It’s a sad day when a baseball player dies, it’s an even sadder day when that baseball player is a Hall of Famer, and it’s the worst when that player ended up becoming a legendary broadcaster. Yes, the world lost one of the best baseball voices on February 6th, and his name was Ralph Kiner.
Kiner was one of the best hitters of the post World War II era in baseball. A constant home run threat, he led the league every year from 1946-1952. was an All-star every year from 1948-1953, and was a budding star. Unfortunately, injuries took him out of the game, and brought him into the broadcast booth. It was he, along with Bob Murphy and Lindsay Nelson who helped broadcast the Mets in their earliest days of ineptitude. Kiner would continue broadcasting for the mets, albeit in a part time role until last year.
Let’s move on from the obituary here and discuss what Kiner meant to a lot of us Mets fans.
As a member of the younger generation of Mets fans, the ones who have grown up listening to Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez, and Kevin Burkhardt, I missed out on the golden age of Mets broadcasting. Kiner was long removed from the broadcast booth as a full time announcer, but he appeared in the booth maybe once or twice a year. Still, that once or twice a year was really something. Listening to anecdotes about the Mets of yesteryear, the glory days, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Sure, his golden voice was offset by Bell’s Palsy, but it was still a remnant of a legendary broadcaster’s voice. And while I never got to listen to him full time, my father did. He was a young boy when the Mets won their first World Series. He got to listen to Kiner. He got the golden voice.
They say that a certain part of history is over when the last person to witness it is dead. Does that necessarily mean that the early part of Mets history is dead? I don’t necessarily believe so. Kiner, Murphy, and Nelson’s voice is preserved, whether on a CD or a novelty record, or in the old tv broadcasts of Mets games that you see on SNY. It’s a fun experience listening to Kiner drawl on about the Mets history, whether it’s the 1969 World Series, the 1986 World Series, or any game in between. And while we will never get the chance to talk to Kiner in person again, we can still enjoy the recording of his voice.
RIP Ralph Kiner. The baseball world will miss you dearly.