Oct 25, 2015

Legendary Mets Broadcaster Ralph Kiner- A Real Ladies Man Back In His Day

I recently watched the original 1951 movie "Angels In The Outfield". The movie focuses on the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, whose fortunes change when an orphan girl prays to the angel Gabriel.

The angel speaks to the teams grumpy manager and the Pirates start to win & eventually take the NL pennant. The story becomes national news, covered by a pretty female reporter, played by Janet Leigh.
Footage of #4, slugger Ralph Kiner blasting a HR & rounding the bases is seen in the film. Through the years, people knew Ralph as the legendary Mets announcer known for his malapropisms. But most people don't know how popular & kool Kiner was in his playing days. Especially with the ladies, beautiful & famous ladies at that.

First off, Kiner led the major leagues in HRs, a record six straight years. He also led the N.L. a record seven times. If he had played in New York on an actual winning team, he'd be bigger than that Ruth character.  

That said, Kiner was an All Star on a last place team. The now legendary old story goes, when Kiner asked Pirates GM; ranch Rickey for a raise. Rickey told him " What place did we come in last year Ralph?". When Ralph replied last, Rickey said "We could have finished last without you & your home runs".
Back in the 1940's one of the Pittsburgh Pirates owners was movie star; Bing Crosby. (hence a movie surrounding the Pirates) In the movie; Angles in the Outfield, there are cameos by Bing Crosby, as well as baseball players; Ty Cobb, & Joe DiMaggio.

Ralph with Janet Leigh
The film also features Kiner's (un credited) who is #9 blasting a HR & doing his own classic HR trot. The film features James Whitmore (voice of the angel) as well as Barbra Billingsley (Leave it To Beaver) & Peter Graves (Mission Impossible) in early roles.

During the filming of "Angels In The Outfield" Ralph Kiner met the beautiful actress; Janet Leigh by the batting cage. The suave, kool Mr. Kiner & the lovely Ms. Leigh soon became an item. Janet eventually married Tony Curtis, and is the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis & Kelly Curtis.

Janet Leigh
This was just the start for the Ladies Man known as Ralph Kiner.
Rumors have it that soon, Kiner would have romantic liaisons with suck beauties as Ava Gardner, Jane Russell & even Marilyn Monroe. You go Ralph.

the lovely Eva Gardner

Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell
Thanks to Bing Crosby, celebrities would sometimes come out to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh for Pirates games. Kiner also used this opportunity to briefly escort a young, teenage Elizabeth Taylor around town.

Kiner & Liz Taylor
Ralph would soon marry the lovely Tennis star of the 50's; Nancy Chaffe. Chaffe would win three championships before retiring to raise her & Ralph's three children. The best man at their wedding was; Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg.


Ralph & Nancy Chaffe Kiner
Kiner eventually moved to Palm Springs, California and got close with swimming star / movie star; Esther Williams.

He would be neighbors with Lucille Ball & Desi Arnez. Kiner continued long friendships with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Paul Hogan & Frank Sinatra to name a few celebs.

Kiner with Esther Williams


Esther Williams

Kiner would get married four times, his previous wife of 24 years; Dianne passed away in 2004. Since then he was married to Ann Kiner. 

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