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Edward Emil "Ed" Kranepool, also known as "Steady Eddie", (born November 8, 1944) is a former major league baseball player for the New York Mets.

Born in the Bronxmarker, New Yorkmarker, Kranepool attended James Monroe High School, where he began playing baseball and was eventually signed, at the age of seventeen, by the New York Mets for $85,000 by Mets' scout Bubber Jonnard. He made his major league debut on September 22, 1962 as a pinch hitter against the Chicago Cubs at the Polo Grounds, where he wore number twenty one. He failed to get a hit. His first full game was the next day, September 23, where he played first base and went 1 for 4 with a double. However, his poor speed and the popularity of the lovable loser "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry kept Kranepool from earning a full time spot. At age 17, Kranepool was six years younger than the next-youngest '62 Met, a reflection of the disastrous decision of Met management to select mostly older veterans in the expansion draft.

In 1963, however, patience for Throneberry's ineptitude on the field and at the plate wore thin on Met fans and management. He was demoted to Triple A Buffalo, and Kranepool became the Mets' full time first baseman. This, too, did not last, and Kranepool was sent down to the minors in July of '63, resurfacing again later in the season as a September call-up. By the age of nineteen it looked like Kranepool wouldn't fully develop as expected, prompting one New York newspaper to print the headline, "Is Ed Kranepool Over The Hill?"

1965 was what could be considered Kranepool's first true "full" season. Changing his number to seven (after the Mets acquired pitcher Warren Spahn who also wore number 21) Kranepool played in 153 games, batting .253 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI, all while making (but not playing in) the All-Star Game. He followed that up in 1966 hitting .254 with 16 homers. The Mets were beginning to become a better team, and in 1969 the Mets completed their remarkable "Miracle" season, in which the team, backed by Kranepool, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, won their first ever World Series title against the Baltimore Orioles. Kranepool hit a home run in game three of the series, a 5-0 win for the Mets.

Despite that magical season, Kranepool was only batting .238 by the end, and things only got worse. In 1970 Kranepool was sent to the Mets' minor league team, the Tidewater Tides, and considered retirement.

Period BA OBP SLG OPS
Through 1971 .250 .305 .369 .674
After 1971 .278 .334 .388 .723
Kranepool would bounce back with perhaps his best season in 1971, batting .280 with 14 home runs, 58 RBI and an OPS+ of 123. He also led the National League with a .998 fielding percentage. The late-career demotion marked a turning point for Kranepool, with him becoming a useful hitter and first baseman/outfielder despite never entering a season with a specific full-time role.

Kranepool's batting success was reflected in a 1978 television commercial for Gillette Foamy shaving cream. The ad began with black-and-white film footage of Kranepool striking out, and an announcer saying, "From 1962 to 1970, Ed Kranepool batted .227. Then Ed switched to Gillette Foamy." The ad showed Kranepool in front of a mirror, lathering up and shaving, and switched to color footage of him hitting a ball down the right-field line. The announcer said, "Since 1971, Ed's batted .283! What do you think of that, Ed?" As baseball players had long had a reputation for being superstitious, the ad closed with Kranepool standing in the dugout, in uniform but lathered up and holding up a can of Foamy, saying, "I don't know, but now I shave every other inning." The closing narration was, "Foamy: More than thick and rich enough for New York's heavy hitters."

Another Gillette commercial featured Kranepool lighting a candle in his bathroom and trying to shave using Foamy during a blackout. The ad was clearly inspired by the New York blackout of the previous season, which came during a Met home game at Shea Stadium on July 13, 1977. Kranepool also appeared in an ad for SportsPhone with teammate Jerry Koosman.

During this period, Kranepool's role generally decreased (with 455 plate appearances in 1976 being a notable exception), becoming a platoon player batting against right-handed pitchers, until he was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter, a role he flourished in. From 1974 through 1978, Kranepool hit .396 as a pinch hitter, batting .486 in the role in '74. Over all, he hit over .300 in both 1974 and 1975, with over 200 and 300 at bats, respectively. He would eventually become a fan favorite, and a legend among Met fans for playing eighteen seasons, all of them with the Mets. No other Met player has ever played for the team for that long. He was the last of the 1962 Mets to remain with the team, and the last of that team to retire from Major League Baseball.

When he retired after the 1979 season at the age of 34, he left as the all-time club leader in eight offensive categories, of which he still leads in four (at-bats: 5436; hits: 1418; doubles: 225; and total bases: 2047). He has also played more games in a Met uniform (1853) than any other player. Though still relatively young at this time, he was never an athletic player, and was only useful as long as his pinch-hits kept dropping in. He had also reportedly had some friction with the team's ownership group, led by Lorinda DeRoulet, that was controlling the team after the death of longtime majority owner and president Joan Payson. When the team was sold after the 1979 season to a group headed by Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon, Kranepool was part of one of the groups offering a losing bid.

Ed Kranepool made a living after retirement as a stockbroker and restaurateur, and was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1990. He is currently living in New York.

Ed Kranepool also appeared on Saturday Night Live in a cameo appearance, being interviewed by Bill Murray during a skit filmed during spring training in 1979, regarding Chico Escuela's (portrayed by Garrett Morris) tell all book, Bad Stuff 'bout The Mets.

Quotes

References

  1. BaseballLibrary.com article on Ed Kranepool, Ken Turetzky.
  2. http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10140NYN1969.htm Box Score of Game 3, 1969 World Series, October 14, 1969
  3. This statistic would not gain currency for a few decades, but is a pretty reliable objective measure of a player's performance, normalizing for the his home park and league-era environments.


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