(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Hall of Fame outfielder Ralph Kiner passed away Thursday morning at his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home. He was 91. Kiner died of natural causes, passing peacefully with his family at his side.
“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.”
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 Pittsburgh 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.
“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 easy-going nature, disarming humility and movie-star smile,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “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.”
Born October 27, 1922 in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Kiner played for the Pirates from 1946-53, the Cubs in 1953-54 and the Indians in 1955. Kiner averaged a home run every 14.1 at-bats, the sixth-best ratio of all-time and second among right-handed batters.
Statement From Mets Chairman & CEO Fred Wilpon On The Passing Of Ralph Kiner
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.