NEW YORK — Ralph Kiner was a smash as a slugger, launching so many home runs over the left-field wall at old Forbes Field that fans nicknamed it his corner.
Years later, as one of baseball’s most beloved broadcasters, he became a big hit in a new “Kiner’s Korner.”
Kiner, the Hall of Famer whose frequent malaprops endeared him to New York Mets listeners for more than a half-century, died Thursday. He was 91.
The Hall of Fame said Kiner died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with his family at his side.
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“He was a jewel,” Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver said.
Kiner hit 369 home runs during a 10-year career cut short by back problems. He debuted with Pittsburgh in 1946 and won or tied for the National League lead in homers in each of his first seven seasons.
He was popular off the field, too. His Hollywood pals included Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, he squired Liz Taylor and Janet Leigh, and he played himself in the 1951 film “Angels in the Outfield.”
Kiner was already a fixture on the Mets’ airwaves when he was inducted into the Hall in 1975. He was elected with just one vote to spare in his 15th and final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
The six-time All-Star outfielder still ranks sixth all-time with a home run every 14.1 at-bats.
When he retired, Kiner was sixth on the career home-run list. To generations of TV viewers and radio listeners, his postcareer acclaim was as great as the honors he earned on the field.
Kiner was known for tripping over his own words, and often laughed about his own comments.
“If Casey Stengel were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave,” he once commented after a misplay.
“On Father’s Day, we again wish you all a happy birthday,” he also said.
• Spring training officially began when Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers reported, with their first workout set for Friday. On the other side of suburban Phoenix, in Glendale, Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers report Saturday. Full-squad workouts for both teams begin next week. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers get an early start because they will open the MLB season with a two-game series in Australia on March 22-23.
• Catcher Matt Wieters and the Baltimore Orioles avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $7.7 million, one-year contract, a raise of $2.2 million.
• The Arizona Diamondbacks avoided arbitration with Mark Trumbo by agreeing to a $4.8 million, one-year contract with the outfielder.
• Reliever Carlos Marmol and the Miami Marlins have reportedly agreed to a $1.25 million, one-year contract.
• Right-hander Jerome Williams and Houston finalized a $2.1 million, one-year contract.
• The Chicago Cubs agreed to a $2.3 million, one-year contract with second baseman Darwin Barney, avoiding arbitration.