Mets Should Assist 1969 World Series Hero Ed Kranepool as Ring Goes Up for Auction
While the New York Mets do not have as many World Series titles as their crosstown counterpart New York Yankees, the two World Series they do have to hold a special place in New York sports history.
The 1969 and 1986 Mets are beloved among the team’s fan base and their players have been heroes to fans; links to the rare times that the Mets were on top of the sports world.
Word spread early Friday morning that Ed Kranepool, one of the leaders of the historic 1969 World Series team, is battling a kidney ailment and is in need of a transplant. Attached to that story was also the news that the 72-year-old Kranepool will be auctioning off his 1969 World Series ring through Goldin Auctions at a live auction at New York’s NYY Steakhouse on May 20 to assist with medical bills.
This is where the Mets franchise and owner Fred Wilpon needs to step in. The ring, which is estimated by Goldin to garner between $50,000-$100,000 at the event, should be pursued at or before the auction by the franchise and displayed at the team’s Hall of Fame at Citi Field. It’s the one outcome that not only will help the Kranepool family with the finances they need but also allow the ring to remain in a place where it belongs.
It is entirely possible that an independent winner could approach the Mets about donating the piece to their museum, but the Wilpons should not leave that up to chance.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Kranepool told reporter Christian Red, “We’re going to see from here where we’re going to go. I need a kidney. The perfect way to make it work and get the longevity out of it is to get the perfect match. It’s a procedure that two people have to agree on doing. I’ve already gone in for my testing. But you have to be ready to move (if a donor is found) and that could be overnight.”
The hope is that Kranepool finds the match that he needs and continues on to rehabilitate back to full health. In the same interview, Kranepool mentioned that he had been in good health, but felt short of breath on a boat trip, which led to the discovery of his kidney failure.
Kranepool, who played every one of the 1,853 games of his 18-year Major League career for the Mets, is one of the most revered players in franchise history. He played a large role in the Mets summer surge in which the Mets bolted up the standings in 1969, ultimately passing the Cubs to win an unlikely National League East title.
In Game 1 of the NLCS, Kranepool singled with two outs and nobody on base to start a 4th inning rally which saw the Mets erase a 3-2 deficit to the favored Atlanta Braves. The Mets never relinquished that lead as they topped Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and the Braves in Game 1 on their way to a series sweep.
In Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, Kranepool homered to give the Mets a 5-0 lead as the team took a commanding lead in the series on the way to their stunning upset of the Baltimore Orioles.
Kranepool’s place in Mets history is undeniable. He was born in the Bronx and attended James Monroe High School. Kranepool made his debut for the Mets as a 17-year-old in 1962 when he came on as a defensive replacement for Gil Hodges. His final at-bat came 17 years later when he hit a pinch-hit double off Bob Forsch on the last day of the season and he was removed for pinch-runner Gil Flores.
Kranepool is the one Met who began with the infamous 1962 team, rode the wave through their 1969 and 1973 World Series teams and then finished off with the downtrodden Mets of the late 1970s in the post-Tom Seaver era. He is a player who deserves to have perhaps his most valued Mets possession remain a part of the franchise if selling it will allow him the peace of mind to battle his illness without the added stress of medical financial burdens.
This is a great opportunity for the Wilpon family to do something that will not only assist Kranepool but also strike a positive tone with a fan base in a relationship that could use some goodwill. Nobody should be able to tell someone how they should spend their money, but a gesture like this seems like it would help Kranepool immensely and allow fans to enjoy seeing this great piece of memorabilia when visiting the team’s Hall of Fame and museum.
Kranepool was the fourth member of the 1969 Mets to be inducted into their team Hall of Fame in 1990 and his 1969 World Series glove is featured prominently in the museum. Adding his ring to the collection would add tremendously to their collection.
Last year, the Mets received a load of negative press when Mike Piazza‘s jersey that he wore when he hit his famous home run on September 20, 2001, in the teams’ first game back after the 9/11 terrorist attacks hit the auction blocks. It turned out that the Mets had previously sold the jersey and the new owners were putting it up for auction. Piazza himself wasn’t happy with the decision and fans and media were rightly horrified at the team monetizing something that sacred. A happy medium was reached when the buyers agreed to display the jersey on a rotating basis between Citi Field, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the 9/11 Museum in Manhattan.
While Kranepool’s ring may not be as sacred an artifact as Piazza’s 9/11 jersey, it is still a significant piece of memorabilia from one of the team’s two World Series wins.
The Piazza jersey scandal aside, the Mets have made strides in recent years as they have emerged from the ashes of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Their on-field product has improved drastically and the fan base has been energized by young stars and increased payroll. The atmosphere around the team this spring training could not be more positive.
A gesture such as the Wilpons purchasing Kranepool’s ring and displaying it in the team’s museum would not only give Kranepool the help he needs, it would also honor him the way he deserves.