Hall Of Famer Ralph Kiner Dies At 91

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The home-run slugger played for the Cubs in 1953 and 1954.

From Major League Baseball:

Kiner played his first seven years for the Pirates and if you look at his baseball-reference page, you might be surprised to learn how dominant he was in those years. He led the National League in home runs all seven years, the major leagues in the last six of those, drew a ton of walks and was a completely dominant offensive force. He had 294 home runs after the 1952 season, at age 29, and seemed a lock to hit 500, if not 600 homers.

But Kiner had severe back problems, which led to him being included in a 10-player deal to the Cubs June 4, 1953. The Cubs got Kiner, with Joe Garagiola, George Metkovich and Howie Pollet in exchange for Bob Addis, Toby Atwell, George Freese, Gene Hermanski, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward and $150,000. Those kinds of deals were common in those days. When then-Pirates GM Branch Rickey made this trade, he told Kiner, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you."

Kiner played the rest of 1953 and all of 1954 with the Cubs before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the 1953-54 offseason for Sam Jones, who threw a no-hitter for the Cubs in 1955. Kiner played left field for the Cubs, while Hank Sauer patrolled right field. Neither had much mobility, which led to jokes about Cubs center fielders (primarily Frankie Baumholtz) having to cover the entire outfield.

After retirement, Kiner went into broadcasting, working White Sox games in 1961 and then joining the crew of the expansion Mets in 1962. He was still working pregame shows for the Mets as recently as last summer. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

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