Former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger and Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner died on Thursday at the age of 91.
Though Kiner isn’t remembered as one of the greats of the game in the same context as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio, he was still a fantastic player whose career was cut short by a back injury.
Kiner entered the league in 1946 and led or tied for the league lead in home runs seven straight seasons. He’s the only player to accomplish that feat. His career-high amount was 54 homers clubbed in 1949, when he posted a career-high 1.089 OPS. Kiner led the league in runs and RBIs once, and OPS, walks and slugging percentage three times. His career was cut short in 1955 by a back injury, but he still made the Hall of Fame in 1975, 20 years after he retired.
Kiner later said that he would have continued his career if he had played in later decades because the medical advancements would have helped his back problems. He credited fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate Hank Greenberg with helping his career by recommending he move up to the plate so that teams could not pitch him inside.
The Pirates, for whom Kiner starred, tweeted a photo of Kiner’s Hall of Fame plaque: