Ralph Kiner, who passed away today, was a great player who played for some really bad teams. In his ten seasons, only twice was his team above .500. He never played in the postseason, and only once did he come close- when the 1955 Indians finished three games back of the Yankees in what was Kiner’s final year. He didn’t make the Hall of Fame until his final year of eligibility, and during his time with the Pirates, Branch Rickey held a grudge against him, scapegoating him for the team’s failures in an effort to make it possible to trade him for prospects*.
For those reasons, perhaps it isn’t surprising that when his death was announced, his obituary in the New York Times spent just as much time on his stint as the voice of the Mets as it did on his playing days, which were, admittedly, short.
And this is a shame, as in his ten seasons, nobody else hit more HRs than Kiner, and, what’s more, no World Series-era player with no postseason experience, not even Ernie Banks, had a better OPS for their career than Kiner.
So as you hear people on TV, in print and online talk about his radio days, just remember that he was truly one of the great players of his time.
*Interestingly, when he was finally traded, the Pirates didn’t get any good players back.