Ralph Kiner, New York Mets Broadcaster and Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Fame Player, Dead at 91

Ralph Kiner, New York Mets Broadcaster and Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Fame Player, Dead at 91

Kiner joined the Mets booth in 1962 — the year of their inception

Former New York Mets broadcaster and Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Fame slugger Ralph Kiner died of natural causes Thursday morning at his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home. He was 91.

As a player, Kiner led the National League in home runs each of his first seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He lasted just 10 seasons in the big leagues — the minimum requirement for Hall-of-Fame consideration — but hit 369 homers, with 1,015 RBI and had a .279 career average during that time.

The six-time N.L. All-Star gained entry into the Cooperstown, N.Y. Pro Baseball Hall of Fame by a mere two votes.

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As Mets broadcaster from their 1962 inception until 2006, Kiner became one of the most beloved sports figures in the New York metropolitan area. He continued to make cameo appearances following his 2006 step down.

Kiner is survived by his fourth wife, Ann. He had two sons, Michael and Scott, and a daughter, Kathryn Freeman, with his first wife, 1950s tennis star Nancy Chaffee, who died in 2002.

Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon offered the following statement on Kiner's passing:

Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman. After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit, and charm entertained generations for Mets fans. Like his stories, he was one of a king. 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.