The 81-year-old Hall of Fame slugger has been a Mets broadcaster
since 1962 and is the author of Baseball Forever.
SI: You hit 369 homers in your 10-year career. Have you been
underrated as a power hitter?
Kiner: No question. I think the reason I didn't get a lot of
credit is that I played before television, and the Pirates [for
whom Kiner played more than seven seasons] were really a bad ball
SI: What's one benefit of staying in broadcasting for more than
Kiner: Most of the people who would argue with what you're saying
SI: During your playing days you dated Janet Leigh and Elizabeth
Taylor (below). Today we'd call you "a player." Did they have a
name for athletes who dated movie stars back in your day?
Kiner: No, they didn't [laughs]. At that time few players got a
shot at dating the movie people. One of the reasons I was able to
was that Bing Crosby was one of the owners of the Pirates. But I
met Janet Leigh at Forbes Field when she was working on Angels in
the Outfield. She was standing at the batting cage, and I got to
know her by talking to her. So that was all on my own.
SI: You are critical of Branch Rickey in your book. In your
opinion, did Rickey bring Jackie Robinson to the majors in 1947
for altruistic or financial reasons?
Kiner: I personally think it was not altruistic. When he got
black players, he got them out of the Negro leagues for no cost.
He didn't reimburse the owners. The other thing was that when he
came to Pittsburgh [in 1950], he was in no hurry to get black
players on that team. We went several years before he got black
players on the Pirates. But that's just my opinion.
SI: Do any of today's power hitters ever ask for advice?
Kiner: The first person who ever sought me out to ask about my
approach to hitting home runs was Ted Williams. In 1948 we played
an exhibition game, and Ted's first move was to ask me what I was
thinking as a hitter. As a broadcaster only one player ever asked
me about hitting, and that was George Foster. He asked, "Do you
have any pictures of you when you were hitting?" I said yes and
got him one. He looked at it and handed it back, and that was
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