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Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner

Position(s):
OF, 1B, LF
Born:
October 27, 1922
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 2"
Weight:
195 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-16-1946 with PIT
Hall of Fame:
1975

A powerful right-handed hitter, Ralph Kiner won seven straight home run titles before he turned 30 years old. Unfortunately, a back condition forced him to retire at the age of 33, but his amazing home run pace (second only to Babe Ruth), helped Kiner earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. After his playing career, Kiner enjoyed a long and successful career as a broadcaster for the New York Mets.

Teammates

Al Lopez, Hank Greenberg, Danny Murtaugh, Al Rosen, Ernie Banks, Hank Sauer, Larry Doby, Gus Bell, Rip Sewell, Murry Dickson, Bob Friend, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Vern Law, Phil Cavarretta

Best Season: 1949

Kiner won his fourth consecutive home run crown (54), led the league in RBI (127), and slugging. His .310 batting average left him fifth, well behind NL-pacesetter Jackie Robinson's .342. As he did four times, Kiner posted an OBP above .400 (.432). Despite his Herculean power numbers, the Pirates finished in sixth place.

 

Kiner and Greenberg

After the Detroit Tigers decided slugger Hank Greenberg was finished, they let him go to the Pirates in 1947. "Hammerin Hank" had won the the 1946 AL home run crown, and in anticipation of having both home run champions in their lineup, the Bucs fashioned Forbes Field to their two right-handed power hitters. A 30-foot wide bullpen was added just beyond the fence in left field, significantly reducing the distances in left and center field (left field from 365 to 335 feet and the left-center power alley from 406 to 355 feet). Pittsburgh officials dubbed it "Greenberg Gardens" (later "Kiner's Korner") and waited for the hoimers to fly. In '47, Kiner belted 51 to tie Johnny Mize for the NL lead, while Greenberg slugged 25 homers in his final major league season. Later, as the General Manager of the Cleveland Indians, Greenberg acquired Kiner from the Cubs.

 

Most Game-Ending Grand Slams

Alex Rodriguez... 3 

Vern Stephens... 3 

Cy Williams... 3 

Bob Aspromonte... 2 

Albert Belle... 2 

Bobby Bonds... 2 

Steve Finley... 2 

Ruppert Jones... 2 

Ralph Kiner... 2 

Davey Lopes... 2

Mark McGwire... 2 

Jim Presley... 2

Nomar Garciaparra... 2

David Eckstein... 2

 

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1946

Yogi Berra

Ralph Kiner

Alvin Dark

Carl Furillo

Bobby Thomson

Joe Garagiola

Ellis Kinder

Vic Raschi

Sherm Lollar

 

Uniform Numbers

#43 (1946), #4 (1947-1954), #9 (1955)

 

Similar Players

Harmon Killebrew, Rocky Colavito

 

Related Players

Hank Greenberg... Kiner tied Johnny Mize for the NL home run title in both 1947 and 1948... Kiner joined Hank Sauer in the Cubs outfield, with whom he had tied for the home run crown in 1952.

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Hall of Fame Voting

Hall of Fame Voting
Year Election Votes Pct
1960 BBWAA 3 1.1%
1962 BBWAA 5 3.1%
1964 BBWAA 31 15.4%
1964 Run Off 3 1.3%
1966 BBWAA 74 24.5%
1967 BBWAA 124 42.5%
1967 Run Off 41 13.4%
1968 BBWAA 118 41.7%
1969 BBWAA 137 40.3%
1970 BBWAA 167 55.7%
1971 BBWAA 212 58.9%
1972 BBWAA 235 59.3%
1973 BBWAA 235 61.8%
1974 BBWAA 215 58.9%
1975 BBWAA 273 75.4%

Milestones 

May 25, 1953: 300th HR...

 

Batting Feats 

June 25, 1950: Cycle...

 

Notes

Kiner never finished higher than fourth in Most Valuable Player voting.

 

Transactions

June 4, 1953: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with Joe Garagiola, Catfish Metkovich, and Howie Pollet to the Chicago Cubs, for Toby Atwell, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward, George Freese, Bob Addis, Gene Hermanski, and $150,000 in cash; November 16, 1954: Sent by the Chicago Cubs to the Cleveland Indians to complete an earlier deal made on September 30, 1954. The Chicago Cubs sent a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later, Sam Jones, and $60,000 cash. The Cubs sent Ralph Kiner (November 16, 1954) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade. The Cleveland Indians sent Gale Wade (November 30, 1954) to the Chicago Cubs to complete the trade.

 

Home Run Facts

From September 10-12, 1947, Kiner hit eight homers in four games, setting a major league record... His 101 homers in 1949-1950 set a National League mark for two seasons, which has subsequently been surpassed... No other player has ever led his league in homers seven straight times.

 

All-Star Selections 

1948 NL

1949 NL

1950 NL

1951 NL

1952 NL

1953 NL

 

Replaced

Jim Russell, who split time between center and left, along with Kiner in Ralph's 1946 rookie season.

 

Replaced By

The Bucs replaced him short-term with Hal Rice, and then Frank Thomas, but left field remained a problem for Pittsburgh until Bob Skinner came along in 1957-1958.

 

Best Strength as a Player

Power and strike-zone judgment.

 

Largest Weakness as a Player

Health - his bad back sent him into retirement at the age of 33.

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Tagged:
Baseball History, Forbes Field, Hall of Fame, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ralph Kiner

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