Friday, February 7, 2014

A Brief Note for the Memoirs

Baseball News: The great Pittsburgh Pirate power hitter, Ralph Kiner, has died at the age of 91.
by Charlie Leck
I just want to acknowledge my great respect for Ralph Kiner, the incredible baseball player of my youth and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died yesterday (Thursday) at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, at 91 years of age.
Kiner may have become the king of the home run hitters had his career not been cut short by injury. From 1946 to 1955 he hit a total of 369 home runs. He averaged more home runs per year (for a career) than any slugger in baseball. He led the National League in home runs every year during his first seven seasons. He racked up 1,015 RBIs (runs batted in) in ten seasons – an average of more than 100 per year. Incredible!
The first major league home run I ever saw was hit by Ralph Kiner in the Polo Grounds. My old man had taken me to see that game. I was overjoyed by the sight of the first major league park I had ever visited and I had no chips in that particular game between the Giants and the Pirates because my baseball loyalties were elsewhere. I’ll never forget the sight of the ball climbing off Kiner’s bat and powering its way deep into the left field stands at the famous old ballpark. We were sitting high up in the stands and it was a thrill for me to watch the big man trot around the bases.
I needed to pay this moment of respect to the great slugger and wave out into the stars just in case he might be watching. Slugger, you have triumphed over everything! Good night to you!


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