- 1B, LF, OF, RF, 3B, P, DH
- Kong, Sky King
- December 21, 1948
- 6' 6"
- 210 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 7-30-1971 with SFN
Kingman could hit baseballs great distances, but disdained defense, the fans, and sportswriters - female writers in particular. He also struck out a ton, posted poor batting averages. The hulking, long-haired slugger spent time with seven teams and was known as a difficult teammate. Kingman, a shy man by nature, never liked the spotlight and just wanted to be left alone, though many of his problems were of his own making, such as the time he sent a rat to a female reporter.
Kong's tremendous home runs (he retired 20th on the all-time list) and sweeping strikeouts (he led the NL three times), after which he'd sometimes fall in a 6'6" tangle of arms and legs, brought him unwanted attention. People admired his strength, laughed at his awkwardness. In 1979 he tied a ML record for HR in two consecutive games (five), and most times hitting three or more HR in a game in one season (two). On the other hand, in 1982 he tied a ML record by striking out five times in a nine-inning game.
Kingman was a smart and, at one time, fast baserunner, and he had a lightning-quick swing with a home run uppercut. He shortened his stroke while with the Cubs in 1979 (in the "friendly confines" of Wrigley Field) and set career marks in batting average (.288) and home runs (a league-high 48). He led the NL in HR with 37 for the 1982 Mets but batted just .204. His average dropped to .198 in 1983; with Oakland in 1984, his 35 homers, career-high 118 RBI, and .268 average won him AL Comeback Player of the Year honors. Kingman's unpredictable, often antisocial behavior and one-dimensional game got him traded often; he tied a modern record by playing with four different clubs during the 1977 season. While with Oakland in 1985, he sent a rat to a female sportswriter. In 1986, though he had just come off a 35-HR season, the free agent found no takers.
His 442 career homers are the most by any player eligible for the Hall of Fame but not yet in, before the steroid era players became eligble.
Quotes About Dave Kingman
"I told Yogi that if he plays Dave in 150 games, he'll hit 30 homers for them, maybe 40. And after he's playing regularly for a couple of years, he'll be the next man to hit 60 homers." — Teammate Bobby Bonds in 1975
Quotes From Dave Kingman
"Everybody's always talking about my strikeouts. If I played everyday, I could strike out maybe 400 times. I have no idea how many home runs I could hit if I played every day. I've never played every day." — Kingman in 1975
"A ballplayer has to just go out and be mean. You can't play half-heartedly. If you do, there's someone right over your shoulder that'll take your job away. If you don't do your job, what they're paying you for, why should they pay you? You just can't put in eight hours, that's what a lot of people don't realize about athletes. Very few people realize the pressure."
Feud with Writers
In the late 1970s, Mike Royko, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, became so annoyed with Kingman's attitude toward reporters, that he publicly announced he was changing his allegiance to the White Sox. When asked why he would abandon the Cubs, a team he rooted for most of his life, Royko snapped, "I'd prefer an owner with a wooden leg (Bill Veeck) to a left fielder with a wooden head."
During his final year in Oakland in 1986, Kingman sent a live rat wrapped in a pink box to Sue Fornoff, a sportswriter for the Sacramento Bee newspaper. The rat had a tag attached to it that read, "My name is Sue." Fornoff claimed that Kingman had told her that women do not belong in the clubhouse, and that he harassed her several times since she began covering the team the year before. For his part, Kingman claimed it was practical joke. The A's fined Kingman $3,500 and warned that he would be released if a similar incident occurred again.
When Kingman took relief pitchers Rollie Fingers and Tug McGraw out for a deep-sea fishing excursion, he quipped: "If I pushed these guys overboard, my batting average would improve by 50 points."
Folk singer Steve Goodman wrote a song about Kingman in 1980 that contained this verse:
He's a home run hero in the national pastime;
And he cannot understand why they won't leave him alone.
He belongs to the crowd from April to October;
When the season is over, then his time is his own.
Outfield (648 games), first base (603), designated hitter (434), third base (154), pitcher (2).
The Giants loved his bat, but they didn't have any room for him in their outfield, so they tried to make him an infielder. In 1972-1974, Kingman played 140 games for the Giants at third base, where he committed 44 errors. He wasn't much better at first base, making 13 errors in 91 games in 1974. The Mets tried the tall, lumbering slugger in left field (in 1975), and right field (1976), before trading the troublemaker in 1977, when he played for four teams in four different divisions. With the Cubs from 1978-1980, he was allowed to play left field, and he enjoyed some of his most productive seasons, though his glove seemed allergic to the baseball, and he made 23 errors in exactly 300 games. The Mets got him back and played him at first, where he was dismal - committing 13 errors in 1981, and an amazing 18 in 1982. Anyone who saw Kingman play first base can easily recall the image of the 6-foot, six-inch giant refusing to bend over to field throws below is knees. He also displayed the range of an anvil. The A's had the right idea from 1984-1986, using Kingman as a DH almost exclusively. In his final season, in '86, Kingman played just three games in the field, but still managed to fumble the ball for two errors.
June 4, 1970: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round (1st pick) of the 1970 amateur draft (Secondary Phase); February 28, 1975: Purchased by the New York Mets from the San Francisco Giants; June 15, 1977: Traded by the New York Mets to the San Diego Padres for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert; September 6, 1977: Selected off waivers by the California Angels from the San Diego Padres; September 15, 1977: Purchased by the New York Yankees from the California Angels; November 2, 1977: Granted Free Agency; November 30, 1977: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs; February 28, 1981: Traded by the Chicago Cubs to the New York Mets for Steve Henderson and cash; January 30, 1984: Released by the New York Mets; March 29, 1984: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; November 8, 1984: Granted Free Agency; December 19, 1984: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; December 20, 1985: Released by the Oakland Athletics; January 20, 1986: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; November 12, 1986: Granted Free Agency; July 11, 1987: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants sold Kingman to the Mets in March, 1975. Owner Horace Stoneham explained the deal: "He wasn't happy here and we don't want him if he doesn't have a complete desire to be with us." The Mets gave the Giants $100,000 for the slugger and quickly made sure to clarify his role. "What I saw of him at third." said Mets skipper Yogi Berra emphatically, "I didn't like. "But he gives us a pretty good guy on the bench and he's insurance in the outfield if Cleon Jones can't do the job." The Giants had tried unsuccessfully to trade Kingman straight up for Jon Matlack in 1973 but were rebuffed by New York. The Mets were willing to swap Jerry Koosman, but the deal fell through.
Dave Kingman was acquired by the Yankees in 1977 and was not eligible for the post-season. Kingman played eight games for the Yankees. Though he batted just .250, his season average with four clubs was only .221. He had four homers and seven RBI [for the Yanks] with a two-run homer in a 6-5 win over Detroit. The day after purchasing Kingman, the Yankees sold Carlos May to the Angels. This move caused the Yankees to have only 24 eligible players for the 1977 post-season. The Yankees wanted to add Kingman or Dell Alston, but were denied by the league president. — Wayne McElreavy, SABR-L
Home Run Facts
Kingman hit 139 homers as a left fielder, 122 as a first baseman, and 101 as a DH. He joins Harmon Killebrew and Stan Musial as one of three players to hit at least 100 HR at three different positions. Source: David Vincent.
At the Kingdome, on August 10, 1985, Kingman belted his 400th career homer, a two-run, first-inning blast off the Mariners' Matt Young... On April 30, 1982, at Candlestick Park, Kingman collected his 300th home run, off Rich Gale.
August 10, 1985: 400th HR... Off Seattle' Matt Young, it came in the first inning and was a two-run blast. April 15, 1972: Cycle, and April 16, 1984: 3 HR in a game.
Was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year in 1984.
In 1979, Dave Kingman belted five homers in two games, and also hit three homers in a game twice, tying major league records.
- Dave Kingman