Hall of Fame slugger Kiner dies aged 91

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 06, 2014 5:14 PM

(Reuters) - Hall of Fame slugger and outfielder Ralph Kiner, who became one of baseball's best known broadcasters, died on Thursday at the age of 91.

Kiner passed away at his home in Rancho Mirage, California with his family at his side, the baseball Hall of Fame said.

During his decade-long career, Kiner hit 369 home runs and won or shared the National League home run title in each of his first seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Ralph Kiner was one of the greatest sluggers in National League history," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

"His consistent power and patience in the heart of the Pirates lineup made him a member of our All-Century Team and, in many respects, a player ahead of his time.

"Ralph dominated at the plate for a decade, but his contributions to our national pastime spanned generations."

Kiner twice topped 50 home runs during a season, with 51 in 1947 and 54 in 1949, and averaged more than 100 runs batted in per season. He averaged a home run every 14.1 at-bats, the sixth-best ratio of all-time.

He played for the Pirates from 1946-53, the Chicago Cubs in 1953-54 and the Cleveland Indians in 1955.

After Kiner's playing career was cut short by lingering back trouble, he switched to the broadcast booth in 1962 and become an iconic figure while commentating for the New York Mets.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)