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Dave Kingman

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David Arthur Kingman (Kong or Sky King)

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[edit] Biographical Information

[edit] Introduction

Dave Kingman is well-known as the major league slugger who until recently had the most home runs yet was not in the Hall of Fame. Jose Canseco with 462 has since passed him, followed by Mark McGwire. Kingman's 442 home runs put him # 34 on the all-time home run list - he was # 20 at the time he retired. Equally famous for his towering sky-high fly balls, he was appropriately nicknamed "Sky-King" early in his career.

In his first year of eligibility for the Hall, Kingman, a .236 career hitter who struck out 100 or more times during 14 of his 16 year career, drew less than one percent of the vote and was dropped from subsequent ballots. Considered immature and not well liked by some sportswriters, he once sent a rat in a box to a female sportswriter close to the end of his career, and that may have hastened the end. In his last season, he hit 35 home runs, the most anyone has hit in his final season.

[edit] The good and the bad

With a very poor career on-base percentage of only .302, it is often said that Kingman did little else but strike out or hit home runs. As a young third baseman, he made many errors but he had good range, and his arm was strong (he had been a pitcher in college for a while). As a hitter, although his lifetime batting average was .236, he hit as high as .288, in 1979, while leading the league in home runs (48), slugging (.613) and OPS (.956). At the end of his career he ranked 6th all time in home run percentage. In his first full season with the San Francisco Giants, the lanky slugger stole 16 bases in 22 tries. While never anywhere close to being an MVP, he was voted Comeback Player of the Year in 1984.

[edit] His early career

Dave Kingman was born in Oregon, but went to high school in Illinois. He was a star pitcher at Prospect High School, and attended the University of Southern California during 1969 and 1970, where Rod Dedeaux converted him to an outfielder. He is not the only controversial slugger to have attended USC - that's also where Mark McGwire went.

Kingman played only briefly in the minors. After being the # 1 draft pick in 1970 (after having been drafted twice previously), he spent 60 games at Amarillo in Double A and 105 at Phoenix in Triple A. In both places, he slugged over .550. By the end of July 1971, only 13 months after he had signed to play professional ball, he was in the majors.

In 1973, at the age of 24, Dave pitched four innings for the Giants, giving up four runs. A player who might well have been successful as a major league pitcher, in this cup of coffee as a pitcher he threw four strikeouts in the four innings, giving up only three hits, although he also gave up six walks and two wild pitches.

[edit] Career

Kingman hit at least 30 home runs in a season seven times in his career. His peak was with the Chicago Cubs in 1979 when he hit 48, a total that was only one less than the Houston Astros (who hit 49 as a team.)

[edit] Miscellany

While a Met, Dave Kingman hit what might be the longest home run in the history of Wrigley Field. He hit it out of the park, past Waveland Avenue in left, onto Kenmore Avenue four houses down. Had it traveled another 15 feet it would have smashed through the window of the home of a woman watching the game on her television.

While a Cub, he wrote a few columns for the Chicago Tribune, and Mike Royko, then working for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote at least one parody column of a slugger called "Dave Dingdong."

In 1977, became the only player to hit a home run for a team in four different divisions in the same years. He homered with the New York Mets (NL), San Diego Padres (NL), California Angels (AL), and the New York Yankees (AL). That year, he also became the only player to homer with both the New York Mets (NL) and the New York Yankees (AL) in the same season (1977).

In 1982, Kingman became the first New York Met ever to lead the National League in home runs. Despite this accomplishment, his batting average of .204 was 14 points lower than that of Steve Carlton (.218), the league's Cy Young Award winner.

He hit 35 home runs with the Oakland A's in 1986, a record for players in their final season. He also holds the record for lowest batting average among players with at least 300 home runs (.236).

In 1989, he played for the West Palm Beach Tropics of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He hit .271 with 8 homers and 40 runs batted in.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1976, 1979 & 1980)
  • 1984 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1979)
  • NL OPS Leader (1979)
  • 2-time NL Home Runs Leader (1979 & 1982)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (1972, 1973, 1975-1979, 1981, 1982 & 1984-1986)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1975, 1976, 1979, 1982 & 1984-1986)
  • 40 Home Run Seasons: 1 (1979)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1979 & 1984)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1977 (he did not play in the World Series)

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