The world said goodbye to Ralph Kiner this month, and the Mets announced they would honor their late broadcaster with a uniform sleeve patch throughout the season. This appropriate tribute was a good move by Mets management, similar to the tribute the late Gary Carter received throughout the 2012 campaign. Kiner’s presence will be all around the team in 2014 and beyond – the television booth at Citi Field bears his name, as it did in old Shea Stadium. However, New York should do more for their beloved broadcaster. The Mets should “retire” Ralph Kiner and put his name on the left field wall.
The Amazin’s are notorious for not retiring their legendary players’ numbers. Only one player in Mets history, Tom Seaver, has received the honor. The other honorees are managers Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges, baseball-wide recipient Jackie Robinson, and William A. Shea, who helped bring National League baseball back to New York. There has been clamor by fans to add some more numbers to the wall – why not start with Kiner?
Bill Shea is the most recent honoree, having been “retired” at the beginning of Shea Stadium’s final season. Thus, the precedent for retiring the “number” of someone who never put on a Mets uniform is already established. Kiner, like Shea, was an original Met, and should be honored as such on the wall.
Other baseball teams have bestowed similar honors on their legendary broadcasters – Jack Buck’s likeness appears on the Cardinals’ retired numbers wall, while Ernie Harwell’s name is present in the Tigers’ ranks. New York could easily take the black microphone sleeve patch and make it a spot on the wall.
But why stop at Kiner? Why not extend the honor to Bob Murphy, whose name adorned the radio booth at Shea? What of Lindsey Nelson, who formed a trio with Kiner and Murphy untouched by any crew today (with all respect to Gary, Keith, and Ron, of course). The Mets had the fortune of beginning the franchise with not one but three legendary broadcasters. As part of the legacy of the team that attracted the New Breed of fan, one not as concerned with wins and losses but with supporting “the boys,” New York should pay tribute to Kiner, Murphy, and Nelson with their own shared spot to the right of Bill Shea on the wall.
Ralph Kiner was, and is, a larger-than-life figure in New York Mets lore. While he will never be forgotten, seeing his name on the retired numbers wall will serve as a daily reminder of what he has meant to this franchise.