Blaber’s Blabberings: Days the Future Forgot; Ralph Kiner, the Rangers and WOR-TV

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KinerEL BARIO, BRONX - Armageddon tired of this Snow! Weather be damned -  Deacon Blaber and my sports pulpit is up ready for the masses on this 2nd Saturday of the second month in the  two thousandth and fourteenth year of our Lord Yim, who for uneducated is Jim Clancy, one of our faithful correspondents and mates. Anyway…

This week the sports world lost a true legend in Ralph Kiner. His loss took me back to my childhood and the days when I fell in love with American sports.  A key vehicle on that journey was WOR-TV in Secaucus, NJ, as I became a NY Rangers fan. Becoming a basketball fan took a painful turn also. Let’s take a stroll down those alleys of my mind that I have tried hide away.

Kiner’s Korner: When I was growing up we moved 3  times in 5 years (4 if you count where we stayed for a month until we got an apartment). It was hectic and though it wasn’t the worst, it is hard to make friends that way. The only sport my family knew was soccer, so we could watch the Mexican league on the Spanish channels. Therefore, my first “American” team was Cruz Azul,  “viva cement mixers.”  I knew to make friends I would have to get into American sports. I had to understand the national pastime. This was a time when there was no cable in the Bronx. To watch sports you had to watch regular TV. We had Mets games on WOR-TV – aka Channel 9 and I watched the Mets win in 1986 - which was part of my journey – but it was teams of ’87 and ’88 that taught me about baseball.

And the man that I grew to trust in that time was Ralph Kiner. He knew the game but he also made it easy to understand. I grew in my sports nerdism under Uncle Ralph. He had his gaffes but it just made him more lovable. It was easy; with every game, he made you believe. He was always optimistic. You never wanted to turn of the TV. I started watching him on a black and white TV with pliers as the channel changer. When we got the colored TV with the remote, it was great to see Ralph in his funny suits. Channel 9 would turn to Kiner’s Korner after games or during rain delays.

Excuse me, it got misty in here as I was typing.

I never understood the reverence people had for Vince Scully or other commentators. They were never my guys so, whatever. Besides, it was just a TV commentator – right? Wrong.  When Ralph exited the booth, then you knew what inferior game-calling was. Now I understand. You hear me Ron Darling! The loss of Ralph was a reminder of how far away my childhood was and how it is slowly fading from memory. Thank you uncle Ralph, you will always be remembered.

The Beezer

The Beezer

Rangers: WOR-TV was also responsible for making me the only black kid in the hood that liked hockey. I didn’t plan on being a hockey fan but it was so easy. As a soccer fan, hockey is the easiest sport to get. It is still pass, shoot, score. Smaller field, using sticks and a flat ball – but it is easy to grasp. It was in those days that I became a Rangers fans. I remember my brother and me being fans of Tony Granato… My Bro was a huge Mike Gardner fan… I leaned toward the defending pair of Brian Leetch and James Patrick. I was shocked when Mike Keenan traded Patrick to Buffalo in ’94. I remember being such a huge John Vanbiesbrouck fan, I wasn’t sure that that new kid Mike Richter was ready to replace him. Imagine that!

Kenny Walker

Kenny Walker

Knicks: I could get into becoming a Jets fan but the morphing into a Knicks fan is more interesting. I became a fan of the Knickerbockers because I was a NYC kid and they had Kenny “Sky” WalkerSlam Dunk champion, least we forget. I knew the Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordon but I couldn’t be a lame so and so and support another city – I had to support my city. Plus Patrick Ewing, Mark Jackson, Trent Tucker and the Sky Walker were gonna surprise everyone. Unfortunately, they never did and it was not like that team was as bad as… the Knicks now. It was just the Eastern Conference was so deep then, they had nowhere to go. Bird in Boston, Jordon in Chicago, Dominique in Atlanta, The Bad Boys in Detriot, Mark Price and Craig Ehlo in Cleveland, it was a fight like the NBA West is now.

Anyway, enough of my childhood trauma for one day. Thank you for taking this stroll down memory lane with me. If you are in NYC, we recommend you go to the New York Rugby Club Chili Cook-off at O’Brien’s Bar. it goes from 3-7p.

That is it for now, feel free to comment below and come back tomorrow for the one and only, Cheesy Bruin.

P.s… If you want to read more of my ramblings you can find them on RugbyWrapUp.com and our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp and @JunoirBlaber, respectively

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About the Author ()

Junoir Blaber is from Ghana but was transplanted to the Bronx as a young lion chaser. Blaber is the Rain Man of "Meet The Matts" and is a featured contributor on MTM global partner, Rugby Wrap Up. The name "Junoir" is not what the MTM Big Wigs thought - a cool African name. Instead, he typed "Junoir" instead of "Junior" on his facebook page to make him harder to find, at over 700 friends, he needs to try harder. But proving that two wrongs indeed do make a right, he has embraced his new persona - [June-noire]. Manute Bol is his uncle and his teams are the Mets, Jets, Knicks & NY Rangers... And Manchester United. He knows soccer. Yuck.
  • Finns

    Yeah Loved Kiner’s Korner when the Mets won but hated it when they lost. You know Ralph Kiner hit the most HRs for his 9 year career.

    • Junoir Blaber

      Never knew that. I knew he had one of the fastest bats ever.

      • SAF

        That’s not how Ava Gardner tells it!

    • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

      Even players like Dave Kingman and Eddie Murray – guys that hated the media – smiled for Ralph.

      • Finns

        Hmmph

  • AngryWard

    To me, this piece is really about WOR Channel 9. I think my brother, who is a Mets fanatic, was a WOR fan before he became a Mets fan. Junoir, did you ever watch The Million Dollar Movie or Benny Hill on Channel 9? The best. As was the News at Noon with Tom Dunn, Sara Lee Kessler, Reg Wells, and Lloyd Lindsay Young with weather.

    • Junoir Blaber

      Benny Hill was gold as young pervert. I remember the million dollar movie. Reg Wells, I haven’t heard that in ages. Remember the Richard Bey show?

    • MartyStein9er

      Chiller…. Pix, Pix, Pix!!!

      • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

        Pix is Channel 11, Martin!

        • Junoir Blaber

          PIX was the Yankees and that Channel was dead to me.

          • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

            We did tune into PIX just to hear The Scooter banter with Bill White and Messer. “Alright, White… you huckleberry!”

  • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

    Junoir…. This was easily our favorite of your impressive cache. You got us rife with nostalgic goosebumps – even while fixing your odd dangling participle… You were lucky to have learned the game from the likes of Uncle Ralph. He is/was one of a kind… P.s… Short Matt used to get into nightclubs as James Patrick – calling advance to put him and his rugby boys on lists at clubs and fancy bars.

    • Junoir Blaber

      Easiest article I have written in ages.

  • Cheesybruin

    I used to watch the Spanish channels for what broadcast tv lacked…fine voluptuous women with lotsa curves. Iris Chacon…Chaconisimo!
    Junoir, my brother from a hockey-lovin’ ‘nuthah mothah! Mike Gartner, I believe, is top 5 on the all-time goals list. Mark Jackson=a flat out winner. See Angry Ward’s Golden State Warriors.

    • SAF

      I think Hot Rod Strickland would have taken those Knicks further than Mark Jackson,but because Jackson was Patrick’s boy, they traded Strickland one up for an aging Mo Cheeks. Bah!

      • Junoir Blaber

        Strickland was trying to do his thing on the perimeter instead of feeding the big man.

    • Junoir Blaber

      Nothing is as entertaining as Spanish language news. They hire the former Ms. Spain as their sports correspondent.

    • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

      And what do you watch these days? The Rangers and King Hank winning an OT shootout in Pittsburgh?!

  • SAF

    Great piece Junior, you got me misty for channel 9 as well, and memories of mammaries on Benny Hill.

    • Junoir Blaber

      I can here the music now.

      • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

        Short Matt will be the little bald guy on The New Benny Hill!

  • AngryWard

    I was gonna write another comment but Bowling for Dollars is coming on Channel 9 in a minute. After that I need to watch The Joker’s Wild.

  • Tall Matt

    Loving tribute to Kiner and your fandom.

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