Shoebox Memories: 1964 Topps Casey Teaches Kranepool

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As Casey Stengel was reported to say to reporters during the 1966 preseason, “We’ve got a couple of kids here, and they’re both 20 years old. In 10 years the first one, Kranepool, has a chance to be a star. In 10 years the other guy has a chance to be 30.”  The card above is card number 393 from the 1964 Topps baseball card set.  As the above quote shows, obviously Casey Stengel spent his time teaching Ed Kranepool and less time teaching the second prospect.

A member of the original 1962 Mets, Ed Kranepool made his major league debut at the age of 17 on September 22, 1962 as a late inning defensive replacement for Gil Hodges at first base.  The next day, September 23, 1962, Kranepool made his first major league start.  He played first base again, and had a double in four at bats.

Kranepool, despite being taught by Manager Casey Stengel, struggled as a rookie in 1963, batting .209 in 86 games, playing mostly right field with some games at both first and left.  In 1964 however, Stengel’s teaching must have stuck as Kranepool became the team’s regular first baseman and hit .257 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 420 at bats as a 19 year old, in the Old Perfessor’s last full season as Mets manager.

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Playing both right field and first predominantly in 1964, Kranepool even played one game in center, handling five flyballs without issue.  The following season was 1965 and Kranepool hit a similar .253 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs and was the Mets’ representative at the All Star game, although he did not get to play in the game.   This is particularly unfortunate as Kranepool was never selected to an All Star game in the remainder of his career.

The Mets regular first baseman through 1969, Kranepool did not have a great 1969 season, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs.  He did contribute though, especially during the Mets 11 game winning streak that included a two-home run game against the Dodgers.  On July 8, Kranepool hit a fifth-inning home run off Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins, and had a game-winning RBI single to center in the ninth to give the Mets a 4-3 win against Chicago.  In the World Series, Kranepool contributed with a home run in game three of the series against the Baltimore Orioles.

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After struggling in 1969, Kranepool lost his regular first base job to Donn Clendenon and was actually demoted to AAA in June.  For the season, Kranepool was limited to 47 at bats.  By 1971 however, Kranepool was a regular again, shuffling between first and both corner outfield positions and kept the same role through the 1977 season.  In 1973, the Mets pennant-winning season, Kranepool contributed in game five of the playoffs, driving in the first two runs of the Mets’ series clinching victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

From 1974 through 1979, Kranepool excelled as a pinch hitter.  In 1974 Kranepool set a record that still stands with the highest batting average as a pinch hitter (minimum 30 at-bats) hitting .486 in that role.  Kranepool was the last of the 1969 World Series winners still on the team in 1979, and was the last of the original 1962 Mets to play ball, retiring after the 1979 season.  No other Met in history has stayed as long with the team as Kranepool’s 18 seasons.  I can still recall the entire Stadium chanting “Eddie, Eddie” every time our beloved hero came to the plate his last few seasons.

Periods of Career

Batting Average

OBP

Slugging

OPS

1962 – 1970

.246

.298

.358

.656

1971 – 1979

.278

.333

.398

.732

Total

.261

.316

.377

.693

The franchise record holder in games played (1,853), second in at-bats (5,436); plate appearances (5,997); hits (1,418) all behind David Wright, and in the top ten in doubles (225); triples (25); home runs (118), RBIs (614); and walks (454).  Obviously Casey’s pupil was paying attention in class.  A member of the Mets Hall of Fame since 1990, Ed Kranepool has not yet been named to the Metsmerized Hall of Fame. Maybe in 2017?

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About Carl Aridas 15 Articles
Mets fan since the Wayne Garrett/Craig Swan/Joe Torre days, Carl works as a bank consultant during the day, but at night enjoys writing baseball articles for Fangraphs, Hardball Times, and Metsmerized Online. He joined as a MMO Rookie of the Year hopeful in 2016 and has been a Mets fan for more than 40+ years.