HOF player and broadcaster Ralph Kiner passed away at the age of 91. There is much well deserved praise coming his way; much of it because he was the Mets broadcaster for 50 years.
Some may remember him as being traded to the Cubs along with Joe Garagiola, who also became famous as a TV personality. I was a very young Cub fan when the Cubs got Kiner. My hero was Hank Sauer who was their big bopper and played left field. Kiner hit 52, and then 54 home runs for Pittsburgh and brought quite a pedigree with him to the Cubs. We had Kiner in right and Sauer in left and Frankie Baumholtz in center who was also a pretty good hitter. I think his lifetime BA was .290 and I recall he battled Stan Musial for the batting title one year.
What I remember most about Kiner was the jokes that were made. Both Kiner and Sauer hit home runs but they were far from being fleet-footed, and the broadcasters said that Baumholtz had to cover 80% of the outfield. With an outfield like that, we had our mini version of murder's row, or so I thought. As always, the names brought people to Wrigley, but the team never won.
There is much talk about Kiner being such a gentleman. That is one thing I remember, even as a child. He was so well respected. My aunt was a true baseball expert and she was really excited when the Cubs traded for Kiner, and spoke highly of his reputation.
Part of my childhood died yesterday, something that happens quite frequently when you are almost 74.
RIP Mr. Kiner and thank you for the memories.