In my opinion, to be called an original Met should be an automatic ticket to immortality.To be a member of the ’69 Amazing Mets, a player should be looked upon with awe. When a player spends his entire 17 season career with the Mets, he should be revered for his intestinal fortitude as well as his durability. There has only one man who could lay claim to this honor. Yes that man is lucky 13 on this list – Ed Kranepool.
Edward Emil Kranepool was born in the Bronx , New York on November 8, 1944. As a teenager, Eddie attended James Monroe High School. He was on both the school’s baseball and basketball team. In 1962, Ed was signed with the Mets as a amateur free agent by then Mets’ scout, Bubber Jonnard. Eddie was just seventeen at the time.
Ed quickly ascended the Mets farm system that season. He hit a combined .301 at all three levels of the Mets minor league system. Ed would be called up that September. He made his Major League debut on September 22 of 1962n as a late inning replacement for then first baseman, Gil Hodges. In his only at bat of the game, Ed grounded out to second base. The very next day he would make his first career start,, at first base. Ed went 1-4, his first hit was a double.
In 1963, Eddie started the season in a first base platoon with fan favorite, “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry. In order to incorporate his bat into the line up, Casey Stengel also platooned him in right field with Duke Snider. One month later, Eddie would be the Mets everyday right fielder when Marv Throneberry was demoted to the minors and Left fielder, Tim Harkness was moved to first while Snider shifted to left field. But Ed struggled at the plate, and was soon demoted to the Mets triple A affiliate in Buffalo. He would be promoted as a September call-up. He played better upon his return, finishing the season with a batting average of .209 two homers and fourteen RBI’s.
In 1964, Ed started the season in right field, but by late May he would once again be demoted in order for the hot hitting outfielder, Joe Christopher could get more laying time. Ed would spend just two weeks in Buffalo before being recalled by the Mets, During his brief stay in AAA, Ed has batted .352 with three home runs. Once back with the Mets, Kranepool went on a thirteen game hitting streak. Ed finished the season with a batting average of .257 with ten home runs and 45 RBIs.
In 1965 Ed changed his number from 21 to 7 to accommodate the recently acquired player/ pitching coach ( and future Hall of Famer), Warren Spahn. That summer, Ed was the lone Mets representative to the All Star Game, but he did not get a chance to play in the game. Ed finished the season batting .253 with ten homers and fifty three RBI’s. He led the team with 133 hits and 24 doubles.
In 1966, Kranepool set a personal best with sixteen home runs along with fifty seven RBI’s while batting .254. This would be the first season that the Mets would lose less that 100 games and avoided finishing in last place.
Ed would not have a great regular season in 1969. He was platooned at first base with Donn Clendenon for most of the season, and he hit a anemic .231 with eleven homers while driving in forty nine runs.
But things were different in that ’69 post season. He would bat .250 in the Mets three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, garnering three hits while driving in a run.
In game three of the ’69 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Ed would get his only hit of the series, but what a hit it was – a solo shot in the Mets 5-0 win over the birds !
In mid 1970, Kranepool was once again was struggling aat the plate, batting just .118. He would be demoted yet again to the Mets AAA affiliate. During the time of his demotion, Krane considered retiring. Ed decided to soldier on and accept his demotion, and once again dominated AAA, batting .310 in 47 games with the Tidewater Tides. By the middle of August, Eddie had made it back to the big leagues, but he saw very little playing time. Ed would only play in 43 games that season , batting .170 in 47 at bats.
In 1971, Eddie would be a man on a mission. He vowed that he would never be demoted again and played like his life depended on it. He finished the season with a .280 batting average with fourteen homers and fifty eight RBI’s. He led the National League with a .998 fielding percentage.
In 1973, Kranepool would find himself backing up first baseman, John Milner. Ed did see his share of playing time, appearing in 100 games and batting .239 for the season in limited duty.
It was a hard season, but the Mets fought their way into the post season by winning the NL East crown. The Mets faced the dreaded Cincinnati Reds in the 1973 NLCS. Eddie would play in one game during the series, but he made the most of it in game five by driving in the first two runs of the game. It would be the game that saw the Mets clinch their World Series berth. Ed would appear in four games during the ’73 World Series. He was used as a pinch hitter, but he never got on base. The Mets ended up losing the World Series in seven agonizing games.
By 1975, Eddie was used mainly as a reserve infielder/outfielder and expert pinch hitter. He batted over .300 in both 1974 and 1975.
Eddie was the only Met that was invited to attend the funeral of Mets original owner, Joan Payson in October of ’75. Ed had a bond with Mrs Payson since he was there from the first season.
It is common knowledge that upon her passing, her husband, Charles Payson would inherit the team. Charles was not a big fan of baseball in general, and it was widely known that he was a Boston Red Sox fan. He gave the team to his daughter, Lorinda ( a no-nothing of the highest order when it came to baseball decisions), and she delegated power to club chairman, and President – M. Donald Grant , who subsequently would be the driving force behind the teams downfall.
The Mets would win the second most games in their franchise history with 86 wins that season, and Ed Kranepool would once again regain his position as the team’s starting first baseman. He hit .292 with ten home runs and 49 RBIs for the season.
In 1977, with the emergence of Lee Mazzilli , Kranepool would find himself once again utilized as a reserve player on the Mets bench. Ed was relegated to pinch hitting for much of the season. In 1978, after the trade of Jerry Koosman to the Minnesota Twins, Ed would be the lone player to remain from the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Eddie would retire from baseball after the 1979 season. He was 34 years old at the time – a age where most players today would consider to still be in the prime of their careers.
Ed is still the Mets all time leader in at bats with: 5436, hits with 1418, and and total bases with 2047. He has also set the Mets record with most games played as a Met with 1853. Kranepool had a career fielding percentage at first base of .994 and .975 as an outfielder.
Ed is still highly regarded among Mets fans today. He is the only person to play his entire seventeen year career with the Mets, and yes he might not have been a superstar, he was still there through all the good times as well as the bad times during his tenure.
After “Steady Eddie” retired from the game of baseball in 1980 , he put together a consortium of investors to purchase the Mets from then owner, Lorinda DeRoulet . But they were outbid a group headed by publishing magnet, Nelson Doubleday and his minority investor, Fred Wilpon. Ed would work as both a stockbroker and later on as a restaurateur. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hallof Fame in 1990. Ed was on hand for both the closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium in September of ’08 as well as the 40th anniversary of the ’69 Miracle Mets in 2009. It has been recently reported that he once again is part of a group of investors, headed by Martin Luther King III and Donn Clendenon Jr ( son of the ’69 Mets MVP) that are interested in buying the Mets.
Tomorrow we will profile at number 12 one of the best Mets pitchers of the late ’90′s and early ’00′s.
And with that said… HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
One of the best first basemen to ever play the game, Eddie Murray is 55 (1956) . Yes he had a bad attitude. Yes he hated dealing with the media. Yes he was a member of the ” Worst Team Money Could Buy !” But in his two seasons in a Mets uniform, Eddie batted a respectable .274with 43 homers ( including his 500th) and 193 RBI’s. He was far from being a problem on the field with the Mets from ”92-’93.
The youngest member of the ” Flying Molina Brothers” – catcher, Gustavo Molina is 29 (1982) . He played briefly with the Mets in ’08. Us fans wish he was more like his brother Bengie instead of actor Albert.
The New York Mets traded pitcher, George Stone to the Texas Rangers for pitcher, Bill Hands on February 24, 1976. Stone would have a few decent seasons with the Rangers, while Hands never saw a day of action in a Mets uniform.
The New York Mets signed free agent catcher, Rod Barajas of the Toronto Blue Jays on February 24, 2010. The signing of Barajas paid dividends in the early part of last season. He belted 10 homers in the first two months of the season before he came down to Earth. He was essentially sold to the Los Angeles Dodgers in late August.
And while you hope that Carmello Anthony can be the savior of the Knicks, just remember that there are just 36 more Jerry Koosman days untilthe Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami. and just 43 days to go until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn is set to attend the Opening Day Ceremonies in Miami. It is rumored that he will be wearing a Carmen Miranda inspired outfit !!!