This Date In Mets History: January 23 — Kiner Finally Gets His Korner In The Hall Of Fame

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BBWAA belatedly acknowledges long-time Mets announcer’s illustrious playing career.

If you want evidence that the BBWAA has always been rather arbitrary and inconsistent regarding their Hall of Fame voting, consider the case of Ralph Kiner, elected to that institution on this date in 1975.

Here is a man who, at the time his playing career ended after the 1955 season, ranked seventh all-time in home runs, and is still 13th in career slugging percentage and 12th in OPS (just ahead of Ty Cobb). Yet he didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame until 15 years after his first year of eligibility (in which he garnered all of 1.1 percent of the votes needed), and only then made it by a margin of ONE vote. If he hadn’t been elected in 1975, he would then have been at the mercy of the even-more-capricious Veterans Committee.

Perhaps some myopic voters fixated on his .279 batting average, admittedly low by HOF standards back then, while ignoring his .398 on-base percentage — identical to that of Joe DiMaggio (who hit fewer home runs in a lot more at-bats). Maybe it was the brevity of his injury-shortened career. Kiner is one of only five position players in the Hall who logged 10 or fewer seasons and three of the others — Jackie Robinson, Monte Irvin, and Roy Campanella — lost some prime years because of the color barrier.

Also on this date, Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays were elected to the HOF in their first years of eligibility, 1962 and 1979, respectively. Mays got 94.7 percent of the vote, which means 23 of the 432 writers deemed him not Hall-worthy. Didn’t they know he had a career before he came to the Mets? More damning is the slim margin of only five votes that put Robinson over the top. There ought to be a plaque in front of the giant blue “42” inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field inscribed with the names of the 36 writers who left him off their ballots and as brief notation of their collective dirty deed.

Birthdays

Left-hander Robert Carson, who turns 24 today, has a legit shot at making the Mets' bullpen this year, especially if he can improve his secondary pitches to better set up his 94+ MPH fastball. I would love it if, when Carson comes in from the bullpen, the crowd at Citi Field shouted in unison, “He-e-e-ere’s ROBERT!”

Charlie Greene and Mike Piazza were both right-handed batters who played for the Miami-Dade College Sharks and went on to become major league catchers. The similarity ends there. In 1996 Greene, who turns 42 today, caught two innings of one game and pinch-hit (unsuccessfully) in another. He managed to hang on for 53 more major league games with three other teams over the next four years.

The late Bob Moorhead, who would have been 75 today, was the Mets’ very first relief pitcher. In the team’s debut on April 11, 1962, after starter Roger Craig gave up five runs in three innings, Moorhead came in and did the same, although only two of his runs allowed were earned. His splits that year showed he was more effective as a starter. In fact, the Amazins produced a winning record (4-3) in his starts, a claim no other Mets hurler could make that year. He himself went winless in 1962 and again in a brief reprise in 1965, his only two seasons in the majors.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection

Happy 63rd birthday to actor Richard Dean Anderson, who for seven seasons portrayed the title character in the TV series “MacGyver.” That show about a super-resourceful secret agent should be required viewing for the Mets’ brain trust. After all, if MacGyver can make a wall-shattering torpedo out of some duct pipe, a keg of beer, a trash can, and a few other odds and ends, maybe Terry Collins can make a major league outfield out of Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, and Andrew Brown.

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