Ed Kranepool, who was only 17 when he began his 18-year career with the Mets in 1962, fully intends to be at Citi Field in 2019 when the team celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first World Series title. Right now, however, he needs a little help to make sure he is in top condition when his name is called.
Kranepool, 72, has two failing kidneys and needs a transplant, he said Thursday night from North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
Kranepool — who hit .261 and is the Mets’ all-time leader in pinch hits with 90 and games played with 1,853, 270 more than runner-up David Wright — is on the waiting list. A longtime diabetic, he recently had surgery to have his left big toe amputated after a months-long effort to treat an infection failed.
“When you have a bad kidney, you can only take so many antibiotics, and when you take less, it doesn’t work,’’ Kranepool said by phone. “We did it for six, seven months, all kinds of things trying to save the toe. The doctor finally said it’s not going to get any better; this abscess could spread at any point. I said, ‘OK, let’s schedule it.’ ’’
Kranepool, who lives in Old Westbury and works for a credit card processing company, now has what he described as an open wound and will need physical therapy to help him walk again. “I’m a diabetic for almost 40 years,’’ he said. “Got it right about the time I retired [after the 1979 season]. The golden years aren’t so golden. They’re a little rusty. I’m close to having to go to dialysis, but we’re trying to avoid that. That’s not a way of life. So I want to go for a kidney.’’
His kidneys are functioning at 20 percent, Kranepool said, and he’s concerned about a long wait on the list. He was told the wait is five years unless a donor steps forward. “You get a donor, you can go any time for the transplant,’’ he said. “You don’t have a list. I couldn’t do any of that until I got rid of my infection.’’
Mickey Mantle reportedly was moved up on the transplant list in 1995 when he needed a liver. The Hall of Fame Yankee had an organ ravaged by cancer, hepatitis and cirrhosis, which was attributed to alcohol abuse, and it became the subject of some controversy.
Kranepool has no such issues. “I [couldn’t] care less about a controversy when you get to the point when you need it,’’ he said.
Kranepool hopes he doesn’t have to wait too long. “I’ve done a lot of charity work over the years. Maybe there’s somebody that’s going to donate an organ anyway, which people do,’’ he said. “If I could find one, that would be super. My blood type is AB, so I’m compatible with a lot of people.’’
Kranepool said he did not make the Mets aware of his hospitalization. There was no immediate comment from the team.