Kiner played just ten seasons in Major League Baseball, but he made a big impact, leading the league in home runs for six straight seasons and finishing with 369 overall, good for sixth in the record books at the time. (Via Baseball Reference)
Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said, “Ralph struck fear into the hearts of the best pitchers of Baseball's Golden Era despite his easy-going nature, disarming humility and movie-star smile.”
But Kiner reached even more fans when he began announcing for the Chicago White Sox and later the New York Mets.
“Well, hi everybody. I’m Ralph Kiner and we have as our special guest, Tom Seaver. It was a fitting day for two great pitchers and Tom Seaver, of course, started the ball game for the Mets.” (Via WWOR)
On his show “Kiner’s Korner,” he was as famous for his "Kiner-isms" as he was for his slams, for example wishing all the dads Happy Birthday on Father’s Day or accidentally introducing himself as Ralph Korner.
And in his playing days, he famously said, "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords” after signing a then-record-breaking contract with the Pirates. (Via CBS)
But Sports Illustrated’s Richard Hoffer thinks Kiner should be remembered for his on-field play, saying “Still, it seems a shame to remember Kiner for anything he said, whether it was silly or incisive, when his actual body of work was so much more impressive, more genuine.”
"Mr. Home Run," as he was called, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. Kiner left behind five children and twelve grandchildren. He was 91 years old.