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Kiner's Korner

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  • Kiner's Korner

    When I was a kid, into my teens, I probably caught almost every televised Mets game every season. A special treat for me after the home games was always Kiner's Korner. Of course I loved Ralph Kiner; I spent so much time with him growing up that he seemed like family. When you watch hundreds of unscripted hours with someone, I believe you get a feel of what sort of person they are. Ralph always seemed sweet-natured and genial - it took a while to realize what sort of tremendous athlete he was because he was so genuinely humble about it.

    Of course, these shows were also the source of much unintended humor, because of Ralph's tendency to forget what he was saying while he was saying it. There were also other nuggets of fun to be found. Watching Ralph (a great ladies man in his day) hit on Lenny Dykstra's mom was some of the best television I've ever seen. But because of his charm and good nature, the lapses in standard professional conduct made him seem that much more human - and even lovable.

    Through it all, Ralph felt sort of like a very well liked great uncle to me.

    I thought it might be nice for those of us who grew up watching him to share some memories of the show. I'll start by mentioning the Dykstra's mom show. I also especially liked it when he'd forget his own name in the introduction to the show: "Hello everyone, and welcome to Kiner's Korner - I'm Ralph Korner" or "I'm... uh... uh...".

    Eventually, nothing really surprised you.

    Does anyone else have any memories to share?

    "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!

  • #2
    I remember listening to Kiner mix up names:

    1) Mookie Brooks
    2) Gary Carter...was on occassion Gary Cooper
    3) Hubie Wilson


    • #3
      Some classics from the great broadcaster:

      "All of Rick Aguilera's saves have come in relief appearances."

      "All the Met wins on the road against Los Angeles this year have come at Dodger stadium."

      "It's Father's Day today at Shea, so to all you fathers out there, Happy Birthday."
      Click here to see my autographed 8x10 collection


      • #4
        After the PA finished playing Center Field from John Fohgerty Kiner called the Astros Center Fielder John Fohgerty


        • #5
          I also heard him refer to Gary Carter as Gary Crater at that time; though this was less frequent than Cooper. I've seen it mentioned that Kiner's drinking was a contributing factor to his befuddlement - but I never knew he had the reputation of a drinker, or at least a problem drinker.

          Does anyone know more about this than I do?

          The screw-ups seemed to pick up steam in the early to mid-80s. I wonder if old Ralph went on some sort of medication at that time?

          "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!


          • #6
            i espcially recall shows from 1969. the game that they clinched the pennant was great. several of the players were on, they just kept walking in and outof the show, while the mayhem in the locker room was taking place.


            • #7
              We have to mention the Choo Choo Coleman exchange:

              Ralph: "What's your wife's name and what's she like?"
              Choo Choo: "Her name's Mrs. Coleman and she likes me, bub!"


              • #8
                Kiner didn't have that rummy nose for nothing. he was a major league drinker and it showed all the time on kiners korner.
                "to a new yorker like you a hero is some sort of weird sandwich"

                "Because I'm loyal and true, to the orange and blue"


                • #9
                  Here's what I wrote about my memories of Kiner's Korner, which I loved for the same bizarre reasons as everyone else. This is from my book, Mets Fan (McFarland, 2007).

                  RALPH KINER

                  The old Mets’ TV post-game show, “Kiner’s Corner,” would begin, remember, with music that sounded like something a German band would play at an Oktoberfest. It was the wrong kind of music for a show like this, but hey, it was Ralph’s show and Ralph was Ralph and it was all right for that reason. When the music faded, you’d see Ralph sitting in a chair, with that way he had of looking like he was completely at home and yet had just been beamed down from Mars and was still getting his bearings. A ballplayer would be in the other chair. Ralph didn’t seem completely aware of why the ballplayer was there but he recognized that it was his obligation to make the player feel comfortable. So Ralph would ask a question at the end of which you could not possibly justify putting a question mark. The player would listen and then, when he finally realized that the question mark was not coming, he would start talking. He would usually say something about expecting a fastball because the pitcher had thrown him a curve ball on the two previous pitches and it was a fastball and high and inside and he got a piece of it and he was glad that whatever happened happened.

                  Ralph, without betraying or expressing his emotions in any way, would always wait until the player stopped talking before he began asking his next question. The player, who knew this time that a question mark was not coming, just as he had known that the curveball was not coming, was now more at ease and he would launch right into his next disquisition about the pitch he expected and the pitches the pitcher threw and blah blah blah. After Ralph did this three or four more times, the show would end and you would hear the bratwurst music again.

                  It was a great show. There was something hypnotic about it. I don’t think Ralph was on the sauce, as some have suggested. But I also don’t think he hosted Kiner’s Korner the way he did on purpose. Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy did and said what they did on purpose. Ralph just happened. That was his charm.

                  A lot of times Ralph would open his mouth and words would just fall out of them. Fathers on Fathers’ Day were all wished a Happy Birthday. Current ballplayers would briefly borrow the names of ballplayers who hadn’t played for thirty years. And we would learn things like the fact that the Mets had a good road record when they played at Dodger Stadium.

                  Still, as funny as he could be, Ralph isn’t and wasn’t a comic figure. He has presence. He is the guy who comes along, who sits in the back seat and doesn’t call attention to himself. You talk with him a little to be polite and you find out, always to your amazement, that he was one of the greatest home run hitters who ever lived, that he knew everyone who ever played, that he has a deep, inner knowledge of the workings of the game, and that he’s slept with half of the women who still get you excited in great American films of the 1950s. What are you supposed to make of an existence like Ralph Kiner’s? How could someone hit all those home runs, know so much about baseball, sleep with Ava Gardner, and still be Ralph Kiner? Quick, imagine Ava Gardner on Kiner’s Korner. Something close to this may have actually happened. And all you can do is imagine it. He remembers it. I think. Imagine what Ralph Kiner’s memories must look like.

                  After a while, you realize that this humble, relaxed man really is who he says he is. You realize how smart and witty he is, without apparent effort or even intention. You end up loving him, and needing him to be there, but you still don’t know where to put him. You can understand why you loved Bob Murphy because he was a great announcer and he had his uniquely generous and hopeful view of the universe. Lindsey Nelson, with his thirties voice and seventies jackets, was an accomplished showman. Gary Cohen and Howie Rose are the new style of great announcers, articulate professionals. What is Ralph? He’s just somebody you couldn’t have made up and you’ve come to love. He is like the soul of old baseball, from a time when people were characters and life was an adventure, even for those who weren’t adventurous. As Ralph slips away, I know I am losing something. I still want to hear his voice, even with the palsy. I can still understand him. I need to continue to know that his world really existed.

                  Ralph threw out the first pitch at the second NLDS playoff game in 2006. I saw him from my seat way up in the upper deck. He had on a bright yellow sweater. But even at that enormous distance, you could tell it was Ralph. You could tell by the way he ambled, by how big and solid his head and his body were. There he was, so far away and so familiar. Throwing the ball to the catcher. Sort of. And then walking off the field.
                  sigpic Please check out my book, Mets Fan
                  Please check out my blog, Mets Fan Blog
                  Read about my new book The Last Days of Shea


                  • #10
                    My all time favorite Kiner's Korner broadcast occured in the early 1960's and was witnessed by one of the baseball players I've talked with in my Steve Dalkowski book project. According to this former player (who would later play with the Mets, but he was with the Yankees at the time of the broadcast), he was flipping channels and Kiner's Korner had just started. The Mets played the Reds that day and Kiner's guest was Frank Robinson.

                    About seven years earlier, Robby had sat open-mouthed in amazement as Steve Dalkowski had blown away Don Hoak, Dee Fondy, and Alex Grammas on 12 pitches during an exhibition game between Cincinnati and the Baltimore Orioles. Kiner was asking Robinson about pitchers. He'd said something to the effect of Sandy Koufax having the best curve he'd ever seen.

                    Ralph then asked Frank who had the best fastball. He'd said it was Koufax once more, but added that Koufax wasn't the fastest. When Kiner asked him who was, he responded, without missing a beat, "Steve Dalkowski." Kiner nodded, stared for a second, and then uttered forth the inevitable "Who?"
                    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
                    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.


                    • #11
                      I remember about 20 years ago, I'm in my den, and my mom's next to me, knitting. Mets are playing the Cards; the Redbirds had some young kid, I think he was an outfielder. His name was Curt Ford.

                      Well, you know how Ralph played this one.

                      My mom looks up, says, "what? Who? That's impossible! Didn't he retire?"


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paulypal View Post
                        I remember listening to Kiner mix up names:

                        1) Mookie Brooks
                        2) Gary Carter...was on occassion Gary Cooper
                        3) Hubie Wilson
                        Don't forget Ron Gardenhose. *hiccup*
                        Put it in the books.


                        • #13
                          Does anybody else remember the time Ralph was hitting on Len Dykstra's mom on live television?

                          Here is a transcript:


                          RALPH: Well, hi everybody and welcome to Kiner’s Korner. Mets winning today by a score of 2 to nothing. (Camera shows Dykstra and a young looking blonde woman sitting next to him with a piece of paper and a pen. She is smiling and he has his head down with a smirk on his face.) And we’re going to have on the show as a star of the game, and he certainly was defensively and offensively, Lenny Dykstra. Lenny of course having a fantastic season for the New York Mets. And Lenny, who’s that fan that wants your autograph? (Lenny doesn’t answer)

                          BLONDE WOMAN: Would you sign this autograph for Jonathan Friedman? He’s the son of the statistician Artie Friedman. Thank you. (Lenny grabs the pen and signs the paper)

                          RALPH: So while Lenny signs the autograph, we’ll be back to take a look at the highlights of the ball game and talk to Lenny and look at that scoreboard right after this message from Miller High Life. (cut to commercial)

                          RALPH: Well, our guest on today’s show is Lenny Dykstra and also with Lenny Dykstra, his best fan, a person who knows him better than anybody else in the world, and that person is Marilyn Dykstra, his mother. Welcome to the show.

                          MARILYN: Thank you, Ralph. (Lenny still staring down at the ground)

                          RALPH: Marilyn, how about Lenny when he was growing up? Did you think he’d be a major league star?

                          MARILYN: Well, I think so. When he was a little guy every night before he’d go to bed, he slept with his bat, his ball, and his glove and he'd pray, 'Please, God. Let me be a pro ball player some day.' He’s had the desire since he was a real small little boy. And he used to go to the Angels' stadium and try to sneak into the dugout. One time I got a phone call and they said, 'You’d better come down to the station and get your son because he was trying to see Rod Carew,' who was always his idol and I had to go down and pick him up at the station. We’ll never forget that (Lenny is still staring at the ground and looking as though he wishes he could disappear).

                          RALPH: (Laughing) Have you had any other problems like that Lenny?

                          LENNY: No, Ralph. That was a long time ago. I just wanted to see what the clubhouse looked like.

                          RALPH: Well, you sure have an attractive mother and of course that doesn’t hurt anything at all. And she follows your career and she’s been involved with you. And you’ve done something that no one expected, with the possible exception of the two of you right there. You have just torn up the National League in the first half of the season.

                          LENNY: Well, thank you, Ralph . . . (the next one minute was spent reviewing the highlights of the game with Lenny. During that time Ralph called Bruce Benedict Bruce Berenyi) When you’re hot your hot. Can’t do no wrong.

                          RALPH: Does your mother bring you luck when she’s at the ball park?

                          LENNY: Yeah, she seems to. When I was in the minor leagues she came out to visit me and I seemed to play well there, too. So she’ll probably be here to the World Series, too.

                          RALPH: Well, she’s a great inspiration. There’s no doubt about it. (Lenny nods). Marilyn, thank you very much for coming on the show with Lenny.

                          MARILYN: (smiling broadly) Thank you for having me, Ralph.

                          RALPH: It had to be a thrill to watch Lenny play like that.

                          MARILYN: It certainly is. Thank you.

                          RALPH: We’ll be back with Rusty Staub on his day here today and look at the highlights, and check out the scores, but first this message from Mitsubishi Motors (Commercial).

                          They don’t have interviews like that on TV anymore. Ralph was and is the best.

                          I was watching this unfold as it happened. Was anyone else?

                          It had been on youtube, but MLB in its self-destructive foolishness got its lawyers to hassle them into removing it. As far as I know Kiner's Korner is unavailable for sale anywhere. Does anyone know where to find the old episodes?

                          "The Fightin' Met With Two Heads" - Mike Tyson/Ray Knight!


                          • #14
                            I don't recall the Lenny Dykstra's mom episode, probably because I was in college during those years. I loved Kiner's Korner and have great memories of watching so many of those, especially in the 70's.

                            If they are still around it would be fantastic if SNY would televise them but I remember hearing at one time that they had been lost. Hope that isn't true.


                            • #15
                              RALPH: We’ll be back with Rusty Staub on his day here today and look at the highlights, and check out the scores, but first this message from Mitsubishi Motors (Commercial).
                              Remember what a hard time Ralph always had saying Mitsubishi? LOL


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