Ralph Kiner and David Wright:

Ralph and Dave for the rest of this article.

What do they have in common, what in contrast?

Ralph was a truly prodigious home run hitter, great announcer, and forever loved by me for repeatedly calling Mets star Cleon Jones by the name of fellow NL player Cleo James on Ralph's Kiners Korner show.

Ralph and Yogi were beloved for their baseball excellence malapropisms ("the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance"). 

We all knew what Ralph meant. Everyone loved Ralph.

Ralph was a hitter the Mets could only dream about.

He won 7 straight home run titles playing in ridiculously cavernous Forbes Field from 1947 through 1953, totaling 306 homers, an average of 44 per year, in years with 154 game schedules. 

He amazingly fanned only 72 times per year in that stretch, on average, and walked 114 times per year and averaged 116 RBIs over that span.

Life for Ralph as a baseball star looked amazing at age 30.

Traded to the Cubs, he hit just 22 homers and 18 homers in much smaller Wrigley over the next two years (1954 and 1955) and retired, from a bad back that low pay would not entice him to trudge on in pain.

Ralph's total career salary was under $1 million. 

He needed that broadcast job.

Dave put up Hall of Fame numbers his first 4 years.  Then, a few injuries and a switch to cavernous Citifield reduced his output to less than Hall of Fame caliber.

Nonetheless, the Mets gave Dave a/k/a Captain America a beauty of an 8 year contract from 2013-2020, with a "hometown discount", so it "only" totaled $138 million. 

He has not done much since, because of a very bad back, but unlike Ralph, he has not retired, ostensibly because he wants to play, but also because he wants to continue to be paid and at the same time help the team out by it getting insurance money to defray said $138 million. 

Ralph did not have to worry about big contracts - the story he used to tell was after winning the homer title one season for an awful Pirates team, they offered him a pay cut - when he asked why, it is my recollection they said, "we finished last with ya, we coulda finished last without ya." And one year, in his waning career he demanded a pay cut!

Ralph's retirement in 1955 was, fortunately for all of us, followed by a far longer career in Mets broadcasting.

Ralph and Dave have one thing in common right now, as I now close - neither has been cleared for baseball activities for a very long time.


Thomas Brennan said...

Original dimensions at Forbes Field were 360 ft. (left), 462 ft. (center), and 376 ft. (right).

After the Pirates acquired slugger Hank Greenberg they moved the left field fence in 30 feet to 330 feet after World War II. This area became known as Greenberg Gardens and later Kiner’s Korner when Ralph Kiner became part of the Pirates.

It was known as one of the hardest ballparks to hit a home run at. How hard?

Prior to becoming a Met, Donn Clendenon hit 28 homers as a Pirate one season – 25 on the road, 3 at home.

Thomas Brennan said...

Kiner's lefty alter ego in Forbes Field was Willie Stargell. "Beloved in Pittsburgh for his style of play and affable manner, Willie Stargell hit seven of the 18 balls ever hit over Forbes Field's 86-foot-high right-field stands and several of the upper-tier home runs at its successor, Three Rivers Stadium." One was off Tom Terrific.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the correction. Kiner's Corner, nee Greenberg Gardens, was a godsend for the pull happy Kiner. Played for a terrible Pirate team and never knew the pressure of a pennant race.

Thomas Brennan said...

Pull happy, but out of necessity - 430 foot fly balls to center there were easy outs

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen him play. He was,at best, a mediocre fielder. The reason fences were pulled in was because of his tendency to pull. Wonder what his ratio of hrs at home vs away was. He was probably a better lover than ballplayer. Always thought he was overrated.

Thomas Brennan said...

44 homers and 116 RBIs average over 7 years? Seven straight HR titles? Overrated? Wow.

Anonymous said...

AAA Catcher Papa Smurf Johnny Monell and Relief Phenom Tim Peterson (1.64 ERA, 20 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched, .91 WHIP should be called up here ASAP! Don't wait any longer.

Watching Zach Borenstein, see if he can cut down on the strikeouts.

Send down: Either Nido or Lobaton to make room for Papa Smurf Monell, and then pick a struggling Met reliever. More than one to choose from right now. Maybe even Jeurys! That would be nice and he needs to work on things down at AAA. Lost his rhythm.

Mack's Mets © 2012