David Arthur Kingman
(Kong or Sky King)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 210 lb.
- School Harper College, University of Southern California
- High School Prospect High School (Mt. Prospect)
- Debut July 30, 1971
- Final Game October 5, 1986
- Born December 21, 1948 in Pendleton, OR USA
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 has since passed him, followed by Mark McGwire and several others. Kingman's 442 home runs rank him 42nd on the all-time home run list - he was 20th 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 the 16 years of his 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 hit in their final season until David Ortiz slugged 38 in 2016.
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 in 1972, 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.
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 1st overall pick of the secondary phase of the 1970 amateur draft (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 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.
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).
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 field, 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.
In 1977, he became the only player to hit a home run for a team in four different divisions in the same year. He homered with the New York Mets (NL East), San Diego Padres (NL West), California Angels (AL West), and the New York Yankees (AL East). That year, he also became the only player to homer for both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees in the same season.
In 1982, Kingman became the first member of the New York Mets 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 a player in his final season broken in 2016. He also holds the record for lowest batting average among players with at least 300 home runs (.236).
- 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)