Ralph Kiner: 1922-2014

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Sad news to pass along this afternoon, as Hall of Fame outfielder and broadcasting legend Ralph Kiner has passed away. He was 91 years old.

A feared slugger, Kiner had a storied and brief playing career, compiling a .279/.398/.548 batting line and 369 home runs over 10 seasons between the Pirates, Cubs, and Indians. A six-time All-Star, he either led or tied for the National League lead in home runs for each of his first seven seasons (1946-1952) in the majors. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

Back injuries forced Kiner into early retirement at 32 years old, but he soon created a whole new legion of fans as a broadcaster. While he began his broadcasting career in 1961 with the White Sox, he’s best known as one of the voices of the Mets. He was there at the inception of the franchise in 1962 along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy and became an institution, beloved for his wit, storytelling ability, and occasional flubs. His “Kiner’s Korner” post-game show on WOR-TV was iconic and the site of many classic moments.

Kiner was a big part of my fan experience as a child and it was still a treat to see him stop by the SNY booth in recent years. While he was getting older, he was just as sharp as ever. He’ll be dearly missed.

Here’s a statement from Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon:

“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman. After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit, and charm entertained generations of Mets fans. Like his stories, he was one of a kind. We send our deepest condolences to Ralph’s five children and 12 grandchildren. Our sport and society today lost one of the all-time greats.”

Anthony DeSclafani crushed a grand slam for his first career home run

Anthony DeSclafani
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Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani put on a show during Saturday’s matinee against the Cubs. Up 2-1 in the third inning, the hurler hooked a Brian Duensing fastball over the left field fence for his first career home run — and first career grand slam:

Grand slams are impressive no matter the player or situation, but they’re made all the more special in rare circumstances like this one. Not only is DeSclafani the first pitcher to deliver a grand slam in 2018, but he’s the first Reds hurler to do so in nearly 60 years. Per MLB.com’s Brian Scott Rippee, right-hander Bob Purkey was the last to hit a slam for the Reds in 1959, when he took Cubs reliever John Buzhardt deep in the third inning of a 12-3 drubbing.

The 28-year-old righty had a decent outing on the mound as well, holding the Cubs to two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before passing the ball to reliever Michael Lorenzen. Entering Saturday, he carried a 2-1 record in three games, with a 4.60 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 15 2/3 innings — not too shabby for someone who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016.

The Reds currently lead 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh.