Baseball community mourns death of Mets announcer Ralph Kiner
Hall of Famer and former Mets announcer Ralph Kiner waves to the fans prior to throwing out the first pitch on April 8, 2011 in New York City [AFP]

Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner, who led the National League in home runs six straight seasons from 1947 through 1952, died on Thursday at the age of 91.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced his death, saying Kiner died peacefully of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Kiner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975. His 10-year major league career had ended after the 1955 season. A six-time All-Star, he was a career .279 hitter, belted 369 homers and drove in 1,015 runs over 1,472 games.

He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he led the NL in homers from 1947-1952. His best season was in 1949, when he posted career highs of 54 homers, 127 runs batted in and a .310 batting average.

He finished fourth in NL Most Valuable Player voting that year.

"With the passing of Ralph Kiner, the baseball world has lost one of its greatest ambassadors and the Hall of Fame has lost a wonderful friend," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

"Ralph spent eight decades as a player, executive and broadcaster. He was a man who truly loved our National Pastime and made it better in every way. His legacy will live forever in Cooperstown."

Kiner also played for the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, and after his playing days took up a broadcast career. He was one of the original broadcasters of the New York Mets and became a beloved Mets figure.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]