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July 2011



Northside Archives: Dave Kingman

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July 28, 1979; Cubs vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium

Cubs slugger Dave Kingman becomes only the sixth player (at that time) in baseball history to hit 3HRs in a game for the second time in one season.  The Mets win 6-4.

Kingman, in his second year with the Cubs and 9th season overall, was enjoying what would be the best year of his career.  He finished with a league leading 48 HRs, .613 SLG, and .956 OPS.  He also led the league in strikeouts with 131.  He finished 11th in NL MVP voting – behind even his teammate Bruce Sutter.  That about sums up the career of Dave Kingman; he was Adam Dunn before Adam Dunn was born.

The first time Dave Kingman hit 3HRs in a game that year was against the Phillies, in the legendary 23-22 loss at Wrigley.  A Cub has accomplished the feat 37 different times, not surprisingly with Sammy Sosa turning in 6 such performances.  After Kingman, it would be an 8 year wait to see another Cub hit 3HRs – Andre Dawson, 8/1/1987.

Kingman’s all or nothing approach at the plate earned him a well traveled baseball career.  Starting in San Francisco, he would play for 7 different teams (including two stints with the Mets) before finishing his career across the bay in Oakland after 16 seasons.  In 1977 he played for 4 different teams.  Though he led the league in HRs twice, he also led it in strikeouts on three occasions.  And other than his 3 seasons with the Cubs, he had only one more full season in which he hit for an average higher than .238 – he was a lifetime .236 hitter.

500 different times a player has hit at least 3HRs in a game – 19 different players have done it twice in the same season.  Kingman is the only one of those 19 players to have his team lose both of his 3HR games in the same season.  In fact, of those 39 games (Sosa hit 3HRs, on 3 different occasions in 2001) the player’s team is 30-8-1; the Cubs record is 3-4 (we lost 2 of the 3 games in 2001 when Sosa accomplished the feat, but won both times Aramis Ramirez did it in 2004) – ouch!

Kingman would go on to hit 3HRs in a game one more time in his career, for the 1984 A’s.  Though he finished with 442 career HRs, the man they called “Kong” would never sniff the Hall of Fame.  He received only 3 votes in his first year of eligibility, removing him from all future ballots; he became the first player with more than 400 HRs to miss out on Cooperstown.

  • Buddy

    “Kong” was a ton in 1979. 48 bombs.

  • Jedi

    Yeah, and if could’ve hit for an average like he in did in 1979 (.288) he’d be in Cooperstown.

  • Buddy

    Kingman was the dictionary definition of “one dimensional.” Good power for the era of course, but a rotten defensive player, slower than mud, and he didn’t get on base (.302 career on-base percentage). Still, for some strange reason I really liked him.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Nice job. I’m sure he wishes he played in an era when the Dave Kingmans of the league were as over-paid as the Adam Dunns.

  • Buddy

    If Big Dave had a career .376 onbase percentage and averaged 35 homers a season, he’d be in the Hall.

  • Wasn’t Kingman the guy who hit the ball up into the Metrodome structure that didn’t come down?
    I think he was with the A’s at the time.
    Pretty funny watching the players wait, wait and wait for it to come down.

  • Found it.

    Maybe it came down last year when you know what happened to the roof.

  • Buddy

    I think so Doug. He was fun to watch.

  • Jedi

    He also launched a bomb an estimated 550 feet off of a building on Kenmore St. – not Waveland, not Sheffield, KENMORE! Even Glenallen Hill would’ve been impressed.

    • PackerCubBull

      I think he broke someone’s window doing that.

  • Doc Raker

    You forgot to recap Kingman’s most exciting 3 HR performance to beat the Dodger’s in LA in which launched the famous LaSorda tirade when a reporter ask him the post game question of: “What did you think of Dave Kingman’s performance”.

  • Doc Raker

    Kingman’s low average, big slugging would earn him $10M per in todays market.

  • Buddy

    How about when Kingman sent a dead rat to a sports writer?

  • Doc Raker

    Shame on you Jedi you missed some of Kingman’s most exciting highlights, including his DL stint from a bad back after picking up a suit case. Kingman hated the press.

    • Jedi

      He didn’t do any of that on July 28th. Maybe I needed a “This Date In Cubs History” tag or something…the impetus was because it happened on that day. (Although it was in the excerpt on the main page)

      • lizzie

        I used to put some of my best stuff in those little main page excerpts then wonder why no one ever got the jokes. Took me awhile to realize no one really sees those. If you’re following a Twitter link or RSS feed or email subscription those are direct links and you bypass the front page altogether. (On the other hand it’s also quite possible that everyone sees the excerpts and I’m simply not as funny as I like to think I am.)

      • Jedi

        I kinda thought putting the date as the first line of the post would help too…live and learn I guess.

      • Joe


        The rss feed actually shows the front page excerpt.

      • Buddy

        Maybe you should try a flashing neon sign and signal fires next time?

      • lizzie

        @Joe that clinched it then, I’m just not funny. Good thing I wrapped it up!