Pittsburgh Pirates legend and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner dies at 91



By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

While he may have been a feared slugger, he also was one of baseball’s most-affable legends.

Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who hit 369 home runs in just 10 major-league seasons before becoming a broadcaster for the New York Mets, died Thursday. He was 91.

He played in Pittsburgh for eight seasons after arriving at age 23 in 1946, leading the National League in home runs in his first seven seasons and hitting a career-high 54 in 1949. No other player in MLB history has that kind of league-leading streak. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1953 in a 10-player deal before finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1955. He hit .279 with 1,015 RBI before he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975 — his 13th time on the ballot.


Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark issued a statement after hearing the news.

“With the passing of Ralph Kiner, the baseball world has lost one of its greatest ambassadors and the Hall of Fame has lost a wonderful friend. Ralph spent eight decades as a player, executive and broadcaster. He was a man who truly loved our National Pastime and made it better in every way. His legacy will live forever in Cooperstown.”

After his playing career, Kiner moved to the broadcast booth and had been with the Mets for more than 40 seasons.

On cardboard, Kiner appears on just 1,085 different cards in the Beckett.com database (click here for checklist and OPG) with a total value of $14,904.50 excluding rarities. His lone Rookie Card appears in the 1948 Bowman set and typically sells for $250 or less.

Kiner also was a regular signer for card companies in the past with appearances on 403 different certified autographs. His earliest auto can be found in the  1997 Topps Stars Rookie Reprint Autograph set, while his last plentiful signings took place in 2012.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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  1. zotster 6 February, 2014 at 22:32

    Sad day for baseball …

    It’s amazing, though, that the phrase “1,085 different cards” is preceded by the qualifier “just.” How many were issued during his playing days, about a couple dozen maybe? The card industry was cut down by overproduction in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Now we have, what … oversaturation? I know some people like chasing that many different cards, but … well, I guess I just miss a time that’s never coming back.

  2. Zeprock 7 February, 2014 at 14:43

    This article neglects to mention that Kiner retired from his playing days due to a back injury at the young age of 32. Had he not suffered that injury and played for another 8 – 10 years there’s no telling how many career home runs he’d have on his resume. A true slugger.

    Rest in peace.

  3. CashforGold 10 February, 2014 at 14:05

    kiner made the hall by putting up incredible numbers in an injury shortened career. the same reason why albert belle deserves to be a hof’er

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