Hall of Fame outfielder and esteemed New York Mets announcer Ralph Kiner passed away Thursday, Feb. 6, at the age of 91.
The Mets franchise released a statement from chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon honoring the beloved broadcaster and seven-time National League home run champion:
Bud Selig provided his thoughts via the MLB Public Relations feed:
Commissioner Selig's full statement about the passing of Ralph Kiner... pic.twitter.com/q87vNYN5gv— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) February 6, 2014
SportsNet New York also provided a statement expressing its sadness over the loss:
Statement from SNY: "Ralph was a giant in every sense of the word. His impact on Mets fans over 52 years in the booth is immeasurable. (1/3)— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) February 6, 2014
"We will not only miss his insights and knowledge of the game, but more importantly, his engaging personality and huge heart." (2/3)— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) February 6, 2014
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kiner family." (3/3)— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) February 6, 2014
Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark praised Kiner for his efforts to better the sport, per MLB.com's Marty Noble:
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. 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.
SNY broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt and senior producer Joe Kraus, who worked closely with Kiner, were among the first to respond to the news on Twitter:
Horrible news. Ralph Kiner passed away at age 91. Sad, sad day. So lucky I had a chance to work with him. Rest in Peace Ralph.— Kevin Burkhardt (@kevinburkhardt) February 6, 2014
Mets family and SNY lost a treasure today. He was always one of our favorite people to interview. RIP, Mr. Kiner.— Joe Kraus (@krauskid) February 6, 2014
Sports Illustrated's Phil Taylor is one of many New Yorkers who will remember Kiner fondly:
Ralph Kiner's voice on Mets broadcasts was part of soundtrack of a lot of NY childhoods, including mine. RIP Ralph.— Phil Taylor (@SI_PhilTaylor) February 6, 2014
Kiner played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians over a 10-season span from 1946 to 1955. He earned six All-Star nods throughout his career, and the Pirates would eventually retire his No. 4 jersey in 1987.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
According to BaseballHall.org, Kiner, who led the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years from 1946 to 1952, is widely regarded as the greatest home run hitter during the era immediately following the conclusion of World War II. He retired with 369 to his name and recorded 40 or more on five separate occasions in Pittsburgh, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson:
Only seven 40-plus home run seasons in #Pirates history. Ralph Kiner had 5, Willie Stargell 2.— Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) February 6, 2014
Kiner delayed the start of his baseball career to serve as a Navy pilot during World War II, adding another impressive accomplishment to his decorated resume and legacy.
Kiner took to the broadcasting booth in the early 1960s, first with the Chicago White Sox, and had been serving as the voice for the Mets since the franchise's inception in 1962.
There's no doubt that Kiner lived a memorable and fulfilled life. His passing is sure to have a significant impact on the baseball universe and especially Mets Nation.
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