Pastime Portraiture, #6

Ralph Kiner, spring training, Tuscon, AZ, March 1955.

Kiner’s final spring, and final season. After nine seasons in the NL, and a bad back betraying the prolific slugger, he would spend 1955 with the Cleveland Indians as a part-time LF and pinch-hitter, with 18 HRs and 54 RBIs, but would retire after the season, at only 32 years of age. He would have a short career as a minor league executive in San Diego, until his old buddy and current GM Hank Greenberg hired him for play-by-play with the White Sox in 1961. After that, New York came calling, and Ralph became a Mets’ icon, with over 50 years of Amazin’ memories. And Ralph is still with us in 2013, at 90 years of age. So for having one of the shortest HOF careers (10 years), he’s one of the few that can say he’s been in professional baseball for over 70 years in some capacity. Long live Ralph Kiner.

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3 responses to “Pastime Portraiture, #6

  1. Hi Tom,
    Would you be able to put up any photos of Tito Francona and the 1959 Cleveland Indians? They were a good team that year, finishing 10 games ahead of the mighty Yanks and only 5 behind the Chisox. Frank Lane ruined that club with crazy trades before the ‘ 60 season. Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn – Lane gave away 40 homers! And in those days 40 was today’s equivalent to at least 50, if not more!
    Thanks,
    Jim Montemurro
    Westfield, NJ

    • Hi Jim, been busy, but back to blog more in the coming weeks. I’ll have to see what I can find on the ’59 Indians, I’ll definitely put it on my list for sure.

      • Thanks Tom. Baseball had 2 great pennant races that year. In the AL, the Indians and White Sox went head-to-head until mid-September and in the NL, it came down to a playoff between LA and the Braves. I was 8 years old and 1959 was my first vivid year of being an avid fan. I was overjoyed when the Dodgers won it all but could you imagine if Cleveland got to the WS – they drew 92,000+ in the LA Coliseum and they would have drawn 80,000+ in Municipal Stadium and if the series went 7 games, the pocket would have been enormous for that era!
        Frank Lane destroyed the Indians after ’59 with horribly stupid trades, especially Colavito for Harvey Kuenn. It was all downhill for the Tribe after that.
        I also have keen memories of my Dad taking me to a DH between the Tribe and Yanks at the Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 13, ‘ 59 and the Indians lost 2 heartbreakers to take them out of the race. Throughout the games I can remember hearing from all the Yankee fans how shocked they were from the Bombers poor showing for the year. We sat on third base (my Dad’s favorite spot) and I can still see the faces of Billy Martin (an Indian that year), Tito Francona, Vic Power, Woodie Held, Minoso, Piersall, and of course, the
        Rock.
        I could talk baseball all day!
        Jim Montemurro
        Westfield, NJ

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