Ralph Kiner was a Hall of Fame outfielder/first
baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also played (briefly) for the Cubs and the
Indians. He died in February at the age of 91.
I saw Ralph Kiner at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, I think, eight or nine years ago. He
was part of some kind of Greatest Living Pirates celebration—I don't know what
it was—I don't remember. Bill Mazeroski was there, maybe Bill Virdon ... what
the hell, maybe even Omar Moreno. There was no Dave Parker, I remember that. But
this is what I do remember: there was a short, polite applause for everyone
except Mazeroski. As usual, Pittsburgh went bat-shit crazy when Maz's name was
announced. I thought at the time, "These people don't even know who Ralph
Kiner is." If the Pirates have a Mt. Rushmore, Kiner is arguably one of
I bring all of this up because Kiner was beloved in New York City, a city he
never played baseball for. But he was the voice of the Mets since, I don't
know, maybe the 1830s.
Where I grew up, 100 miles north of Pittsburgh and 100 miles east of Cleveland,
there were three baseball players most kids pretended to be during sandlot
games or when playing Indian ball: Mickey Mantle, Rocky Colavito, and Ralph
Bill Schenley (me), Fireball, Kixco, and TGV each get 2 points. I'd rather have
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