For New York Mets legend Ed Kranepool, the letters “A.B.” used to be an abbreviation for his next at bat, of which he amassed 5,436 throughout his playing days in Flushing.
Now, it’s an important detail – his AB blood type – in Steady Eddie’s quest to find an organ donor to replace one of his defunct kidneys. His are functioning under 20 percent, according to his doctors. Time is of the essence.
“I thought, originally, that I was having a heart attack when the kidneys began to shut down,” says Kranepool, of Old Westbury. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet.”
That day, at the behest of his wife and grandchildren, Kranepool sought medical advice. Physicians ruled out a heart attack. The path forward became as clear as the route to first base: Get a clean bill of health and be a candidate for a kidney transplant. But Kranepool was dealing with a serious infection that kept him off the transplant list.
“You need to be in tip-top shape for (transplant specialists) to consider you for a transplant,” Kranepool says. “So, we met with so many doctors. We went to the heart doctor for stress testing, then back to the kidney specialist. I even had to get a signoff from my dentist.”
When all of the potential harbors for infection were checked, Kranepool received the OK to pursue a kidney match. It has since become the focus of his attention. While under very different circumstances, this isn’t the first time Kranepool has overcome adversity. Being sent down to the minor leagues just a few months after winning the World Series stands out.
“With the Mets for six or seven years at this point, we win the World Series in ‘69, you go from one year playing in the Major Leagues to the next where they send you down,” Kranepool says. “That’s a tough bullet to bite. It takes something inside of you to want to fight your way back.”
But, he did it.
“If you go down there and sulk, hit .100 or .200, you’re getting released,” Kranepool says. “You show them that you can do it, so I went down there and tried to hit .350. I earned my way back.”
For good measure, “Kraner” hit .280 his next season in the majors. That was the best batting average by season during his illustrious 18-year career in the big leagues.
Although he was never fleet of foot as a player, Kranepool, now 73, takes especially slow, ambling strides as he walks to ensure the loss of his recently amputated toes don’t cause a fall. He does this across his basement-turned memorabilia display, brandishing dozens of autographed photos and baseballs acquired throughout his playing days in MLB, pointing out certain precious moments with his intimidating Louisville Slugger- turned walking cane.
Kranepool has been selling memorabilia to fans and collectors, giving others a chance to enjoy some of the precious items he collected.
“We were always raising money for something,” Kranepool says as he expands upon a few select plaques from his countless days of charity work, digging in excitedly at every piece featuring charitable events organized in the name of Yankees’ legend Joe DiMaggio.
Kranepool grew up in the Bronx and was, admittedly, a Yankees fan. Now though, Kranepool has many more precious moments to live for. He’s got seven grandchildren who keep him active. He loves boating and looks forward to getting back on the many local golf courses he’s walked for charitable causes.
Martin Gover, President of Momentum Sports Management Inc. and Kranepool’s friend, says that it’d be tough to find someone more deserving of the help.
“Ed is a true New Yorker through and through, someone who has always given back,” Gover says. “He’s the longest-tenured Met and is beloved by fans.”
With luck, Kranepool will have a pinch hitter of his own come through in the clutch.
Kranepool is offering a limited number of collectors the opportunity to visit him at his home to examine and purchase unique Mets and Yankees memorabilia directly from his collection. The items for sale are autographed vintage photos, autographed assorted team and individual baseballs, great baseball memorabilia from different teams, as well as unsigned, never-before seen photos from when he was with the Mets.
This is an opportunity to visit Kranepool for a Meet and Greet at his home this spring. The meetings will take place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, as well as some weekends. All home visits will be by appointment only. This memorabilia sale will help pay for some of Ed’s major medical bills from this past year.
Those interested should contact Martin Gover of Momentum Sports Management, Inc. at 212-918-4545.
Organ Donor Need By The Numbers
114,882: People on the national waiting list for organs.
9,359: People waiting in New York State.
8,110: People waiting in the New York Metro area.
In NY, you can register to become an organ donor when you visit the DMV, register to vote, apply for an idNYC card, register for health insurance through the health benefits exchange, or at LongLiveNY.org.