My memories of Nelson, Murphy and Kiner.
TORRINGTON: Growing up in New York and being a New York Mets baseball fan, I looked forward to listening the radio and heard three voices calling the game that soon became like family to me.
Back in the mid-70s there was no SNY or ESPN or baseball on every other channel, like there is today.
There was a “Game of the Week” on NBC but the odds of finding the ‘other’ New York team, the one without pinstripes, were not real good.
We relied on radio and the golden voices of three men, Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner.
Kiner joined his radio mates behind the pearly gates at the ripe young age of 91 on Thursday.
His major league career earned him a spot in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975 with a .279 batting average, 369 home runs and 1,105 runs batted in.
Throw in six All-Star appearances and seven home run crowns and you can see why the star, born in Santa Rita, New Mexico was an outstanding ball player.
Listening to the trio call the games, and let’s face it, most were losses during the tough 70s, always made me feel like I was at the park.
When I went to a game, the pre-game and post-game were on the tuner in whatever I was driving at the time.
I wanted a good radio not just for tunes in those days but to make sure I could get the crew on the A.M. dial.
Three distinct styles marked the broadcast by Murphy, Nelson and Kiner.
Murphy brought a ‘word picture’ quality to the airwaves, Nelson was as bright as his legendary jackets that forced sunglasses on even when watching him on the tube.
Kiner brought the inside. He was the player, not that far removed from the game and he still looked like he could hit the cover off the ball in those days.
The credibility was established early with Kiner in the fans eyes and ears, when he spoke of what it took to hit the likes of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson, you took notice.
As much as we enjoyed listening to or watching the games on TV, the real treat came minutes after the game ended.
We knew it was time for Kiner’s Korner, a program created in 1964, the first year that Shea Stadium opened.
It would feature the stars of the game we just saw on WOR-TV or even celebrities who attended the game.
His first show had two all-stars from Hollywood, comedian Buddy Hackett and Phil Foster, he of Laverne and Shirley.
It’s where we met Tom Seaver and Gerry Koosman, Eddie Kranepool and Gerry Grote.
Opposition stars would also appear, Willie Mays or Willie McCovey came on when the Giants came back from the West Coast.
Who didn’t want to see Lou Brock, Maury Wills or the late great Roberto Clemente after they finished beating up on the sometimes hapless Metropolitans?
Getting the insight from a broadcaster who could speak to what was going on during a game from first-hand knowledge was priceless.
Kiner outlasted his teammates in the booth. We lost Murphy at 80, Nelson at 76.
They are back together again in the heavens, a team that is thought to be one of the best in broadcast history.
As I spent a great deal of time between New York and Connecticut during the 70s and early 80s, listening to those gentlemen make me feel like I was at the park every time I tuned in fell under the category of priceless to me.
I thank them for being a very important part of my life during those years.
While I may not paint the word picture on the radio, I have the privilege of doing it right here through my writing.
Thanks boys, it was a blast.