SCP Auctions proudly brought "The Ralph Kiner Collection" to auction May 27th, 2004.
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Ralph Kiner was baseball's greatest home run hitter during the years after World War II. Although his career was curtailed by a bad back, the powerful right handed slugger had a ratio of homers to at-bats exceeded only by Babe Ruth.
Signed by the Pirates for an $8,000 bonus, Kiner hit 27 home runs in two minor league seasons before the war. Following military service (1943-45), he became Pittsburgh's starting left fielder in 1946. In his debut season, he hit 23 homers to tie the club record and lead the NL, the lowest total to lead the league since 1921. As the Pirates' first home run champion since 1906, Kiner rekindled the spirits of Pittsburgh baseball fans. Pirates home attendance rose to its highest level since the pennant year of 1927 even though the team tumbled to seventh place.
In 1947, the Pirates obtained Hank Greenberg, the '46 AL home run champ, and proceeded to reconfigure Forbes Field to suit the two right handed power hitters. A double bullpen, 30 feet wide by 200 feet long, was dubbed "Greenberg's Gardens" (later Kiner's Korner). The two sluggers became roommates and lifelong friends, and Kiner credited Greenberg with his continued success. Greenberg managed 25 homers in what was to be his only season in Pittsburgh, but Kiner blasted 51 to tie Johnny Mize for the NL lead. Finishing strong, he set a ML record with eight homers in four games from September 10 to 12. His batting average jumped to a career-high .313 and he led the NL with a slugging percentage of .639
Meanwhile, attendance continued to boom at Forbes Field despite the Pirates' poor record. Fans would stay in the stands until Kiner had his final at-bat, then file for the exits. More than five million fans paid to watch Kiner blast home runs for losing pirates teams from 1947-50.
After his retirement, he served briefly as GM of the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast League, then launched a prolific career in broadcasting. For four decades, beginning with their inception in 1962, Kiner did play-by-play for the Mets. His baseball knowledge and raw analysis endeared him to viewers and made Ralph Kiner as much a part of a Mets broadcast as the television set itself.