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Baseball Hall of Famer and Alhambra High alum Ralph Kiner dies at 91

Alhambra High School alum and baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner passed away Thursday at the age of 91. Kiner, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Cleveland Indians between 1946 to 1955, died of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Pasadena Star-News reports. Baseball fans and Alhambra Source readers shared their memories of Kiner on Facebook and Twitter. Read their thoughts below and share your own.

Kiner was raised in Alhambra and played Moors baseball until he graduated from AHS in 1940. Kiner signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and led the National League in home runs for seven seasons, the Star-News reports. The famous slugger hit 369 home runs in his career, often saying, "If you can't hit a home run, where's the fun in baseball?", according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kiner was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. "As one of baseball's most prolific power hitters for a decade, Ralph struck fear into the hearts of the best pitchers of baseball's Golden Era despite his easygoing nature, disarming humility and movie-star smile," Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said Thursday in a statement to ESPN New York.

After his 10-year Hall of Fame career on the field was cut short due to a back injury, Kiner moved to the broadcast booth where he became the "voice of the New York Mets," according to the New York Times. He spent half a century with the Mets, announcing plays and providing analysis. He won an Emmy for his broadcasts, according to the L.A. Times, and was elected into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1984.

Aside from his Hall of Fame career, Kiner also owned a sporting goods store in Alhambra on 129 W. Main St. with fellow baseball player and AHS graduate Max West, according to the L.A. Times. West eventually bought out Kiner and ran Kiner and West Sporting Goods until he retired in 1980.

Alhambra City Council dedicated in 2008 a statue in Kiner's honor at Almansor Park's baseball field. "The City of Alhambra dedicates this statue and plaque in honor of Ralph Kiner, that it may serve as an inspiration to future generations of young baseball players," the plaque at the statue reads. 

Owen Guenthard, executive director of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce, met Kiner when he came back to the city for the dedication event. “I just knew him as a baseball fan,” Guenthard said. “It was great of him to come back for the dedication.”

Fans of the Hall of Fame slugger and Alhambra Source readers shared their thoughts on Kiner's passing. Read what they had to say below and share your own memories of Kiner with us.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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2 thoughts on “Baseball Hall of Famer and Alhambra High alum Ralph Kiner dies at 91”

  1. In another article (not sure where), I read that he also attended Fremont Elementary School. As I recall, the sporting goods store later was simply called Max West Sports or Sporting Goods.

    Hometown Boy Made Good!

  2. When I was a boy growing up in Alhambra, the sports store Kiner & West (baseball stars Ralph Kiner and Max West) was the most important store in town. I remember meeting Kiner who autographed a baseball for me (I still have it). He asked me a lot of questions about myself and acted genuinely interested in my answers. He made me feel like someone very important.