while I was growing up. Grandpa and I use to really get into the games together, and really enjoy them. R.I.P. Ralph. Say hello to Lindsay and Bob. Condolences to the Kiner family and friends

Never refused to sign an autograph for anyone. In my eighty plus years never knew of another down to earth player or person. Todays players could’nt tie his shoes. Baseball lost an Icon. I hope the METS see fit to honor this gentleman the way he deserves it.

I grew up listening to Ralph and loving Kiner’s Korner and his “Kinerisms”. Imagine how lucky the English language was to have Yogi and Ralph and we had both of them in New York. Years later when I did some stringing for a small NYC paper, I was in the press lounge after a game and I bellied up to the bar and listened to Ralph, Bob Murphy and Lorne Browne talking baseball. Ralph had his tall glass filled with Scotch (as did Bob) and he and the others told baseball story after story. It was a night to remember for me.
Years later, I had moved to a golf community near Palm Springs, Ca. It was a cool winter evening and I turned on a local sports talk radio show as I drove up into my driveway. The first voice I heard I immediately recognized as Ralph’s. I went from being tired to being elated at the sound of his voice. It was as if I was listening to Kiner’s Korner again. He was a guest along with Al Rosen and it was a wonderful evening of baseball.

Thank you, Ralph for all the wonderful moments. G-d bless your soul.

When Ralph announced the game, I could close my eyes and be that little boy listening to the game in 1962.

During the strike shortened season in the early 90′s, I recognized Ralph and his wife having dinner at Manero’s in Greenwich, CT. After dinner, I introduced myself and told him I was from Pittsburgh. Ralph immediately invited me to sit down and poured me a glass of wine. We talked baseball, Pittsburgh, Forbes Field, Dick Groat and the other teams and cities where he played. We talked for over an hour. He was a gentleman to me and left a lasting memory. My sincerest condolences to the Kiner family
.

i grew up a brooklyn dodger fan & feared him when he came to ebbets field but loved him at shea stadium. i know he has a audiance in heaven.he will be great there as he was here.

RIP Ralph, I spent many a summer day & night as a kid listening to you, Bob & Lindsay calling Met games. Hearing your voice always brought me back to those care free summer days and nights.You will surely be missed. Thanks Ralph.

I always remember my favorite Met Tom Seaver being on Kiner’s Korner and how they both would laugh. RIP Ralph.

MY FAVORITE “KINERISM”…
It was late during a slow, hot August afternoon meaningless game in the mid 60′s, and Ralph was at the microphone. The team of Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner had pretty much run out of things to say, so when one of the Mets unexpectedly hit a deep line drive off the outfield wall, for a triple, there was reason to celebrate.

Ralph got very excited, or as excited as he could get, and when the dust cleared, announced, “And on the triple, (the batter)…,” he paused here for a second to gather his thoughts, then added, “…ends up on third.”

He will be missed.

Mr. Kiner was a piece of baseball history. It’s good to see the Mets will be honoring him this season.

I grew a Met fan and Ralph Kiner was a large part of my childhood! I learned a lot about baseball and loved Kiner’s Korner. He was a great player and announcer. RIP. You will be missed.

Each year I looked forward to Ralph reciting the “Tinker to Evers to Chance” poem… Really put a smile on my face.
It was always a pleasure listening to him with Gary, Keith and Ron on the few occasions throughout the year when Ralph stopped by… And if you watched closely you would see their reactions to Ralph as he told his stories. They had a great respect for Ralph, and knew they were in the presence of a Great Ballplayer and a Great Man… I am sure those moments were special for them, I know they were for me.

Had a Pirates Ralph Kiner uniform when I was young. I would live for the call Open the window Aunt Minnie here it comes ! RIP Sir .

Baseball has lost a good storey teller and a good man

Kiner’s Korner was the only time in the late 70s that you could hear baseball players speak. Plus, it gave you an extra 15 minute of baseball after the game was over. During some of the lean years, that 15 minutes was the most entertaining part of the day. RIP Ralph.

I’m old enough to have seen Ralph play (he used to slug the heck out of the Brooklyn Dodgers) and watched and listened to him from the beginning of the Mets. In all those years I never heard him speak badly of anyone — he might say a player was in a slump, but never put that player down — and that has come full circle, because in every single comment I’ve read since his passing, not one person has said anything negative about ol’ Ralphie. We’re gonna miss him.

You know, you get used to a guy after so many years of listening and watching baseball.Ralph was the man who was last standing after lindsey and Bob who were great too. but ralph was a player so you listened to what he had to say from his expierence, will miss all his old stories about old players and thing that went on during his playing days.I will miss you ralph, you will always be part of the mets.

Ralph was my Dad’s favorite ballplayer. When the Mets started play in 1962, with Ralph, Lindsay. and Bob as their primary TV and Radio broadcast team we ALL became instant Mets fans, I was 10 years old, So, Ralph is the reason I am a liifelong Mets fan. Have never been to a game as it is too expensive and too far away. But, only rarely miss a game on TV or radio…Would love to see SNY re-broadcast some “Kiner’s Korner” highlights and interviews from years ago. And, of, course, I think the Mets should wear an RK 1962-2013 patch on their uniforms this season….Greg Lalonde, 327 Clark St. Ogdensburg NY 13669

A gentleman. and a professional.

God bless you Mr. Kiner and RIP/ you always were a pleasure to listen to and you will be remembered and missed by all Mets fans and all of baseball, RIP my friend.

I learned the game while listening to Ralph Kiner and always looked forward to hearing him, be it on Kiner’s Korner or in the booth with Gary, Keith, and Ron. The 1980′s were lots of fun with Ralph along with Gary Thorne, Tim McCarver and Steve Zebrieski. He was a wonderful man. When I sent him a postcard of his plaque in Cooperstown and asked him to autograph it, he gladly did so and it’s an item I still cherish. He will be missed.

I interviewed Ralph in 1983. I was a student at the University of Central Florida and a budding sportscaster (which I am today). It was in spring training in St. Pete. I grew up a Mets fan in Dobbs Ferry and Shea Stadium was like my 2nd home. I still am crying after letting the 1973 World Series slip away. I was too young to remember 1969, although I truly enjoy all of the vintage video. And I certainly enjoyed 1986. I was a bit nervous to interview Ralph but I will echo what Marty Noble said. One of the nicest human beings I have ever met. A true gentleman. As sad as we all are that Ralph is gone, what a gem and we had him for 91 yrs. Now the holy trinity of Murphy, Nelson and Kiner are reunited in Mets heaven. Thats where I want to go when I die. ROP Mr. Kiner and please give my regards to Agee, Clendenon, McGraw and the other legendary Mets that you are now sharing company with. J.C. Meyerholz from Melbourne, FL

Kiner had a lot in common with others of that generation (you know who I’m talking about) – a love of cocktails as their drug of choice. I am impressed to read that stars of his and subsequent eras were struck to be in his company. He only played 10 years, but was one of the most productive hitters in history. I feel the same way about the ’69-70 Knicks. No team will ever hold my attention like they did.

In 1975 I attended an Old Timers day at Shea. I went with 3 of my friends. In those days, there was no seperation between the press and broadcasting area and the seats. We were all around 12 or 13 years old and being “curious” kids we decided to sneak in to the broadcast area before the game. When we got in, who do we run into in his Pirates uniform but Ralph Kiner. We figured he would throw us out. But to our surprise he talked to us and signed autographs. We congratulated him on making the Hall of fame and asked him if he was playing in the Old Timers game. (He said yes) We left with happy memories of a nice man!

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