Sunday, March 05, 2017

N.Y. Mets: A Bronx to Flushing Tale

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

The night Ed Kranepool won my heart.


NEW YORK METS: Get Well, Ed Kranepool.

As many of you may already know, Mets legend Ed Kranepool is seeking a kidney donor.

Speaking by phone from his Manhasset, Long Island, hospital room to Steve Marcus of Newsday, Ed Kranepool said he recently underwent surgery to have his left big toe amputated due to an infection stemming from diabetes, and that he did not make the Mets aware of his hospitalization.  He said he presently has two failing kidneys which are only operating at twenty percent, and is therefore seeking a transplant.

"I'm close to having to go to dialysis, but we're trying to avoid that.  That's not a way of life.  So I want to go for a kidney."

In the absence of a donor, the reported wait time on the transplant list is about five years.

I read the following rather emotive article over the weekend, about one man's heartening offer to help.

The feature opinion in Saturday's New York Daily News Voice of the People belonged to a gentleman named Dylan from Connecticut.  If deemed suitable, Dylan says he would gladly enter into donation procedures for Kranepool.

Dylan claims personal experience.

"I have a close cousin going through the same thing.  My twin brother is a match, thank God, so I feel compelled to pay that good fortune forward."
"Especially, if it helps a New York Met!"

In order to help cover mounting medical expenses, Ed Kranepool placed his 1969 World Series ring up for auction, to which Dylan adds,

"... it breaks my heart to picture his '69 ring at auction."

I just thought Dylan from Connecticut's gesture should not go under-spoken.

Ed Kranepool is still a local hero to many, myself included.

There was an immediate and lasting connection between Steady Eddie and Mets fans because he was just like the rest of us.  A Bronx native, he grew up in the shadows of Yankee Stadium playing stick ball in the streets just as any other generation of New York City kid would.  And before becoming a Flushing favorite, he would become a James Monroe High School legend first.

Ed Kranepool then appeared in three games for the original 1962 New York Mets as a 17-year old.

I came around years later.  And on June 18, 1976, Ed Kranepool forever earned a place in this 9-year old's heart.

I remember it being a gorgeous Friday evening, and the Mets were hosting the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium.  My pop and I were two of the 30,888 fans in attendance this evening.  We sat in the mezzanine level right behind first base ... a marvelous view.

Tom Seaver was on the mound, and was opposed by San Francisco's Rob Dressler.

John Milner opened the scoring in the bottom of the 4th with a solo home run.  However, Giants first baseman Darrell Evans likewise connected off Seaver in the top of the 5th with a lead-off home run.

The Giants then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 6th inning on second baseman Darrel Thomas' RBI triple.

John Milner drew a walk leading off the bottom half of the frame, but traded places with Wayne Garrett after the Mets third baseman bounced into a fielder's choice.  Then up stepped Ed Kranepool. Playing first base and batting clean up this evening, Steady Eddie connected on a majestic home run to right off Dressler.

My mezzanine seats allowed me to perfectly track the flight of this high arching baseball hit deep into the Flushing night.  What a great feeling!  As far as I'm concerned, the ball has yet to land.

Kranepool's home run gave the Mets a 3-2 lead Tom Seaver would not relinquish.  The Franchise went on to record a complete game victory, allowing two earned runs on just two hits, with six strikeouts.

The game remains etched in my memory as if played yesterday.

Till this day, no one has played more games in a Mets uniform than "Steady" Eddie Kranepool.  And right up until a fellow named David Wright came along, Eddie was the club's all-time leader in at-bats and hits.

He retired in 1979 after spending 18 years wearing the orange and blue.

By this stage in his life, Ed Kranepool had already been long immersed in the world of finance.   According to SABR, he earned his stockbroker licence at age 21, and by 1967 was managing a clientele base exceeding 100 accounts.

In 1979, Kranepool learned from Charles Shipman Payson - who inherited the club from his wife Joan Whitney Payson upon her passing in 1975 - that the Mets might soon be put up for sale.  By September, Kranepool assembled a partnership group and made a formal presentation to team president Linda De Roulet, daughter of Joan and Charles Payson.

SABR quotes Kranepool saying,

"And then she put together her friends, her social group, and they (Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon) bought the ball club."

What might have been.

For better or worse, Mets history would certainly have played out differently.

Ed Kranepool has nonetheless always remained a beloved member of the greater New York City/Tri-State metropolitan area, and we're hoping all goes well for him and his family during this time of difficulty.

I had the honor of meeting him for the first time several years ago at a Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island.

Rock Steady!

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