Kiner also led the league with 127 RBI . He placed fourth in the Most Valuable Player voting by baseball writers, his highest finish ever; Jackie Robinson, the batting champion for pennant-winning Brooklyn, won the award.
The Pirates signed him to a two-year contract, highly unusual at the time, at $65,000 a season. He was the highest-paid player in the National League; American Leaguers Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Bob Feller made more. Kiner said club owner John Galbreath also cut him in on some real estate investments.
But that was far less than he was worth, as big-league players would find out when free agency arrived a quarter-century later. A Pittsburgh theatrical booking agent remarked, "If Kiner were as big a figure in show business as he is in baseball, he would draw down a stipend of $30,000 a week."
At that time Kiner was still living with his mother in Alhambra. The singer Bing Crosby, a minority owner of the Pirates, drew the young, single star into his Hollywood circle, even arranging for Kiner to escort 17-year-old actress Elizabeth Taylor to a movie premiere. He built a house in Palm Springs, California, then just emerging as a golf and tennis resort for the Hollywood set; Kiner was now an avid golfer. Friends and neighbors included Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball and her husband and co-star, Desi Arnaz.
He dated other Hollywood starlets, but on October 13, 1951, he married 22-year-old tennis star Nancy Chaffee, the sixth-ranked American player. Greenberg served as best man at the wedding. Kiner proudly recounted that, after two years of lessons, he was able to beat Nancy at tennis - two weeks before she gave birth to their first child.
In 1950 Branch Rickey, the baseball legend who had built dynasties with the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers, became the Pirates' general manager, but the club fell to last place.