Ralph Kiner, who broadcast Mets games from their inception as an expansion team in 1962, after a 10-year career as a Hall of Fame slugger, died Thursday.
He was 91.
“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman,” said Mets owner Fred Wilpon in a statement released by the team.
“After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century,” Wilpon said. “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 was one of the original Mets broadcasters along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, both of whom eventually would be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame for their work behind the microphone.
Kiner, however, was elected in 1975 for his abbreviated 10-year major league career, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He holds the all-time record for leading or tying for the National League in home runs his first seven seasons in the majors.
He was tutored as a young player by the aging future Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg.
A back injury hampered his swing in his last years, and he was forced into retirement at age 32 following a career that saw him hit 369 home runs and make six All-Star teams.
Fans who sat in the left field seats at Pittsburgh’s old Forbes Field nicknamed the area near the foul pole as “Kiner’s Korner.”
The name would follow him to the Mets where it became the name of a long-running post-game interview show on Channel 9.