Ed Kranepool: New York Mets Team Hall of Famer- Part One (The Sixties)

Edward Emil Kranepool was born in the Castle Hill / Soundview section of the Bronx, New York on November 8, 1944. Ed lived on Castle Hill Ave between Hermany Ave &Turnbull Ave.

Family: His father was killed in France during World War II leaving behind his wife Ethel Kranepool who was six months pregnant with Ed. Ethel raised Ed & his older sister working odd jobs & making ends meet on a military widow's pension. 

A neighbor Jim Schiaffo, who was a little league coach became the closest thing he had to a father. He would practice & teach baseball to the young Eddie. 

Quotes- Ed Kranepool: " I played every day of my life some kind of sport, preferably baseball or basketball. We played stickball in those days in the street, I used to beat the big kids. In little league I led the league in hitting three years in a row. I hit .700 every year."

Ed started out as a pitcher but turned outfielder & first baseman after he broke his arm when an opposing player tripped him while rounding the bases after a HR.

Bronx High School: He attended James Monroe High School, in the Soundview section of the Bronx at 172nd St.  There he was a star basketball player setting a school record with 385 points. He was offered scholarships by St. Johns & North Carolina but he loved baseball more. At James Monroe, he hit 19 HRs, nine in his senior year breaking former MLB slugger Hank Greenberg’s old school HR record. 

Ed hit HR balls so far, a tree beyond the outfield was named "Eddies Tree" after he had so many balls bounce off of it. There were many scouts perusing him & the hometown expansion Mets, were dying to promote a homegrown player.

On his kitchen table, at age 17, Ed Kranepool signed a contract with the expansion New York Mets for $80,000 (an estimated $1million in 2023 dollars) as a bonus baby. 

Quotes- Ed Kranepool:
" It was more money than I ever expected in my life".

With the money he moved to a split-level home in White Plains, NY with his mother & bought a convertible T-bird.

Mets Career: In late June he flew out to Los Angeles to join the Mets big league team. On his first day in a Mets uniform he watched Sandy Koufax throw a no hitter against his new team. For Ed it was the first no hitter he witnessed at the big-league level, but he would play on the losing end of three in his career.

He was sent to AAA ball but struggled then was demoted to A ball. There he was batting .340 & the Mets who were nothing short of terrible, decided to bring the youngster up in September.

MLB Debut:  On September 22d, Kranepool made his MLB debut replacing Gil Hodges at first base then grounding out at the Polo Grounds in a loss to the Chicago Cubs. In his second game, he collected his first hit, an 8th inning double off Don Elston. He only played in three games going 1-6.

Kid Kranepool:  He began his career wearing the uniform #21 known as Kid Kranepool. He eventually donned #7 because it was available & was the same number of his favorite player Mickey Mantle. At first Kranepool was a cocky kid, sensitive about the comments of his young age. 

The press followed him around looking for a story, trying to make him the Mets first homegrown star. Casey Stengle even compared him to a young Mel Ott. The young ladies flocked around him like a rock star & mailed him loads of marriage proposals. 

One time in a batting practice, Casey Stengel instructed him to do nothing but hit the ball the other way in batting practice. The Hall of Famer Duke Snider observed him & kept telling him to pull the ball without knowing Casey's instruction.  Ed shouted back at the Duke "you're not going so good yourself". The press ate it up & ran with the story Rookie yells back at Snider. Kranepool tried to explain but the media didn't listen. He apologized to Snider & all was well.

At first, he was kept out of a first base by the popular "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry. When manager Casey Stengel was asked why Kranepool was on the bench he replied, “he’s only 17 but he runs like he’s 30”.

1963: At the start of the season, Kranepool became the Mets' full time first baseman, as Throneberry got demoted.

Youngest Met to Hit a HR: On April 19th, Eddie hit his first career HR, coming off Bob Shaw of the Milwaukee Braves. At age 18 he is the youngest Met to ever hit a HR. 

In 12 games in April, he had a seven-game hit streak, with four multi-hit games & was batting .300 by the end of the month, for a good start. 

Walk Off Hit: On May 8th, he collected his first walk off hit with a double off the Phillies Jack Baldschun scoring Hot Rod Kanehl.

He feel into a slump & by the end of June he was batting just .190 getting sent back down to the minors.

Tim Harkness took over the Mets first base job. At AAA Buffalo, Eddie hit .310 in 53 games & was brought back up in September. He hit well enough to finish the season batting .209 with 2 HRs 12 doubles & 14 RBIs.

1964: In Spring Training '64, Eddie pulled a hamstring causing Casey Stengel to remark “What 19-year-old kid pulls a hamstring?” 

He was back in the minors, where in 15 games he hit above .350 proving he was ready to get back to the majors. He was called back up the Mets team returning on May 31st. That day he played in both ends of a double header loss to the San Francisco Giants in the brand-new Shea Stadium.

The second game of that double header was a classic, as it went 23 innings ending at 11:20 PM. Ed had three hits with an RBI triple off Bobby Bolin.  

Quotes- Ed Kranepool: "I wish we could have played another forty minutes. That way, I could always say I played in a game that started in May and ended in June."

In June he had a thirteen-game hit streak which kick started his season. On June 5th, he hit a three run HR off the Dodgers Joe Moeller, in an 8-0 Galen Cisco shutout over L.A. At the end of that streak, he also drove in runs in four straight games. On August 14th he hit two HRs in a Mets loss to the Phillies at Philadelphia. 

Walk Off Hit: On August 23rd, the Mets swept a double header from the Chicago Cubs. In the bottom of the 10th inning of the first game, Cubs pitcher Lee Gregory intentionally walked two batters loading the bases to pitch to Kranepool. He delivered an RBI bloop single to left field bringing in George Altman with the walk off run bringing the Shea crowd to their feet with joy.

On August 26th he drove in two runs at Cincinnati with an RBI single & sac fly helping the Mets to a 3-1 win. In his next game, he had three hits at Wrigley Field in Chicago with a two run HR off Bob Buhl, driving in three runs in a wild 12-10 Mets win over the Cubs. 

On September 4th, with the Mets behind to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 5-2 in the 8th inning they began a comeback rally. Kranepool's single drove in the first run of the inning, he then scored on costly error in left field with the games tying run. The Mets went on to beat the Dodgers 6-5

On September 23rd, Eddie doubled off former Met Roger Craig in the home 7th inning ruining the shutout bid. He then scored what was the winning run on a Ron Hunt double as New York beat the soon to be World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Eddie did better that season, raising his average to .257, with a .310 on base %, hitting 10 HRs with 19 doubles & 45 RBIs.

1965: This year was to be his first full season. It was that year he changed his uniform number to his familiar #7. Also, that year the Mets acquired veteran future Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn, who wanted to wear his old Braves uniform number 21. 

Kranepool began the year with a great start; he hit safely in his first twelve games & drove in 11 runs on the month.

On April 15th, he drove in three runs with a HR, a double 7 RBI single in a 5-4 Mets win over the Astros, highlighted by Bobby Klaus' walk off hit. On April 24th, he hit two HRs off the Giants Jack Sanford helping his team in the 7-6 win in San Francisco. At the end of April, he was leading the league in batting .418. 

Walk Off Hit: On May 9th in the second game of a double header with the Milwaukee Braves, the Mets staged a three-run comeback in the 7th inning. Kranepool tied up that game walking with the bases loaded. In the bottom of the 9th, he singled off Bobby Tiefenauer bringing home the game winning walk off run scoring Charley Smith.

On May 24th he helped Warren Spahn notch another career victory, as he tripled & homered, driving in three runs in a 6-2 Mets win over the Phillies. 

Eddie would have two more three RBI days in the month of June. 

1965 All Star: At the All Star break he was bating .287 with 7 HRs & 36 RBIs getting named to the NL All-Star Team. He was the Mets sole representative but did not play in the 6-5 NL win at Minnesota.

In the second half of the season, he fell into a slump hitting just three HRs with 13 more RBIs & would eventually share time at first with Jim Hickman. 

In 1965 Eddie played in 153 games leading the team in batting (.253) as he hit a career high 24 doubles, with 10 HRs 55 RBIs & 8 sacrifice flies (4th in the NL). At first base he was in the league’s top five in fielding %, assists & put outs. 

Trivia: An underrated first baseman, Kranepool was among the league leaders in these categories for most of the mid-sixties.

1966: Mets manager Wes Westrum had promised Kranepool the starting first baseman’s job. But as usual someone new came along. The Mets acquired the slugging Dick Stuart who could hit HRs, but his defense was so bad he was known as Dr. Strange Glove. Stuart didn't last long, after 31 games batting .218 with 4 HRs he was gone by June. 

In the second game of the season, Kranepool hit a 1st inning two run HR off the Braves Hank Fischer at Shea Stadium, leading the Mets to a 3-1 victory over the Braves. The Braves had just relocated to Atlanta from Milwaukee that season.

On April 23rd, Kranepool hit a pair of HRs driving in all four Mets runs in a 5-4 loss to the Braves in their new ballpark. But Eddie struggled at the plate as did Stuart & was hitting just .199 in mid-June. 

In late June, he had a good series on a road trip to Chicago where he drove in two runs with a two run HR off Bill Hands in a 9-3 win. The next day he drove in three more runs in the second game of a double header split with the Cubs.

He returned to the Shea Stadium homestand to drive in runs in three straight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That July he batted .317,drove in 15 runs, collecting 33 hits with 12 extra base hits. In August he batted .281 having had raised his average fifty points up to .250 since mid-June.

He closed out the 1966 season with a two run HR in the last game of the season, as the Mets finished 66-95 in ninth place. On the season he led the club in HRs (16) games played (146) & tied Cleon Jones for second place in RBIs (57). He batted .254 with a .316 on base % & 15 doubles. At first base he posted a .992 fielding %.

Businessman: Back in the off seasons of 1964 & 1965 Kranepool took courses at the Institute of Finance. He then went out to get a stockbroker’s license on his 21st birthday. 

He worked for the brokerage firm of Brand, Grumet & Seigel building up a clientele numbering of 160 accounts by 1967. Kranepool would give players advice on stocks & walk around the locker room with the Wall Street Journal. On road trips he would even take paperwork from the office to work on.

There, Eddie met a secretary named Carole Henson & the two got married. 

1967: By 1967Kranepool was maturing although he was just 23 years old. He & his first wife Carole moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, bought a new home & planned to start a family. Their son would be born in 1969.

He had a good start to the 1967 season batting .380 in mid-May with 3 HRs & 11 RBIs in his first 19 games. 

On May 2nd at Shea Stadium, he hit a solo game tying HR off the Giants Gaylord Perry. The game went to extras, in the top of the 12th Willie Mays put the Giants ahead 2-1. In the bottom of the inning Kranepool tripled off Lindy McDaniel to tie the game, the Mets won it 3-2 on a John Sullivan base hit.

He then had a twelve-game hit streak with 18 hits & five multi- hit games.  Eddie was hitting well enough to stay over .300 into mid-July. The Mets were still in last place at 32-49 17.5 games back.

On July 3rd, in another big game against the San Francisco Giants on the West Coast, Kranepool was the hitting star. He blasted a three run HR off Bobby Bolin helping rookie Tom Seaver to an exciting 5-3 victory, as the Mets took two of three in the series. 

That month he hit five HRs & drove in 18 runs having a productive month.

In mid-August he went on a hot streak driving in three runs in an 11-9 win over the Pirates. He drove in two more runs the next game as well. He would collect nine hits with six RBIs over a four-game span that week.

On the season he kept his stats in the same ballpark, batting .269 with 10 HRs 17 doubles and 54
RBIs (second on the club to Tommy Davis). He posted his best on base % up to that point of his career at .321%. For the third straight season he led the club in intentional walks with a career high 15.

At first base he helped turn over 100 double plays for the third straight season.

That year the Mets finished tenth 61-101, as Manager Wes Westrum resigned toward the end of the season & Salty Parker took over in the final two weeks. Changes were coming to the organization.

1968: The following year things began to change, as Gil Hodges took over as manager. Kranepool struggled in the first two months, he was hitting just .207 & did not drive in a run until May 30th. He didn't hit his first HR until July 14th, his 61st game of the year. 

On July 11th, he drove in the only run of 1-0 win over the Cubs, with a 4th inning single off Ferguson Jenkins. On July 18th he drove in one of three Mets runs in a 3-1 win over the Pirates. On July 23rd in Atlanta, he hit his second HR of the year, a solo shot off the Braves Pat Jarvis in a 2-1 Mets win for Tom Seaver.

Kranepool got his average up to .265 by August but tailed off to drop to .231. 

Offensively for Eddie, 1968 was a bad year as he only hit .231 with three HRs 13 doubles 20 RBIs posting a .290 on base % in 127 games. Defensively he posted his best fielding % to date (.994) & made only six errors in 113 games at first base.

Trivia: The Mets were a better team in 1969 & Eddie was asked if the Mets had a chance of winning the World Series before the season began. 

Quotes- Ed Kranepool:  "The Mets have as much of a chance to win the World Series as Man has of landing on the Moon." Both things did happen in that Miracle Season of 1969.

1969 Mets Championship Season:
Kranepool began the 1969 season at first base and drove in two runs in the second game of the season, helping in a 9-5 win over the expansion Montreal Expos. 

Over a five-game span he drove in seven runs in the first road trip of the season. He had a good month of April, as he drove in 15 runs and was batting .310 at the end of the month. 

Multi HR Game: On April 29th at Jarry Park in Montreal, he hit two solo HRs off Mudcat Grant driving in both runs in a combined 2-0 shut out by Jerry Koosman & Nolan Ryan over the Expos.

Another Multi HR Game: On June 3rd, in the first game of a double header with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. Kranepool had another multi-HR game, hit two HRs off Alan Foster. Eddies three RBIs led the Mets & Tom Seaver to a 5-3 win.

He started the month driving in runs in five of six games as the Mets were surprising everyone at 29-24 in second place. On June 15th, the Mets acquired a much-needed slugger in Donn Clendenon in a trade with the Montreal Expos. From this point on, Clendenon & Kranepool would share time at first base in Gil Hodges platoon system.

Walk Off Hit: On July 8th, in a matinee battle at Shea Stadium with the first place Chicago Cubs, the Mets came to bat in the 9th inning down 3-1. Ken Boswell & Donn Clendenon both doubled, Cleon Jones then doubled bringing in both runners to tie the game. Kranepool then came to bat, singling to left centerfield off Ferguson Jenkins bringing in Jones with the walk off game winning run. The Shea crowd went crazy as the Mets got closer to first place.

Kranepool had a good July, driving in twelve runs in the 18 games he played in that month

Four RBI Game: On July 30th after driving in a run in the first game of a double header loss to the Astros at Shea Stadium, he had a big second game. Kranepool hit his 9th HR of the year, a three-run shot off Larry Dierker in the 8th inning.

On September 18th in a pitcher’s duel between Tom Seaver & the Expos Bill Stoneman,
Kranepool singled in the 1st inning to score Tommie Agee with the Mets first run. He then homered in the 8th inning giving New York the 2-0 win. 

On September 23rd he collected two hits in the Mets 3-2 win over the Cardinals. Bud Harrelson's walk off single won the game bringing the Mets magic number down to one game. The Mets clinched the next night but Ed wasn't in the game.

In the final eight games of the regular season, Kranepool played in to end the 1969 season, the Mets won seven of them.

On the season he hit .238 with 11 HRs, two triples, nine doubles 49 RBIs, a .307 on base % & a .675 OPS. In 106 games at first base, he posted a .993 fielding % (5th in the league) making just six errors in 879 chances.

1969 Post Season-NLCS: Kranepool played all three games of the 1969 NLCS vs. the Atlanta Braves due to the pitching matchups. 

In Game #1 he singled off Phil Niekro in the 4th inning, then scored on Bud Harrelson's two run triple, putting the Mets ahead 4-3 in the eventual 9-5 victory.

In the 1st inning of Game #2, Kranepool singled off Ron Reed driving in the first run of the Mets 11-6 victory. He went 1-4 with a walk in the game.

In the clinching sweep of Game #3, he went 1-4 with a 4th inning double. Overall, in the NLCS he batted .250 (3-12) driving in one run, scoring two runs & drawing a walk.

1969 World Series:
In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, he only played in Game #3, getting the start in the first World Series game ever played at Shea Stadium.

In the 8th inning, he had his shining moment, hitting a solo HR off the Orioles Dave Leonhard. Ed went 1-4 in the 5-0 Mets win.

After the World Series he enjoyed success after all his year playing on bad ball clubs. He got to go on the Ed Sullivan Show with the team & ride down Broadway in the ticker tape parade. 

Trivia- The Dugout Restaurant: After the season ended, he & teammate Ron Swoboda opened a bar/restaurant called The Dugout in Amityville, Long Island.


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