Profiles of Valor
Born in New Mexico in the fall of 1922, Ralph Kiner led a life that included a Hall of Fame baseball career and serviceto his country.
His professional career began in 1941 as an outfielder with the Albany Senators in the Class A Eastern League. He then joined the Toronto Maple Leaves of the International League in 1943 but joined the Navy shortly after.
Before embarking on his hall of fame baseball career, Ralph Kiner served his country in World War II. He joined the United States Navy in 1944 and earned his pilot’s wings in December of that year. Kiner served in Patrol Squadron 99 ofthe U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. During his time in the Navy he barely played baseball because he was busy logging roughly 1,200 hours flying Martin PBM Mariners from Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station in Hawaii on submarine patrols.
His storied baseball career began in 1946 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kiner went on to play ten seasons of Major LeagueBaseball before a back injury forced him into an early retirement. In 1947, his second season in the league, Kiner led all ofMajor League Baseball with fifty-one home runs. Two seasons later, he topped that record and led the league with fifty-four home runs, making Kiner the first player to ever record two fifty home run seasons in National League history. Kiner was named an All-Star six times and led the National League in home runs seven times. He also led the National League inhome runs once.
For his career, Ralph Kiner posted a batting average of .279 while launching 369 home runs and driving in 1,015 runs. Kiner was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975, and the Pittsburgh Pirates retired his number, 4, in 1987.He retired in 1955 and went on to be a general manager for the San Diego Padres and a broadcaster for the White Sox and the Mets.
Ralph Kiner cemented himself as a hero and a legend because of his service to his country and his accomplishments on the baseball diamond.