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.”

Leonys Martin to be released from hospital

Leonys Martin
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Indians outfielder Leonys Martin will be released from the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday, according to comments from club president Chris Antonetti. Martin was hospitalized with a life-threatening bacterial infection several weeks ago, one that was said to have affected multiple organs and jeopardized Martin’s quality of life, as well as his career. The length of his recovery process is still undefined, Antonetti added, noting that there’s “no precedent for how to return to playing shape,” though it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to work back up to full strength before the season wraps up in September.

It’s been a tumultuous season for Martin, who also battled a left hamstring strain that cost him another four weeks on the disabled list earlier this year. He’s appeared in just six games with the Indians this season, collecting five hits and two home runs over 17 plate appearances. Taking into account his 78-game stint with the Tigers prior to the trade deadline, he slashed a combined .255/.323/.425 with 11 homers and a .747 OPS across 353 PA in 2018.

As the outfielder’s status is still up in the air for the time being, no significant roster changes appear to be in the team’s immediate future. Fellow outfielders Greg Allen and Rajai Davis will continue to split duties in center field during Martin’s absence. The 25-year-old rookie, Allen, has seen the bulk of the starts in center field over the last two weeks and is currently batting .243/.278/.305 with seven extra-base hits and a .583 OPS in his first full season at the major league level.