December 21 – Happy Birthday Dave Kingman

If you’re a baseball fan who is over forty years old, you most likely remember Dave “King-Kong” Kingman pretty well. His big league career lasted from 1971 when he debuted as a 22-year-old San Francisco Giant, until 1986. During that time he put on the uniform of seven different big league teams. In addition to the Giants, those teams included the Mets, A’s, Cubs, Padres, Angels and in 1977 for a very brief time, the New York Yankees.

He was a big guy, six and a half feet tall, who could hit a ball as far as any player I’ve ever seen play the game. I have no idea if actual statistics bear this out but I would guess that Kingman has to be among the all-time leaders in percentage of home runs per fair balls hit over a career. His problem was hitting the ball. He was a strike-out machine and since he was overly aggressive at the plate, pitchers could actually get him out by, in essence, pitching around him.

Still, I remember being real excited when the Yankees got King Kong Kingman from the Angels for the 1977 pennant drive. I never liked him when he played for the Giants or the Mets, but once he donned the pinstripes, I was ready to love him. He saw his first action on September 17th of that season in a Saturday afternoon game in Detroit. After striking out his first time up, he belted a two-run home run in the third inning, driving in Lou Piniella. He went on to homer in his next two games and in four of his first five. I was disappointed that the Yankees did not sign him after that season. He went on to have some very good seasons for both the Cubs and the Mets before retiring in 1986 with 442 career home runs and 1,816 strikeouts.

Kingman was born in Pendleton, OR on today’s date in 1948. He shares his birthday with this former Yankee center-fielder, this former Yankee reliever and this former Yankee infielder prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1977 NYY 8 27 24 5 6 2 0 4 7 0 2 13 .250 .333 .833 1.167
16 Yrs 1941 7429 6677 901 1575 240 25 442 1210 85 608 1816 .236 .302 .478 .780
NYM (6 yrs) 664 2573 2323 302 509 70 6 154 389 29 211 672 .219 .287 .453 .741
SFG (4 yrs) 409 1403 1242 177 278 55 9 77 217 37 138 422 .224 .304 .469 .773
OAK (3 yrs) 449 1883 1702 204 406 58 1 100 303 8 139 359 .239 .296 .450 .746
CHC (3 yrs) 345 1317 1182 193 329 44 9 94 251 9 105 286 .278 .338 .569 .907
SDP (1 yr) 56 187 168 16 40 9 0 11 39 2 12 48 .238 .292 .488 .780
CAL (1 yr) 10 39 36 4 7 2 0 2 4 0 1 16 .194 .237 .417 .654
NYY (1 yr) 8 27 24 5 6 2 0 4 7 0 2 13 .250 .333 .833 1.167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2013.

1 Comment

Kingman also achieved an unusual distinction during the 1977 season — playing for four teams that year, he hit a home run for a team each of the four major league divisions that existed at the time. I don’t think anyone else has ever accomplished that feat.

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