(Bumped from FanPosts. -- James)
I have been a Mets fan for many years--as it is, most of my natural life. During this time I have witnessed many highs and many lows. Many fantastic players and games, and many times that would have tested the mettle of any fan. Through all of this, it has become clear that being a Mets fan requires a certain joy in the game no matter what happens, a certain humility about the inevitable loss, and a certain appreciation of fleeting victory. Baseball is not a sport that lends itself to screaming, but rather to watching, to learning, and to laughing at the foibles of what becomes your adopted family. And through the many years that I have followed this team in this town, Ralph Kiner has been an omnipresent and subtle, and much-appreciated, reminder that at the end of the day it's only a game, but during that day it's still something you ought to love and you ought to be knowledgeable and passionate about.
This is why the New York Mets ought to designate an area of Citi Field "Kiner's Korner", in recognition of what he has contributed to the idea of being a Mets fan, and the education he has given fans both about the game and about being a class act when pondering something that whatever happens, is, and always should be, enjoyable.
It's difficult to be understated and highly respected in the world of New York sports, yet for the duration of this team's existence Ralph has been just that. He has been a constant for the team through all these highs and lows, with a sense of baseball knowledge to inform and a sense of humor to put things in perspective. He has helped to shepherd not a generation, but multiple generations, of Mets fans into a knowing love of baseball. A love of baseball that does not manifest itself through shouting, but through a pause, a thought, a twang, and a sincere laugh. I think that I speak for a vast majority of Mets fans when I say that nowadays whenever Ralph is announced into the booth it's a moment to stop whatever you are doing and stay in front of the television. He didn't earn that by shock value, but by real value.
I leave Pittsburgh with the honor of Ralph's plaque in he Hall of Fame. He and that team richly deserve it, notwithstanding that they could have finished in last place with or without him (if you don't know what this refers to, Google it). In the years after he left Pittsburgh, Ralph has showed himself to be a New York icon in the best sense of the term, and moreover a fan of baseball who was willing to share his love of the game with whoever was willing to listen. After a half-century of announcing, which followed a Hall of Fame career, Ralph has had nothing left to prove for decades. Yet he still shows up for his innings and provides a voice to both this era and another. A voice that resonates with knowledge, warmth, and a subtle something that explains exactly why you care so much. That he does so can be explained by nothing else but an absolute and tested love for the game and for sharing his knowledge and impressions with others. That he has been with me doing so for the whole of my life explains why I care so much.
So give the guy the recognition he has earned. Designate a portion of Citi Field "Kiner's Korner", and use it to help to imbue the next generation with the love of the game that so many of us learned from Ralph, and with the spirit that he helped to bring to this team through the years.
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