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Dave Kingman  

David Arthur Kingman was born December 21, 1948 in Pendleton, Oregon and nicknamed "Kong" and "Sky King", is a former Major League Baseball slugger who played for the San Francisco Giants (1971-74), New York Mets (1975-77, 1981-83), San Diego Padres (1977

    A standout player at the University of Southern California, 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 Giants with the first pick of the 1970 secondary phase draft.

Dave 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, sometimes over 550 feet; on five separate occasions he hit three home runs in a game. In his first major league game, he hit a home run, and he slugged two more a day later; early the next year, he hit for the cycle. But his free-swinging cut both ways, as he was also apt to strike out regularly, and usually posted a low batting average.

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"; Chicago columnist Mike Royko referred to him as "Dave Ding-Dong"). But Kingman never liked the spotlight, and just wanted to play the game and be left alone off the field. His unpredictable and often antisocial behavior, 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 a respectable .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 next closest NL player (Mike Schmidt). That was the year he showed the most discipline at the plate, and it paid off, but it did not last, and his popularity with the Cubs 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 HRs and 90 RBIs in each of those years. He also had two remarkable at-bats in this period which didn't result in HRs, 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; and 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 1941 games played. He also struck out 1,816 times, then the 4th-highest total in history. He was named to the NL All-Star team three times (1976-79-80).


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