Alhambra baseball greats

Alhambra High clinched its sixth consecutive Almont League baseball championship Wednesday night, with a tenth-inning win over Montebello. Monterey Park-based writer, Jesse Katz, recently provided a glimpse into the Moors’ exceptional skills — past and present — in his blog, News from The Opposite Field. The blog is primarily a continuation of his memoir, the Opposite Field, and the baseball adventures of his son, Max, a junior on the less successful Mark Keppel team. Mixed in are stories from Katz’s work as an award-winning LA Times and Los Angeles Magazine writer. And throughout are tidbits of local lore and analysis. One such post was a couple weeks ago when Keppel traveled to Alhambra High, and Katz tells the story of Alhambra High alum and Hall of Fame slugger, Ralf Kiner.

“Born in the tiny coal-mining town of Santa Rita, New Mexico, Kiner moved to Alhambra when he was four, after the death of his father, a steam-shovel operator, and was raised here, alone by his mother, who found work as an insurance company nurse. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1940, the year he graduated from high school, and soon emerged as the most prolific home-run hitter of the post-World War II era,” Katz writes. “Nobody at Alhambra today is likely to be headed to Cooperstown—and nobody is named Kiner (more like Saldate, Beltran, Crespo, Solis, and Marin)—but the team still plays nearly flawless baseball.”

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