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Q+A [RALPH KINER]
Richard Deitsch
June 07, 2004
The 81-year-old Hall of Fame slugger has been a Mets broadcaster since 1962 and is the author of Baseball Forever.
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June 07, 2004

Q+a [ralph Kiner]

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The 81-year-old Hall of Fame slugger has been a Mets broadcaster since 1962 and is the author of Baseball Forever.

SI: You hit 369 homers in your 10-year career. Have you been underrated as a power hitter?

Kiner: No question. I think the reason I didn't get a lot of credit is that I played before television, and the Pirates [for whom Kiner played more than seven seasons] were really a bad ball club.

SI: What's one benefit of staying in broadcasting for more than 40 years?

Kiner: Most of the people who would argue with what you're saying are dead.

SI: During your playing days you dated Janet Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor (below). Today we'd call you "a player." Did they have a name for athletes who dated movie stars back in your day?

Kiner: No, they didn't [laughs]. At that time few players got a shot at dating the movie people. One of the reasons I was able to was that Bing Crosby was one of the owners of the Pirates. But I met Janet Leigh at Forbes Field when she was working on Angels in the Outfield. She was standing at the batting cage, and I got to know her by talking to her. So that was all on my own.

SI: You are critical of Branch Rickey in your book. In your opinion, did Rickey bring Jackie Robinson to the majors in 1947 for altruistic or financial reasons?

Kiner: I personally think it was not altruistic. When he got black players, he got them out of the Negro leagues for no cost. He didn't reimburse the owners. The other thing was that when he came to Pittsburgh [in 1950], he was in no hurry to get black players on that team. We went several years before he got black players on the Pirates. But that's just my opinion.

SI: Do any of today's power hitters ever ask for advice?

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