Ed Kranepool will never again seem quite as impressive in the Met imagination after David Wright records one more single, double, triple or home run and owns outright the franchise base hit record. David tied Eddie last night at 1,418. It’s a relatively small number as all-time team marks go and it will look smaller the longer David plays as a Met and the more distance David puts behind it.
But Ed Kranepool will always be Ed Kranepool to those of us who entered Met consciousness when Endless Eddie Kranepool was relentlessly enduring and occasionally excelling. And that will always be impressive.
The following was first posted here on April 3, 2005, pertinent to Eddie’s landing at No. 10 on our One Hundred Greatest Mets of the First Forty Years countdown. Even then, the Top Ten was a bit of a stretch for him, but I really admired the longevity and exclusivity the name Ed Kranepool represented. For a ballclub on which ballplayers didn’t stick around (and still don’t stick around, David Wright pending), longevity and exclusivity seemed worth a few bonus points. Also, the franchise rankings mentioned below have changed as the years have rolled by like an army of Terrence Mann’s Field Of Dreams steamrollers, but that was to be expected. If Ed still ranked impenetrably high in so many Met categories, we’d have to wonder if anybody here could play this game over the past decade.
Anyway, in appreciation of Eddie Kranepool…
Other teams have had Ed Kranepools — guys whose names are code to outsiders and lapsed loyalists for “oh yeah, that guy, huh?” The name brings a chuckle for more innocent times, when the game wasn’t a business, when a guy like that could play ball. It is doubtful that those teams’ Ed Kranepools are quite the force in their all-time record books as the real Ed Kranepool is in ours. He may be emblematic of an era or three of Mets baseball, but he’s not a mascot.
He played. He played here forever. Play somewhere forever long enough and you’re going to show up mighty high in a lot of categories. When it comes to Met milestones, Ed Kranepool is the antenna adorning the Empire State Building: First in games played by 500-plus; more than a thousand at-bats ahead of the pack; tops in doubles; a slim lead in total bases; even eighth in triples. And since playing the last of his eighteen seasons or season fragments in 1979, a quarter-century has come and gone without anybody seriously challenging his franchise hits record of 1,418.
It is at least partly to Ed Kranepool’s credit that he established such an unbeatable mark. It is also a reflection of the organization for whom he played that it didn’t keep around a guy or two who would’ve broken the record pretty easily in far less time than it took Eddie to set it. The Major League record for career hits is owned by Pete Rose: 4,256. That’s three times as many as Kranepool amassed.
Let’s just say that this is not the most distinguished benchmark in baseball, but 1,418 it is and the 1,418 is his. Don’t do the math to figure out what that translates to over eighteen seasons. Don’t look too closely at Ed Kranepool year-by-year. It’s not impressive. He was an All-Star once (for a team that lost 112 games) and found his groove late in life as a timely pinch-hitter. The story of Krane is not what he accomplished but over how long a period he accomplished it.
With the reserve clause in full effect until his career was almost over, Ed Kranepool wasn’t going anywhere early, especially since he was the Mets’ first glamour signing, glitz apparently not as lustrous as it would become. He showed up just long enough in 1962 so he could forever be the player who remained from the inaugural season. When Jim Hickman was traded following 1966, Eddie became the longest-tenured Met. The 1967 Yearbook refers to him as “The Dean”. For thirteen of his eighteen seasons, Ed Kranepool was in a league of his own on the Mets. He had seen it all: The Polo Grounds; the Memorial Day 1964 marathon doubleheader against the Giants (he played in all 32 innings that Sunday after having played in a twinbill that Saturday in Buffalo); a homer of his own in Game Three against the Orioles; a brief dip down into Tidewater at Hodges’ behest; a renaissance thereafter. He was always the guy who dated back over all those years.
It was amusing when a placard went up in the ’60s to ask if Ed Kranepool was over the hill. It’s astonishing to realize that because Eddie was so young at the beginning — 17 when he played his first game — that in none of his eighteen Met years, not even 1979, was he ever the oldest player on the team for an entire season. When ancient Eddie Kranepool played his final game, he was all of 34.
Ed Kranepool will be among the many Mets greats appearing at the November 1 fundraiser in honor of Shannon Forde, the Mets’ media relations stalwart (and friend of our blogging community) as she battles Stage IV breast cancer. Please look into attending or donating to Shannon’s cause. All information here.