Those of you were fortunate enough to catch this afternoon’s Met game on SNY were treated with the presence of Mets treasure and Hall of Famer, Ralph Kiner in the broadcast booth.
Mr. Kiner joined Ron Darling and Kevin Burkhardt (who was sitting in for Gary Cohen) for an interesting few innings of baseball talk.
Early on during the visit, Darling was talking about the importance of Johan Santana keeping his leg stiff in order to get “drop” on the baseball. Mr. Kiner was quick to point out that when hitting a baseball (and a golf ball), it important for a batter to keep his leg stiff too. To conversation was much more interesting than I’ve written, but by that early exchange it was clear Mr. Kiner had brought his “A” game today.
A little bit later Mr. Kiner was talking about Cardinal legend Stan Musial’s approach to hitting. According to Mr. Kiner, Musial’s approach was: for a ground ball, hit the top of the baseball, for a line drive hit the ball on the seams, for a fly ball hit the bottom of the ball. Ah, if only it was that easy. Mr, Kiner then went on to say the Musial was a single and doubles hitter until he found out he’d get paid better if he home runs!
SNY showed some class today too when, airing the Mets Memory segment they cued in on Kiner’s Korner, showing some clips of the great players Mr. Kiner had on his show. For fans in my age group, Kiner’s Korner was a staple of NY Mets broadcasts. Ron Darling said it was always great to be on Kiner’s Korner because if you were on you had a great game and you were able to brag about yourself. You also got a $100 bill. Mr. Kiner then told the story about how Casey Stengel pulled to set down on the first ever Kiner’s Korner. It has to be one of Mr. Kiner’s most often told stories, and still a pretty funny one.
Another interesting point made by Mr. Kiner during today’s game. With Cardinals pitcher Rob Carpenter tossing a no hitter through three innings, Mr. Kiner was asked about the “no hitter jinx.” Basically if a broadcaster mentions a pitcher has a no-no going, the broadcaster jinxes the game. Mr. Kiner said that when he was working games with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, they would mention a pitcher had a no hitter going, especially in the late innings. The reason was simple and refreshing: the fan needed to know what was going on. If someone just tuned in they needed to know too. Imagine that a broadcaster wanting the fan to know whats happening, instead of doing shtick.
Ralph Kiner is 86 years old. He’s been a part of our Mets since day one. Sure he’s slowed down a bit. Sometimes he may even mis-speak. But when Mr. Kiner is in the broadcast booth, he’s always worth listening to. Whether he’s talking about hitting or telling funny stories he truly is one a kind.