Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner Pirates Portrait by Gil Cohen, Pulp Artist

Ralph Kiner Pirates Portrait by Gil Cohen, Pulp Artist


Oil on canvas depicting National Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner (1922-2014) painted by artist Gil Cohen in 1948. Kiner is depicted in his Pirates uniform gripping five baseball bats. Signed "Gil Cohen" and dated "8-48" in the lower right corner. A 1" long closed tear is located in the upper left quadrant to the left of Kiner's baseball cap, while a 1.5" long surface abrasion runs diagonally over the baseball cap. A few frame stretcher marks and expected surface wear including minor dents and dings, otherwise in very good to near fine condition. The sight size is 26" x 32.5" while the actual size including the frame is 32.75" x 39.5" x 1.25".  Provenance: Acquired directly from the Kiner Family.


Ralph Kiner first played Major League Baseball as a left fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1946-1953). During Kiner's sensational career as an outfielder and hitter, he was elected to the Pirates All Stars for 5 consecutive years, from 1948-1952. The Pittsburgh Pirates retired Kiner's number 4 in 1987.


Afterwards, Kiner played for the Chicago Cubs (1953-1954) and the Cleveland Indians (1955) during the remainder of his 9-year-long professional career. Overall, he was a 7x home run leader, with a lifetime batting average of .279. Kiner retired at age 32 after a serious back injury. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.


Kiner later returned to the sport as an Emmy award winning sportscaster. He hosted his own segment called "Kiner's Korner" and commentated Chicago White Sox and New York Mets games for 53 seasons, making him the third-longest active baseball sportscaster of all time. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1984.


Artist Gil Cohen (born 1932) is a talented illustrator famed for vividly colored and punchy pulp magazine covers and movie posters from the 1950s-80s. Cohen, born and raised in Philadelphia, graduated from the Philadelphia Museum of Art School in 1953 and later taught there between 1966-1986. In addition to his men's adventure illustrations, Cohen is also celebrated for his historical military and aviation art.


Cohen confirmed he was the artist of this painting in a July 20, 2018 phone interview, and also gave some wonderful details about its creation. Cohen began drawing as a toddler and advanced to the sale of his work--mostly on Atlantic City boardwalks--as a 10-year-old tot. By 16, the talented artist already had a manager in the form of his high school buddy Jerry. "I had the talent, and he had the guts," Cohen wryly recalled of his friend.


In 1940s Philadelphia, a Saturday radio program interviewed athletes during the baseball, football, and basketball seasons. Gil Cohen was a devoted listener. Hank Greenberg had just been acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cohen had submitted a drawing of him. Ralph Kiner, at that point still a newbie on the Pirates and Greenberg's protegee, saw Cohen's drawing of Greenberg and invited the two boys (Gil and Jerry) to the ball park. The kids met Kiner there on a rainy day and were invited into the clubhouse. Greenberg loved Cohen's portrait. He kept it, and in exchange, presented the boys with signed baseballs and box seat passes to the next Pirates game against the Philadelphia Phillies.


Cohen then did a drawing of Ralph Kiner that the baseball player displayed in his study for years, according to Kiner's son Scott. Gil believes that he might have painted this portrait of Kiner--possibly his first large-scale project on stretch canvas--in return for Kiner's kindness in welcoming the boys. It would have been painted in August 1948 during the waning days of the baseball season.


The artist also recalls that he walked with Kiner and the rest of the Pirates team a half mile to the Philadelphia train station one day. The team was headed to New York to play the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants. Cohen, the ecstatic teenaged fan, peppered Kiner with questions on the way. When he ran out of things to say, Cohen blurted out the first thing he thought of: the most recent Hollywood gossip linking Kiner with black-haired bombshell Elizabeth Taylor. "How's Elizabeth Taylor?", Cohen asked. Unperturbed, Kiner replied: "She's fine."



Item: 64722

Price: $9,500.00
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Ralph Kiner
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