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Dave Kingman

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Dave Kingman

A photo of Dave Kingman.

David Arthur Kingman (born December 21, 1948 in Pendleton, Oregon), nicknamed "Kong" and "Sky King," is a former Major League Baseball slugger who played for the San Francisco Giants (1971-1974), New York Mets (1975-1977, 1981-1983), San Diego Padres (1977), California Angels (1977), New York Yankees (1977), Chicago Cubs (1978-1980) and Oakland Athletics (1984-1986).

College careerEdit

A standout player at the University of Southern California, where he played under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux, Kingman began as a pitcher before being converted to an outfielder. In 1970, he was named an All-American and led the Trojans to the College World Series championship. He was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the first pick of the 1970 secondary phase draft.

Professional careerEdit

The towering 6'6" Kingman became one of the most feared sluggers of the 1970s and 1980s. His height and long-armed, sweeping swing were sufficient to propel a baseball a very long distance when he connected solidly. It was said of him that he was one of those players that when he came to bat, everyone in the park stopped whatever they were doing to watch him. He hit plenty of home runs, and he could hit them farther than many had ever seen, once over 530 feet; on five separate occasions he hit three home runs in a game. He made his mark as a slugger early on. His major league debut was on July 30, 1971, [1] pinch running for Willie McCovey and then finishing the game at first base. In just his second major league game, the next day, he hit a home run[2], and he slugged two more a day later[3]. Early the next year, he hit for the cycle, on April 16, 1972.

His free-swinging, however, cut both ways, as he was also apt to strike out regularly, and usually posted a low batting average and on-base percentage, often leading the league in outs made. While impressively belting out more than 400 home runs in his career, he was never a serious candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, 1992, he appeared on just 3 ballots [4], disqualifying him from future BBWAA voting.

Kingman came up with the San Francisco Giants and played in the outfield, at first base, and at third base (besides two emergency appearances as a pitcher). After a difficult season in 1974 when he had 12 errors in 59 chances, the Giants not only stopped playing him at third base, they sold him to the New York Mets. Thereafter, he played only 14 games at third, and never pitched again.

He spent his career with seven teams in both leagues, and was known as a difficult teammate wherever he played. One Mets teammate stated publicly that Kingman had "the personality of a tree stump;"[citation needed] Chicago columnist Mike Royko referred to him as "Dave Ding-Dong." [5] But Kingman never cared for the spotlight, and just wanted to play the game and be left alone off the field. His unpredictable and often antisocial behavior (he once sent a live rat to a reporter[6]), and largely one-dimensional game, led to his being regularly traded. In one three-month stretch in 1977, he was traded, waived, and had his contract sold, becoming the first player to play in four divisions in one year; he was also released after the season.

Kingman had his best year in 1979, when he played his first full season for the Cubs, hitting an impressive .288 with a National League-leading 48 homers, as well as 115 runs batted in and 97 runs scored. His .613 slugging percentage was almost 50 points higher than that of the closest National League player, Mike Schmidt. That was the year he showed the most self-discipline at the plate, and it paid off. But it did not last, and his popularity with Cubs fans soon faded. Traded to the Mets before the 1981 season, he again led the NL in home runs in 1982.

Always an awkward defensive player while primarily playing the outfield and first base, he played his last three seasons as a designated hitter in Oakland, collecting at least 30 home runs and 90 RBIs in each of those years. He also had two remarkable at-bats in this period which did not result in home runs, but nonetheless added to his legend: in a 1984 game in Minnesota, he hit a pop-up which went all the way to the roof of the Metrodome, but stuck there (for a ground rule double). In a 1985 game in Seattle, he hit a tremendous drive to left field which struck a speaker hanging from the roof of the Kingdome, bounced back and was caught.

In his 16-season career, Dave Kingman batted .236, with 442 home runs, 1210 runs batted in, 901 runs scored, 1575 hits, 240 doubles, 25 triples and 85 stolen bases in 1,941 games played. He also struck out 1,816 times, then the 4th-highest total in history. He was named to the National League All-Star team three times (1976-1979-1980).


  • "That one's in Milwaukee!" - Chicago radio broadcaster Lou Boudreau, describing a very long Kingman home run at Wrigley Field. (From the VHS tape, Chicago and the Cubs: A Lifelong Love Affair, narrated by Mike Royko, MLB Productions, 1987).
  • "What's my opinion of Kingman's performance!? What the fuck do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was fucking horseshit! Put that in, I don't fucking care. Opinion of his performance!? Jesus Christ, he beat us with three fucking home runs! What the fuck do you mean, 'What is my opinion of his performance?' How could you ask me a question like that, 'What is my opinion of his performance?' Jesus Christ, he hit three home runs! Jesus Christ! I'm fucking pissed off to lose the fucking game. And you ask me my opinion of his performance! Jesus Christ. That's a tough question to ask me, isn't it? 'What is my opinion of his performance?'" - Tommy Lasorda, in response to a question from reporter Paul Olden about Kingman's hitting three home runs during a May 14, 1978 10-7 victory by the Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The "censored" version of this diatribe, with the many "beeps" adding to its humorous effect, can be heard on one of the Baseball's Greatest Hits CDs. [7]


  • He was the first player to hit 400 or more home runs without being eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  • In 1977, he became the first player to play in four different divisions in the same year - New York Mets (National League East), San Diego Padres (National League West), California Angels (American League West) and New York Yankees (American League East)
  • Led the National League in strikeouts 3 times (131, [1979]; 105, [1981]; 156, [1982])
  • In 1982 he hit 37 home runs, a new Mets' single-season record, which stood until Darryl Strawberry hit 39 in 1987. But he also batted just .204[8], the lowest batting average ever recorded for a first baseman with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Leading the league in home runs that year, it is also the lowest batting average for anyone during the season they led in home runs.[9] Additionally, he accomplished the dubious feat of leading the league in home runs while having a lower batting average than the Cy Young Award winner, (Steve Carlton, .218).[10]
  • Lifetime walks-to-strikeout ratio: 0.335 (608-1816)
  • In 1975, when he hit 36 home runs, he also scored a mere 65 runs, the highest percentage of runs scored on homers for anyone that hit more than 30 in a season

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Joe Morgan
Pete Rose
National League Player of the Month
July 1975
April 1980
Succeeded by:
Tony Pérez
Mike Schmidt
Preceded by:
George Foster
Mike Schmidt
National League Home Run Champion
Succeeded by:
Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Preceded by:
Alan Trammell
AL Comeback Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
Gorman Thomas

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