- Hit for cycle vs. the Houston Astros on April 16, 1972.
- Sprained his ankle on July 15 while being picked off 1st Base vs. Phillies at Candlestick Park, returned to the line-up on July 27 vs. Braves.
- Hit .277 with 5 HRs vs. Los Angeles & .273 with 5 HRs vs. Philadelphia in 1972.
- Home Run tally: 5 each vs. Los Angeles & Philadelphia; 4 vs. Atlanta, Cincinnati & Houston; 3 vs. St. Louis; 2 vs. Montreal & Pittsburgh.
- Wore #45 in 1972
- After the season, Dave played in the Arizona Instructional League.
1972 Giants Scorecard excerpt
...For the Giants he has played in the outfield, as a replacement for the injured Willie McCovey at first base, and as a third baseman. His first base play was outstanding--agile, quick and steady, helped along by his size and enormous reach for thrown balls.
Actually, Dave is the complete athlete as well as the composite ball player. Overlooked, except by those on the field, is his running speed. possibly, only Bobby Bonds of the Giants can outrun him, and that may develop an argument some day, too. Dave devours the ground with his long strides. When he is running out a three base hit it is a delight to watch him. To older Giants he is a reminder of the fabled Bobby Thomson, a mite taller but with the same actions and style. A second Thomson would be a great Giant.
by: JACK HANLEY, San Mateo Times
March 10, 1972
PHOENIX--Numerically the 1972 roster of the Giants will break down the same way it did last year--10 pitchers, 3 catchers, 6 infielders and 6 outfielders. The equal division of infielders-outfielders is a mathematical convenience.
Actually, the infield-outfield ration probably will be 7-5 with one of the infielders, in this case Dave Kingman, capable of double duty. But Charlie Fox hopes that Kingman will confine most of his activity this season at third base.
That would make the manager of the Giants very happy. Kingman at third base has been the great experiment of the Fox this spring. It was the only spot in the lineup he could find for Kingman's big bat, a weapon that is too valuable to keep on the bench.
BUT THE jury is still out on Kingman's third base glove notwithstanding encouraging marks it has been given by its No. 1 critic and instructot, Joe Amalfitano, an old third base hand. It's the duty of glove instructors like Amalfitano to pump spring confidence into young men, such as Kingman, playing a new position for the first time.
The experiment of Kingman at third isn't one that involves just two players--Kingman and Alan Gallagher, the team's regular third baseman the past two seasons, the experiment goes far beyond that.
Its success or failure will dictate Fox's overall strategy for the 1972 campaign. The strategy at the moment has Willie Mays batting leadoff, Kingman No. 3 where the captain of the Giants has been a fixture for two decades except for occasional leadoff roles.
Moving Mays up from the No. 3 slot to No. 1 potentially can pay rich dividends because Mays, even though he will be 41 in a couple of months, still knows how to worry a pitcher once he gets on base.
ADDITIONALLY, when Mays is resting this season, as every 41-year-old must, Fox won't have to juggle several men in the batting lineup. All he'll have to do is insert Jimmy Rosario's name in the leadoff spot. Rosario is the outfield swing man who played errorless in center last year when Mays was resting.
Thus, the far reaching importance of the great experiment of Kingman at third base becomes a kind of chain reaction. And the third base phase of the experiment is just part of the pressure then 23-year-old Kingman is undergoing.
He does have a big bat but he still must prove that he can hit in the No. 3 pressure position. Even Bobby Bonds, at 23, found it too tough three seasons ago--the last time a Giant manager put Mays in a leadoff batting role.
by: RON FRIMRITE, Sports Illustrated
March 20, 1972
Six-foot six-inch Dave Kingman of the San Francisco Giants is the sort of baseball player who calls to mind the kind of hyperbole that has been all too infrequent in spring training prose since the celebrated appearance so many years ago of another Giant giant, Clint Hartung.
Hartung? Yes, great big fellow. Burst on tlae scene right after World War 11. Ran like a greyhound. Could throw balls through armor plate and hit them beyond the horizon. A cinch for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, there just didn't seem to be any position for him to play. And there was the little matter of the curveball. His career, alas, was brief and lamentably undistinguished.
Kingman? Yes, great big fellow, only 23 years old, Tremendous throwing arm. Hits home runs that are conversation pieces wherever he plays. Fast? Why, the only mart on his team he can't beat in a footrace is probably the fastest man in the game, Bobby Bonds. And though it is true the Giants are having trouble finding a place for him to play and that be has been known to swing at and miss a curveball, all comparisons with the earlier "phenom" seem inappropriate, if tempting. For in Kingman the Giants are convinced they have the next great power bitter in baseball.
There can be no question about his power. Last year, in New York's Shea Stadium, Kingman hit a ball that cleared the bullpen in left field and struck the Giants' team bus parked outside. On a rare windless day in Candlestick Park, Kingman broke his bat on a pitch and still hit it over the right-field fence. While playing for the Giants' farm team in Phoenix, Kingman in batting practice hit a ball over the 55-foot-high fence in dead center field, 430 feet from home plate. In Little Rock, Ark. one of his home runs broke a window in the National Guard armory across the street from the ball park.
In his first major league game he pinch hit a grand-slam homer against Pittsburgh. The next day, in his first official start, he hit two home runs off the Pirates' Dock Ellis. His first hit after returning to the lineup after spending 12 days in a hospital recuperating from an appendectomy was a triple. His two-run homer against San Diego on the last day of the season clinched the Western Division championship for the Giants. Eighteen of his 32 hits as a late-season player were for extra bases. Before he was summoned to the aid of the parent team, he hit 26 home runs and drove in 99 runs in only 105 games with Phoenix. And Phoenix plays in a ball park about the size of a Los Angeles suburb.
Ah yes, but where to play him? Kingman was drafted by the California Angels as a pitcher after he finished high school in Mt. Prospect, Ill. He went instead to the University of Southern California, where he pitched his freshman and sophomore years and was moved to the outfield his junior year to take advantage of what Coach Rod Dedeaux considered near-Ruthian potential. He was an outfielder his first year as a professional at Amarillo, a first baseman for Phoenix part of last year and both a first baseman and an outfielder for the Giants the rest of it. And now San Francisco Manager Charlie Fox wants him to be a third baseman.
"It's really crazy," says Kingman, who will happily play anywhere for the privilege of swinging his bat. "I've never been on a team before that needed a third baseman."
For that matter, the Giants are not all that desperate for a third baseman. In Alan Gallagher they have one who hit .277 last season. But as Fox says, "I've got to get that bat of his in the lineup someplace." If the experiment works and Willie McCovey's fragile knees hold together long enough for him to play a season at first base, the Giant infield will be, at least physically, head and shoulders above the opposition. And if Kingman can play third, he will bat third, just ahead of McCovey, whose ominous presence in the on-deck circle could protect the inexperienced Kingman from the junk pitches that cause him trouble.
"You do not take a chance on walking the man who hits ahead of Willie McCovey," says Fox.
The question remains: Can Kingman do it? He certainly doesn't look like a third baseman, but Coach Joey Amalfitano, who has been tutoring him, regards him as an apt pupil. "He learns fast," says Amalfitano, "and his biggest asset is his quickness and agility. He has fine lateral movement and he can come in on a ball. I say he's gonna make it."
Kingman admits he has difficulty moving in quickly enough on slow ground balls, but he feels this is a defect that can be cured with experience. Besides, he would rather play in the infield than the outfield.
"Actually, I'm just happy to be on the ball club," he says. "In college, Rod had trouble convincing me to make the shift from pitching. The real selling point was being able to play every day. Now I'm looking forward to playing just one position, but I suppose I'll have to put up with the idea of moving around a little." Chances are he will. Since Willie Mays and the habitually infirm McCovey cannot be expected to play every game and Kingman can substitute in both the outfield and the infield.
Kingman himself has never played a full season in any one place as a professional. He joined Amarillo after USC won the college World Series and hit 15 home runs in 60 games there. He was called up from Phoenix two-thirds into last season and bad been with the Giants about a month when he "woke up one morning with a gut ache." It was, in fact, acute appendicitis, and it was feared he might be lost to the team for the rest of the season. Instead, he was back in the lineup, "taped up pretty good," within two weeks.
There are those in the Giant organization who think Kingman might profit from another year in the minor leagues. But Kingman is not among them and neither, apparently, is Fox, a manager who won his division championship last year by placing faith in his younger players-notably Chris Speier at shortstop. Kingman has no illusions about instant stardom, however.
"I have many, many weaknesses as a hitter," he acknowledges. "I have trouble with off-speed pitches, and I'm working on that. I have always been aggressive at the plate. Now I'm learning more about waiting for my pitch. Screwballs bother me. I'm still not sure who bad the advantage the first time around the pitchers or me. But we'll see."
Indeed, Kingman is seeing an inordinate number of slow-breaking pitches this spring. And there have been occasions when be has been made to look awkward.
Fox expects a hitter who swings with Kingman's gusto to strike out often, but he also looks forward to those occasions when contact is made. "Sure, they'll get him a few times," says Fox conspiratorially, "but then watch out."
If Kingman has them watching out often enough, he can be an enormously popular athlete in San Francisco, a community that loves new faces. It may be true, as the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen has suggested, that when a San Franciscan thinks of the name Kingman, be thinks of the watercolorist Dong, not the slugger Dave.
But the way slugger Dave is being talked about in these fanciful days of spring, when "phenoms" are cultivated, that too could change.
by: LINDA HAMILTON, Tri-City Herald (Pasco-Kennewick-Richland Washgington)
May 21, 1972
Chances are, if you watched yesterday's Giants-Braves baseball game at Candlestick Park on NBC-TV, you noticed announcers Tony Kubek and Curt Gowdy trying to top each other with superlatives about San Francisco's 23-year-old first baseman, Dave Kingman.
"He has a chance to become one of the game's superstars," they said.
They talked about Kingman on the pre-game show, made light of the fact third baseman Alan Gallagher was lucky Kingman was 6-foot-6 so he could stop a wild throw from going for extra bases (Instant replay on that).
They talked about the big man's speed coming out of the batter's box as he came within two steps of beating out a hard-hit ground ball (Instant replay).
They swooned about his fielding ability as he gloved a wide throw and kept his foot on the bag for the out (Instant replay).
Kubek cited the dangers of playing third base on artificial turf when a power hitter like Kingman is up. A hard ground ball hit Brave Darrell Evans in the stomach and bounded away for a hit (Instant Replay).
They wondered if Kingman would stay in the game after Brave leadoff man Felix Milan stomped on his right achilles tendon to beat out a hit. The instant replay showed Kingman stretching for the ball his right toe on the bag--completely out of Milan's way--then showed Milan come down hard on the ankle and Kingman fall down.
Later, "I'd send him," said Kubek a few seconds before Kingman stole second in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was his 10th stolen base in 11 tried this year, putting him among the national leaders, and the throw from catcher Earl Williams gave Kingman an extra base when it hit him and went into the outfield.
The instant replay showed the towering kid sliding into second, hitting the bag and bounding up in the same motion, and lighting out for third without hesitation.
With all of that happening yesterday, Gowdy and Kubek just didn't have time to tell you that the 6-foot-6 fledgling superstar Dave Kingman was born in Pendleton.
"Dr. Jack W. Grondahl got Dave off to a good start!" said Arthur Kingman, Dave's father, who is completing 31 years with United Air Lines.
"I was transferred to Pendleton in March , 1943. In September, 1944, Nell Marie arrived. In December, 1948, David arrived," said the proud papa, who recently visited with Dave in San Francisco.
Dave was born on Dec. 21 at St. Anthony's Hospital. The family home was at 409 N.W. 14th.
"Dave does not have any memories of Pendleton--he was too young when we moved," said the elder Kingman.
Arthur Kingman was transferred to Denver in 1951 and to Los Angeles in July 1954--just in time for Dave to get started in Little League. In 1962, the family moved to Mount Prospect, Ill., United's headquarters. It's a village of about 45,000 six miles northwest of O'Hare International Airport, and the Kingmans still live there.
"By the time we moved to our present address," said Arthur Kingman, "it appeared that Dave had an exceptional pitching arm and could hit well too."
Throughout high school, Dave was known for his pitching. After all, with a blazing fastball and the reach that goes with being 6-6, Kingman made opposing preps want to hide. he played with a pretty good American Legion outfit too.
In his final high school game, Dave pitched a two-hitter and hit four home runs.
The major leagues had an eye on him from the start, but Dave turned down two offers and went to the University of Southern California. He played with the NCAA-sanctioned Pan Alaska Goldpanners in Fairbanks during the summer.
In the fall of 1969, USC coach Rod Dedeaux tried what Dave's father called "the Big Gamble." Dedeaux took Kingman, who had a 1.32 earned run average for 85 innings, 87 strikeouts and an 11-4 record in Pac-8 ball as a sophomore, and made him an outfielder.
It paid off. Despite a broken arm and a sprained right knee he incurred the following spring in a collision with the USC centerfielder, Dave hit .445, was named Most Valuable Player, and helped his team win the College World Series at Omaha, Neb., in June.
And, he was the number one draft in the nation.
Once the college season was over, Dave happily signed with the Giants. He spent a little time in Class AA at Amarillo, where he hit .295 and hit 15 home runs. He moved to Phoenix and the Pacific Coast League last year, hit a league-leading 26 homers and was brought to the majors on the last Friday in July.
He popped out as a pinch-hitter in his first at-bat Friday night, hit a grand slam home run and a double Saturday and two two-run homers Sunday for nine RBI. Later, after an attack of appendicitis sidelined him for a mere three weeks, Dave hit the home run that put San Francisco into the playoffs against the Pirates.
In Phoenix during spring training this year, I told Dave that Bruce Kison of Pasco would have been his neighbor if the Kingmans has stayed in Oregon. "Oh, yeah," said Dave with a grimace, "I remember that guy."
This season, with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey holding down the outfield and first base, Kingman was switched to third base--all 215 pounds of him. He did well, but McCovey's injury sent him back to first, where he's been starting and batting cleanup since.
He now leads the major leagues in runs-batted-in with 26, is among the home run leaders with seven, among the triples leaders with three and among the stolen base leaders with 10. He is credited with a 500-foot home run (last year) at Shea Stadium.
And when the Giants traded Willie Mays last week, it proved that it was no idle rumor when a friend in the Giant front office told Dave's High School coach Bill Slayton of Mount Prospect two years ago that Dave would be the next Willie Mays in the Giant lineup.
When Kingman signed his contract two seasons ago, a trade for Mays or McCovey was imminent.
by: WELLS TWOMBLEY, San Francisco Examiner
May 26, 1972
LOS ANGELES -- As a rule, nature designs certain sized human beings to perform certain physical functions and no exceptions are tolerated. All jockeys must be mere wisps of flesh. To be tall and thin is to invite suspicion. No preofessional foiotball player should be too short. Otherwise reportes will not let him forget how little altitude his haircut rises to. There is a stereotype for everything in life and athletics is not exempt.
Consider the baseball player, what a creature of comformity he is. Catchers must be built like beef cattle and have an intellect to match. Outfielders must leap and dart like deer, with the exception of the lumbering gorilla they're trying to hide in left. Third basemen must be solid, compact and dreadfully quick. Under no circumstances can they be permitted to look like a basketball player searching for a set of short pants.
This is an artistic outrage, which is why so many jock journalists watched Dave Kingman grope around for ground balls at third base this spring and wrote him off as just another mad training camp experiment. Here was a likely looking lad with a physique that didn't seem complete without a first baseman's mitt dangling from the left hand.
"In the name of mercy, get this boy off third base before a line drive cuts him in half," wrote an insensitive journalist whose name will not be mentioned, except at the top of this column.
That reckless remark was based entirely upon superficial knowledge. How could anyone know that Dave Kingman was such a dazzling natural athlete? He had appeared in only a few games for the San Francisco Giants in late September a year earlier and, while he swung a bat with style and grace, he appeared to be somewhat unsure in the outfield. This was charged off to awkwardness rather than inexperience.
Apologies are hereby extended. The kid can play third base, even at 6-6. Chances are he could also catch, make the pivot at second, pole vault, shoot birdies, throw touchdown passes and ride a winner in the Belmont Stakes. There is even a possibility that when he overcomes a young man's natural shyness, he may even become the Giants' new spiritual leader.
Earlier this week, San Francisco's finest major league baseball team came staggering into Chavez ravine like so many elephants looking for a place to die. They appeared so feeble, so close to death that Jim Murray, the Los Angeles Times' resident humorist, demanded that ralph nader look into a possible case of fraud.
So then, as it so often happens when columnists get cute, Kingman punched out a couple of long home runs and the Giants went on to win two out of three from the Dodgers. Now, of course, cloud-cuckoo land is all wired up about Kingman, who did play college baseball here at USC. For one thing, he came into the Ravine talking like he'd been beating the Dodgers for years.
"Naturally, we were sky-high for this series," he said. "If I'm going to get my hits, I want to get them against Los Angeles. I'd rather beat the Dodgers than anybody. As for playing third base, I'm more comfortable there than I am any place. First base is all right, but I'd rather be at third base and have Big Mac (McCovey) back at first. I hope I never have to shift again.
This is the same kid who was going to die from a line drive in the navel the first time he tried to defend against a right-handed pull hitter. Shows you how little writers really pay attention in the springtime.
"There was never any question in my mind that he would be an outstanding major league player regardless of where he played," said Rod Dedeaux, who holds the chair of baseball at USC. I genuinely hated to take him off the pitching mound because he won 11 games for me as a sophomore. As good a pitcher as he is, I knew that with his bat he'd have to play every day. So I made an outfielder out of him as a junior and I lost him before his senior year. That's the chance you take.
Actually, Dedeaux doesn't seem to take that many chances. He's one of the few college baseball coaches who consistently takes prospects away from professional clubs. When Kingman was a senior back in Prospect, Ill., he threw a one-hitter and hit four home runs in his final high school game. Naturally, the scouts were as thick as narcotics agents at the Mexican border. Before anyone could draft Kingman, there was Dedeaux hauling him away to college by the hand.
"There's another converted pitcher playing centerfield for us this year who can hit the ball every bit as handy as Kingman, " said Dedeaux, rather casually.
Quick, Horace, get the kid's name. Send an agent south with a burlap sack and slip it over his head when dedeaux isn't looking. With $165,000 you're saving on Willie's salary this summer, you ought to be able to make him an offer he can't refuse.
by: BILL BECKER, New York Times
May 28, 1972
LOS ANGELES, May 27 -- King-sized is the word for Dave Kingman, his home runs and his future as a San Francisco Giant.
After the 6-foot-6-inch Kingman's all-round performance this week in the Giants' 2-1 series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, even die-hard Dodger fans conceded that the Giants might have found another superstar to ease the departure of Willie Mays.
The surprisingly agile 23-year-old slugger clouted two homers--including a towering grand slam--and drove in five runs in the first Giant victory. The second night he had two singles, one a perfect bunt, and stole his 11th base in 12 tries. ("They don't expect me to run," sald Dave, "But I can.")
JUST LIKE McCOVEY
While going hitless in the series finale, he assured the Giants' victory with a decisive fielding play at third base, a position he is still learning.
But Kingman is an A student, Charlie Fox, the Giant manager stressed, "He's done a great job no matter where I've put him," said Fox, who hasn't has too many happy moments in 1972.
At midweek, Kingman led the majors in homers (10) and runs batted in (32) in 39 games. He also had 39 strikeouts, but people were saying that he looks as awesome strinking out as the ailing Willie McCovey.
When Willie gets back, he and the righthanded Kingman should provide an outstanding 1-2 punch. Observers have agreed young Dave may not hit .300 he was .248 as of Thursday, but he can rattle the most distant fences.
Just barely out of the rookie category, Kingman is beginning to justify the "can't miss" prediction of this coach, Rod Dedeaux, at the University of Southern California. Dedeaux, who also coached Tom seaver, the Mets' ace, called Kingman "The best prospect I've ever had."
STOLE FIVE BASES
The Giants grabbed Kingman in the 1970 special draft and signed him for a $75,000 bonus after his junior year at USC. He was the pitcher-outfielder at USC, but the Giants converted him to first base in half a season at Amarillo (15 homers, .295 average in 60 games).
Last year at Phoenix where teammates called him "The Hammer," Dave ripped Pacific Coast League pitching for 26 homers and a .278 average in 105 games.
The Giants brought him up and he hit six homers and again batted .278 in 41 games. He also stole five bases in five attempts.
His Phoenix manager, Davenport, the ex-Giant third baseman, had noted Kingman's strong throwing arm and recommended to Fox that Dave make the transition to third baseman, despite his height.
Kingman is no ordinary 6 1/2-footer. At Mt. Prospect High school, he starred in basketball and baseball and played both split end and safety on the football team. He turned down several Big Ten scholarship offers to come to USC because he had lived in Southern California earlier and wanted to concentrate on baseball.
A lithe 210 pounds, Kingman looks more a basketball player until he steps on the field. Then his quick reflexes and coordinated assert themselves. Dave is a natural--they're just coming in bigger sizes these days. A better nickname for him might be "Big Cat."
His attitude, indicated in an interview during the Dodger series, also is compelling. He would prefer first base to third base, especially until McCovey returns. But, he added, "I'll play anywhere I can help the club."
"We've got to turn this thing around and start winning."
As for the Dodgers, who once scouted and rejected him as a pitcher, Dave has the proper Giant scorn, "If I had to collect all my hits and put them all together, I'd want them to be against the Dodgers," he said. "I'd rather beat them than anybody."
by: STEVE CASSADY
May 31, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO - A pennant waving in Candlestick Park's famous breeze is not the destiny of the 1972 Giants. But a star named Dave Kingman is rising in the Giants' east, promising the San Francisco fans a measure of redemption for what threatens to be a disastrous season.
While the Giants rebuild around their emerging hero, Kingman is tangible proof of their future glory. At least that is the opinion of some people who should know.
"The stuff is there" says Giants batting instructor Hank Sauer, "He has great potential".
Kingman, at 23, is beginning to realize the "stuff" that became evident last year when he hit 26 home runs and drove 99 runs in a half a year at Phoenix, combined with six homers and 24 RBIs in just 41 games with San Francisco.
Leads the League Through last night's game, Kingman leads the Major Leagues in home runs with 12 and in RBIs with 35, even though his batting average has fallen below .250.
Sauer sees no cause for alarm in Kingman's sub-standard batting average: "He's more or less just a baby feeling his way around.
"As soon as he learns the pitchers, what they throw, how they throw, then he's going to come around, batting average-wise.
"If he has a problem right now, it's that he commits himself too fast on a pitch and overswings on the off-speed stuff. But that doesn't mean he can't hit a particular pitch, just that he opens up too soon sometimes. He'll learn to hold back with experience. He's no dummy, he'll learn fast."
Kingman has been a defensive gypsy since joining the Giants July 30 of last year. H alternated between first base and the outfield last season, and has played first and third base so far in 1972. It's not that they're trying to find a place he can play, but that he's so versatile he's the logical choice to cauterize the wounds in the Giants sometimes painful defense.
"Dave's greatest asset in the field," says Joe Amalfitano, the infield coach for San Francisco, "is his quickness.
"He can compensate for any problems caused by inexperience because he anticipates well and can develop a play right now. They've been testing him on bunts, and he only messed up one that I can remember. And that was after coming back to third base from playing forty games at first.
"For changing positions, he's done a helluva job since he's come up. He's got a great arm. His only problem is that he tends to be too quick. With his reflexes, he can take more time than he does. His errors are overeager ones. Experience will change that. Give him two years at one position, and he'll be among the league's best."
Power and Speed
At 6-6 and 215 pounds, Kingman looks like an unlikely baserunner, in thirteen attempts this year Dave has stolen successfully eleven times. Compare this to the Giants' resident mercury Bobby Bonds, who has been caught once in eight tries, and it becomes apparent that Dave Kingman is the rare power guy who can run.
"Dave's an instinctive runner with foot speed." says Johnny McNamara who directs traffic at third base for the Giants. "He needs to work on his sliding some. There's alot of times he slides too close to the bag and tears his ankles up. But he is a smart baserunner."
"He's got tremendous running speed," adds Sauer, "and with those big arms and legs , you've got to believe the second baseman or shortstop is going to think a little before he makes the tag.
Those around Kingman agree that he is every bit as good as his home run and RBI statistics indicate and that he does, or soon will, excel in every aspect of the game. This luminous talent has not been lost on the opposition either.
Menace to Pitchers
Jim Brewer of the Dodgers, possibly baseball's best relief pitcher, sees Kingman as nothing short of menacing to opposing pitchers.
"Best young hitter I've seen. He's got a good, sound swing and doesn't go for many bad pitches.
"He sees the ball real good. The whole thing about hitting to me is seeing the ball, and this is the thing he is doing. It's hard to fool him; he may miss the ball because he's overswinging, but it's hard to move him out of balance to where he can't make contact. When a hitter stays in position like that, he going to hit the ball."
Claude Osteen agrees with his teammate: "An aggressive hitter. He's as good-looking a power hitter as there is today."
And a man who has been around long enough to see young phenoms come and go, Maury Wills, has this to say about Kingman: "Already, he's an outstanding hitter, a fantastic hitter to be so young.
"Where he goes from here depends on his mental approach to the game," says Wills, implying that Kingman's physical credentials are not in question.
Commenting on the fact that Kingman hit two home runs in a recent Dodger-Giant game, then led off the next game with a successful drag bunt, Wills continues:
"It shows you how versatile this young man is. Besides his power he has outstanding running speed."
And, he added, revealing a trace of a smile: "There's room in this game for a bunt by a home-run hitter."
by: BOB FRISK, Daily Herald (Chicago suburbs)
June 2, 1972
ON A CLEAR DAY you can stand at the corner of Fairview and Highland streets in Mount Prospect, strain just a little, and see home plate at the Prospect High School baseball diamond.
You may not be able to actually see the plate, but you can at least see the backstop and figure out the rest.
Drive over there some day, stop the car, and look west toward the Prospect diamond. Now imagine a youngster, just a teenager, standing at that home plate and with one mighty swing of the bat sending a baseball soaring toward that intersection.
Impossible? You can be sure that it happened. It happened on a very hot May day in 1967, and whenever sports buffs get together and recall some of the incredible achievements by area products, they talk about that blast, just one of three mighty blasts that spring afternoon by the same youngster.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who happened to stop by the Prospect High field that May afternoon five years ago that the young man who authored those three prodigious wallops in his final high school game began this May week in 1972 as the major leagues leader in home runs and runs-batted-in.
Dave Kingman, the pride of Prospect High and one of the most talked-about new names in professional baseball as the slugging star of the San Francisco Giants, may have earned his high school reputation as a pitcher but those three home runs in his final prep game certainly should have told us something about his abilities with the bat.
There was one out in the second inning and Prospect was playing Elk Grove. Bob Artemenko, who just completed an outstanding mound career at Northwestern University, was working for Elk Grove. Bob delivered. Kingman delivered.
"I can still remember it," recalls Herald sportswriter Keith Reinhard, who was covering the game. "It was unbelievable and I've never seen anything quite like it. I remember that a lady was driving up the street in a station wagon and when she saw some of the kids chasing the ball she got out and picked it up for them. It was rolling uphill, up Highland Avenue there near Fairview, at least 600 feet from home plate
They estimate it's 510 feet from home plate to Forest, the street that runs north-south along the field and intersects Highland. Kingman put another one out there on that same afternoon, added a third home run, and then sat down in Prospect's 20-2 rout. In addition to spinning a two-hitter and striking out 10 in his mound work, he finished the day with four runs scored and six runs-batted-in.
Despite that spectacular finish to his high school career, despite a .339 average as a Prospect senior and a .291 mark that summer in American Legion baseball, it was as a pitcher, a very effective pitcher, that most people remember Dave in his younger days. He had seven victories and 121 strikeouts in 67 innings as a Prospect senior in 1967. The scouts watched every move.
"Although he also played some first base, he was mainly a pitcher, even when he started out at about 8 years old in California," his proud father Art, who still lives in Mount Prospect, said this week. "Dave played 10-inch semi-hardball in a park recreation league in Hawthorne, in the south bay area of Los Angeles, and then went into actual Little League baseball.
"He was always well coordinated, this developed quite early with him, and when he was 9, they thought he should play with the older group, the 10-11-12 year olds. At the tryouts they allowed you four actual swings of the bat. I remember how Dave fouled off the first two pitches and then hit two out of the park."
Art Kingman can't remember missing a game Dave played in high school, and the Kingmans have already been to San Francisco three times this year. Art works for United Airlines in the charter department.
Although he's always taken an interest in his son's baseball career, Art stresses that the credit for developing Dave's early skills in the sport belong to a former neighbor in California.
"We had a friend, Chuck Gibbon, in Hawthorne, who played some in the Cardinal farm system." the elder Kingman recalls, "and he was a graduate of Pepperdine where he was an outstanding athlete in every sport. Actually, he had more to do with teaching Dave the early fundamentals of the game than anyone. He really worked with the boy."
The Kingman family moved to Mount Prospect in the fall of 1962 and it didn't take long for Dave to establish a name for himself in area baseball circles, first in the Mount Prospect Boys Baseball program and then with Prospect High and the Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights American Legion teams.
He had size, speed, and tremendous strength. He was something special, very special. Scouts flocked to the Prospect games, with every major league club represented during that spring of 1967. They came to watch him throw. There were no doubts. He had the major league arm, the fast ball shot out of a gun, even though that gun tended to go off target at times.
That was in 1967. Today, Dave Kingman is on the cover of The Sporting News. He's been the subject of a flattering article in Sports Illustrated. He will be profiled in the next issue of Sport magazine. He looks like a good bet to land an All-Star team berth although he will have to count on write-in votes because Bowies Kuhn's computerized ballot missed a few - again.
All this fanfare is not directed at a young pitcher but at a young man who has played first and third base this spring, can play any outfield position, and who could be rushed into emergency mound duty if the occasion demanded. But they're not writing about his strikeouts. They're writing about his home runs.
When Dave was pitching (11-4 as a soph) at the University of Southern California, coach Rod Dedeaux, who has sent dozens of his players to the major leagues, though this 6-foot-6 youngster batted too well to only play once a week.
Dave had wanted to be a pitcher all his life and was hesitant about moving," Dedeaux said, "but I told him he had a chance to be a great one - I mean somebody like Musial or Mays or Aaron - and he changed."
In his first major league game last summer he pinch-hit a grand-slam homer against Pittsburgh. The next day, in his first official start, he hit two home runs off the Pirates' Dock Ellis. His folks were there for the excitement.
This sudden and dramatic charge to professional prominence - as a hitter- may come as a little surprising to anyone who followed Dave Kingman at Prospect High School and thought they were watching a future major league pitcher.
Then you think back to that May afternoon in 1967 and Dave's progress with the bat suddenly isn't that astonishing.
How can anything surprise you from someone who once sent a ball rolling up Highland Street?.
by: PAT FRIZZELL, The Sporting News
June 3, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.- "Everybody was high-spirited and gave a 200 percent." Dave Kingman said after the Giants failed in a determined attempt to break their losing streak.
This was typical of the dedicated outlook of the exceptional 6-6 athlete who led the major leagues in runs batted in through the first month. Except that Kingman himself gave 300 percent, as usual.
His comment came after a game with the Reds in which 23-year-old Dave threw himself so desperately toward first base wile running out an eight-inning ground ball that he tumbled head over heels. His head struck the AstroTurf and his helmet smacked the bridge of his nose, bruising it.
Manager Charlie Fox, trainer Leo Hughes and other Giants dashed onto the Candlestick carpet, fearing the worst, but Kingman remained in the game. He admitted afterwards he was a bit dizzy, yet Dave's main concern was the club's defeat.
More and more, it has become apparent that the tallest Giant is a remarkable baseball player and also a remarkable young man.
What major leaguer is more versatile?
Originally a pitcher, Kingman became an outfielder, than a frst baseman, a third baseman, a first baseman again and a third baseman again. He already has played four positions for San Francisco.
The Giants' experiment of converting Dave into a third baseman this spring proved successful. He played the first four National League games at third without committing an error.
But after Willie McCovey suffered a broken arm in San Diego April 18, Fox made the logical move of stationing Kingman on first. He stayed there until May 21, when he went back to third and Ed Goodson took first.
Sure He Can Play Third
"My experience at third base in spring training and the first few games of the league season has convinced me I can play there'" Dave said. "I learned quite a bit about the position, with help from several people. If I should go back to third, I'll feel much more comfortable than when I first tried it."
Nobody can remember a 6-6 third baseman. Old-timers have pointed to Bobby Thomson and Dick Gyselman, but they were shorter. Yet Kingman, surprisingly versed already in the nuances of the hot corner, is back there again.
Dave as a first baseman, provides the kind of target infielders like. He broke into the Giant's lineup at first late in July last season, when McCovey was out, but he spent much of his 1971 time in the outfield.
"The main thing," Fox said this spring, "is to have Dave's bat in the lineup. That's why we wanted him to learn third base, with McCovey playing first."
The manager's desire to keep Kingman clouting was understandable. On the second day of the season, Dave hit for the cycle, driving in six runs, in the Astrodome.
The modest young slugger hadn't even heard of the term, he disclosed, until he dashed into the dugout after his seventh-inning home run off Houston's Wade Blasingame.
"Chris Speier told me 'You've hit for the cycle' Kingman said, "and I didn't even know what he meant. I'd never heard it called that. And I'd never hit a home run, triple, double, and single in one game before, even in college.
Red Hot in First Month
Those six RBIs were only two short of the San Francisco club record and one more than he produced in a game with Pittsburgh last season. They jumped Kingman into the league lead. He held this while he banged out seven home runs, four doubles and three triples in the first month. Dave's batting average wasn't phenomenal, but his slugging percentage certainly was.
Unlike many power hitters, 215-pound Dave possesses real speed. He can turn a double into a triple. He stole his eighth base in nine tries in mid-May. He's the fastest Giant other than blazing Bobby Bonds.
Kingman produced his extra-base hits despite obvious pressure, the result of McCovey's absence from the lineup and the team's string of defeats.
Batting cleanup much of the time and trying to resolutely to lift the slumping San Francisco club, Dave sometimes overswung and frequently struck out.
"It's important for me to relax, be lose and concentrate on the strike zone," he conceded.
The enthusiastic Giant from USC, despite some disappointments, hit more than adequately and fielded efficiently. Extremely receptive to coaching, he improved gradually in his play at first base.
Until late in his first season of Organized Ball, just two years ago, Kingman had (not) tried first.
"I was a pitcher in high school and Legion ball and in my first varsity year at USC," he said. "Then Rod Dedeaux, our USC coach who helped us all so much, moved me to the outfield."
Members of NCAA Champs
Kingman and Jim Barr, the Giants' capable righthanded relief pitcher, were teammates on Dedeaux' NCAA championship team of 1970. Dave played the outfield and batted .353, with eight home runs and 26 RBIs, even though he missed half the season because of a fractured right arm and torn knee ligament suffered in a collision with another player.
It was as an outfielder that Kingman was signed by scout George Genovese following his selection as the Giants' fist choice in the special phase of the June, 1970, free-agent draft. Optioned to Amarillo (Texas), he hit .295 and poled 15 HRs.
When Amarillo's regular first baseman left the team late in the 1970 season, Dave moved to first base. Fitting in at the gateway, he continued to play first for Phoenix (Pacific Coast) last year. He continued to connect, clubbing 26 homers and batting in 99 runs in only half a season.
Summoned to the Giants, Kingman became an instant success. He bludgeoned three home runs, the first a grand slam, in his first four
June 6, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - Dave Kingman had produced the kind of figures that support manager Charlie Fox's preseason prediction that he will be a superstar for the San Francisco Giants.
The 24-year old product of Mount Prospect, Ill., and graduate of USC is leading the National League in the slugging department.
He has 14 home runs, one more than Cincinnati's Johnny Bench. He has 38 runs batted in, three more than Willie Stargell of Pittsburgh.
WHAT IS amazing about this young amazon is that he can play well at third base and first base. He started the season at third but was shifted to first when Willie McCovey was injured. Despite his size (6-6) he is quick and agile and has good hands.
The Giants have been wallowing in the lower confines of the NL's Western Division, but Kingman has been producing daily. Now that McCovey is back, maybe the Giants can at least get out of the basement.
This is Kingman's first full season with the Giants. In 1970, the 6-6 righthander played his first professional baseball at Amarillo, where he hit .295.
Last year he started the season with Phoenix in the Pacific Coast League and was brought u to the Giants late in the season. He finished the season with six homers and a .278 average.
FOX SAID at the start of this season, "This kid had more poise than I've seen in a long time for a rookie".
"He's got talent that hasn't ever been discovered and there's no question in my mind he will be superstar in this game.
Batting coach Hank Sauer has worked closely with Kingman, but he said he hasn't changed Kingman's swing much.
June 6, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Manager Charlie Fox has said that Lanky Dave Kingman will be a superstar.
And the 24-year-old USC graduate is wielding his bat as if he has already attained that status.
Kingman is leading the National League in home runs with 14 - one more than Cincinnati's Johnny Bench - and in the RBIs with 38 three more than Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell.
He has tagged 43 hits in 187 times at the plate for a .230 average.
In the last month he has provided the muscle in the Giants' attempt to climb out of the low rugs of the Western Division. The club's other slugger, Willie McCovey, has been sidelined with a fractured arm, returning to the lineup only the past weekend.
This is Kingman's first full season with the Giants, who meet St. Louis at 8 tonight at Candlestick.
In 1970 the 6-foot-6 righthander played his first professional baseball with Amarillo where he hit .295.
Last year he started the season with Phoenix in the Pacific Coast League and was brought up to the Giants late in the season. He finished the season with six homers and a .278 average.
Fox said at the start of this season, "The kid had more poise than I've seen in a long time for a rookie.
He's got talent that hasn't even been discovered and there's no question in my mind he will be a superstar in this game."
With McCovey back in the lineup, Kingman has switched from first base to third.
The fact that he is 6-foot-6 has not hampered his defensive play at third. His quickness, agility and good hands have made him an infield asset where the drives and grounders come ablistering.
Kingman is most happy when McCovey is in the lineup because he bats just ahead of Willie. Pitchers must give him good pitches in an attempt to keep the bases as empty as possible when McCovey lumbers up to the plate.
Batting coach Hank Sauer has worked closely with Kingman, but he said he hasn't changed Kingman's swing much.
At first, Sauer said, Kingman had a tendency to chase outside pitches and try to pull them.
But Sauer said he has been overcoming this minor flaw.
And it is certain opposing pitchers realize this.
by: ARNOLD HANO, Sport Magazine
Giant Manager Charley Fox coos lovingly about the potential of his awesome- looking young prodigy
The great drama--"How to Build a Third Baseman Out of Six and a Half Feet of Clay"--finished its road show on March 30 and, after a two-week delay, opened its first season. For five performances the star of the show won rave reviews, for the power of his portrayal rather than for how convincing he was in the title role. Then, as fate would have it, an injury to a supporting player forced the suspension of the show.
What I'm talking about is a young man named David Kingman--that's how his S- 2 Louisville Slugger is signed-and how a leprechaun named Charley Fox decided to turn Kingman into a third baseman. At 6-6 and 215 pounds, Kingman was much too big to play third, according to the experts. A San Francisco writer said, during a Giants' spring training game: "Brooks Robinson's job is safe." Kingman was not about to replace Robinson or even Pete Ward in the hearts and minds of third base lovers. But that same writer also said, "Kingman's not with the Giants because of his glove. He's up here because of his bat."
So Dave Kingman, 22 years old, with never an inning of third base behind him, big league or Little League, opened the season for the Giants at third. In the second game against Houston, Fox smiled with pleasure at his wisdom in getting Kingman into the lineup; the new third baseman drove in six runs with a homer, a triple, a double and a single (they used to call it "hitting for the cycle;" they don't seem to anymore) to lead the Giants to a 10-6 victory. More or less incidentally, David Kingman committed no errors in the field.
And then, in the season's fifth game, first baseman Willie McCovey broke his arm and the hearts of his San Francisco countrymen. Fox had to forget his grand experiment for a while, maybe two or three months. He shifted Kingman to first, putting last year's third baseman, Alan Gallagher, back into the lineup. But that doesn't mean the experiment is over; when McCovey returns Kingman will, more than likely, head back obediently to third.
With or without third base, Dave Kingman is a story. He's the Horatio Alger youngster who flies in from the hick town just in time to dress for the big game and a day later starts to challenge Babe Ruth's place in history. But then cruel fate strikes and the young hero is rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. A mere 11 games later, still weak, he returns and hits a single, double and triple, Then comes the climax on the last day of the regular season, with Willie Mays on base and one of the league's best pitchers, Dave Roberts, on the mound. Horatio Alger hits a ball out of the park and wins a divisional title for his club. The landlord has been thwarted, the mortgage paid.
That's just the way it was for young Horatio Alger Kingman, this Goliath of a David. And the details of his dramatic appearance on the baseball scene last year hardly lessen the storybook quality.
On the night of July 29, 1971, Dave Kingman hit a home run in Spokane, where he was outfielding for the Phoenix Giants of the Pacific Coast League. This was home run number 26. With any luck at all, Kingman would break Andre Rodgers' home-run record of 31, set when the Phoenix club played in a bandbox. In other words, Kingman was becoming about as famous as your local barber. Still, hitting home runs at Phoenix takes some doing. The new Phoenix park is only slightly smaller than Yellowstone. To hit a home run, the ball has to travel 360 feet at the foul lines, and considerably farther around the rim of the outfield fence. The fence is higher than the Berlin Wall; a man would get a nosebleed just sitting on its top. A desert wind blows in most of the time. But Kingman is one of those phenomenally strong athletes. He looks skinny, but when his brief batting stroke connects, the baseball explodes. They will be measuring his home runs a long long time and a long long distance. At Phoenix, his general manager Rosy Ryan said 'of Kingman: "He turns that wind around."
For whatever it's worth, Kingman was on his way to setting a Phoenix home run record.
Not quite. What he was on his way to a few hours after that 26th home run on July 29 was San Francisco, and a major-league debut with the parent Giants.
His plane from Spokane arrived late. He got to the ballpark in time to rush onto the field for the National Anthem. Then he found a seat on the bench, figuring that's where he'd be for a week or so, until he'd learned his way around. Around the bench, that is.
After all, he was just a kid. He'd hit but .278 at Phoenix. He'd struck out a lot. He wasn't the most polished outfielder in the world, and when he played first base he posed no threat to Hal Chase or even Charley Chase. But another Charley, Charley Fox, is a leprechaun, a magician. He does things with less talent than any manager in the game. He practices the power of positive winking. He winks away errors, he blinks away disasters. Let us jump about a bit. Before that last game of spring training for the Giants in Palm Springs, on March 30 of this year, Dave Kingman went through his usual chores. Coach Joe Amalfitano hit dozens of groundballs his way, and Kingman gloved them and threw them in the general direction of first base, where manager Charley Fox had donned a mitt. One throw would fly ten feet--over Fox's head. The next would bounce ten feet in front and five feet to the side. A third would dip and curve like a Marichal screwball. But eventually one throw came in hard and true, and Charley Fox caught it and chirped across the infield to Dave Kingman: "You are a thing of beauty!"
Maybe that is how Charley Fox does it. Blarney baseball.
So the day Kingman joined the Giants, on July 30, 1971, Fox removed an aching Willie McCovey in a late inning, and let Kingman play a few innings and have one time at bat. Kingman popped to second base, which did nothing except break the ice. And the next day Kingman was the starting first baseman.
"You've got to hand it to Charley Fox," says Kingman today. "He doesn't mind starting young players."
That second day, Bobby Bonds reached third, Tito Fuentes reached second and righthander Dave Giusti, the Pirate palmballing relief ace, found himself facing lefthanded hitting Ken Henderson. Giusti walked Henderson on purpose, to work on righthanded Dave Kingman. With the bases loaded, Giusti threw Kingman a palmball, his famous out pitch, and that's what Kingman did. He hit it out, for a grand slam home run. He also hit a double for another run, and the Giants won, 15-11. Without Kingman's five runs, the Giants would have lost, 11-10, and since the Giants ended up beating the Dodgers by a single game, you might say Dave Kingman's first start won the division title for his club.
That is how Dave Kingman broke in. The next day he hit two home runs off Dock Ellis. Kingman does not know the reason for the binge. He will not dig deeply into his feelings, because they are his feelings, and be keeps a distance between himself and the probing reporter.
So when you ask how he felt those first days in the majors, you get the cliches. "I was on Cloud Nine," he says of his grand slam. Of the next two home runs, he says, "The adrenalin glands were running. You see the ball real well. Something seems to happen."
Dave Kingman is indeed a thing of beauty. Although not until he hits the ball. He bends over crablike, his legs wide planted. It looks uncomfortable, but you don't judge a hitter by his stance, as Al Simmons or Stan Musial could have told you. Kingman takes a short step with his front foot, but not until the ball has been released. His problem has been unloading too quickly. So he keeps the front foot still until the ball is in on him, and then he strides briefly and explodes. And the crablike stance changes as he brings his whole body into the ball. It reminds you of Mantle and Killebrew, the way the ball jets off his bat.
Pitchers didn't know what to throw him. Today they throw him offspeed pitches. Then, they threw him the extra-base pitch. Kingman had four home runs, two doubles and a triple before he hit his first major-league single, in his tenth game. At the end of the 1971 season, he had 32 hits in 41 games with the Giants and 18 of them were for extra bases-ten doubles, two triples, and six home runs. It is silly to speak of his slugging average on a month-plus of play, but let's be silly. Kingman slugged at a .557 clip. Joe Torre, third best in the league, had a .555. Kingman may be on his way to astonishing slugging figures, even if he never hits for average. And for all this talk about not hitting for average, Kingman did bat .278 in those 41 games.
Kingman did it under terrible pressure, and he did it despite that appendectomy.
On August 31, in a 9-0 win over Atlanta, Kingman had himself two singles and a double. The next morning, he says, "I woke with a gut ache. It got worse. I went to the park and took batting practice, but I could hardly stand. Finally I told Charley Fox I couldn't make it."
Fox rushed Dave to the hospital. Kingman's diseased appendix was out before the game was over.
In another season, he might have sat out the remainder of the year. But this wasn't another season. The day after Kingman's appendectomy, McCovey cut his left hand fielding a groundball, and took eight stitches. Dick Dietz placed his head in the way of a Jack Billingham fastball and was honored with 13 stitches. The team was sick, tired, tense, and the Dodgers were crawling up their back. The Giants lost seven straight.
So on September 13, after missing 11 games, Kingman returned. "I was feeling very weak," he says. He hammered a single, double and triple. He had a double the next day; he had a double the next day. On September 19, the team won for only the third time in 14 games, and Kingman had two of the Giants' six hits. He also stole a base. Suddenly he had become more than another big bat in the lineup. For years the Giants have had big bats. But nobody had given them the inspirational lift clubs need.
Then came Dave Kingman. He peaked on the last day of the season, catching hold of a Dave Roberts pitch and sending it toward the leftfield wall in San Diego. He thought, "I haven't hit it well enough to go out," but then he saw the umpire give the home run sign, and his mind flashed, "That's the one that beats the Dodgers."
If Dave Kingman hadn't won the division title with that first grand slam home run and five RBIs against Pittsburgh, he won it on this last night against San Diego.
Charley Fox's great smiling brain went to work. Where to play the boy. Not the outfield, with Mays, Bonds and Henderson healthy. Not first, with McCovey ditto. Nothing was left except third base, where Alan Gallagher gives it a good try--they don't call him Dirty Al for nothing--but he may never hit for average and he will not hit for power. So a reporter told Kingman during the 1971 stretch drive: "You will be the Giant third baseman in 1972," and Kingman didn't know for sure, but he also didn't not know for sure.
Dave Kingman is versatile. Versatile is a word often used for athletes who can't do anything well, but who scramble about and holler a lot. Jocks of all trades who get traded a lot. Kingman is also versatile, but he brings in something extra, and that is size, strength and that short sweet stroke. He's always had it, even when he was a pitcher, which is what he was all his youth.
His youth began in Pendleton, in the northeast comer of Oregon, but before Kingman could build any memories of the town, the Kingmans moved to Denver, then Los Angeles, then Chicago.
In suburban Chicago, Kingman pitched high school ball and began wearing contact lenses. He says the correction is "very slight." The Califomia Angels drafted him as a pitcher after high school, but Kingman is a young man with a mind of his own. "I wasn't ready to sign a pro contract," he explains. "I wanted to go to the best baseball school in the country- USC."
At USC he pitched, and when he didn't pitch, he played the outfield or first. One season he compiled a 11-4 mark, with a 1.38 ERA. But his coach, Rod Dedeaux, suspected the boy's future lay in his bat.
After USC, the Giants tapped Kingman in the free-agent draft, superscout George Genovese being the man who reported in on Kingman's progress. Kingman was getting ready to go up to Fairbanks, with the Alaskan Panhandlers (a good semipro club that usually winds up at Wichita in the semipro championships) when Genovese got to him first. Instead of Fairbanks, he went to Amarillo in the Texas League, where in 60 games in 1970 he hit .295 and blasted 15 home runs, dividing his time between first base and the outfield. In the outfield at Amarillo, he fielded a miserable .888. It takes some doing, or undoing, to fall below .900 in the outfield. Still, he banged the ball. So they sent him and his 36-inch, 35-36 ounce bat to Phoenix in 1971, where for a short spell it looked as though he was in over his head.
Hank Sauer, Giant batting instructor, came to Phoenix and what he saw appalled him.
"He was lunging at the ball," said Sauer, "overswinging and uppercutting. But other than that, no problems." Which is like saying of a pitcher, he doesn't have much stuff, but boy is he wild.
Sauer and manager Davenport got Kingman to wait longer on pitches. Mainly, they got him to spend a week on the bench. He returned and the first day back he singled, doubled and homered. He batted .340 in a 38 game stretch. Rosy Ryan called him "one of the strongest men I've ever seen, He has a chance of becoming one of the game's great sluggers."
Kingman remained modest. During all that slugging, he said, "I'm striking out too much, and my average isn't nearly what I'd hoped. I'm working at it though, and I think I'm making some progress."
Some? He jumped 70 points in that month-plus, and when the Giants called him up he was hitting .278. You know the rest of the 1971 season. When you put together his 105 games at Phoenix and the 41 at San Francisco, they add up to 32 home runs and 123 runs batted in on a .278 average. Today he'll settle happily for 100 runs batted in, and so will the Giants.
During the winter season, Kingman spent most of his time on National Guard duty, as he does every year. (He passed the National Guard examination, it is said, with the highest score of any applicant to go through the San Francisco area.) He put in a week of winter ball in Arizona, where the Great Experiment began to shape up.
The experiment amused some people. Wells Twombly, a fine writer but a born cynic, called the trial "experimental nonsense" and "a dizzy attempt." Twombly quoted a San Francisco TV man who asked Alan Gallagher, the otherwise incumbent Giant third baseman: "Do you think Kingman can make the adjustment to third base?"
"No," said Gallagher.
Kingman himself thinks he can (and he also thinks, and says, that Alan Gallagher was extraordinarily helpful during the trial run), and so do Joe Amalfitano and Charley Fox. Not that anybody sounds ecstatic, but then you have to remember the main point. If Kingman can continue to hit the way he has, the Giants must have his bat in the lineup, and when McCovey's healthy, third is the only opening. Third base is famous as a position for good-hit, no-field ballplayers, Brooks Robinson notwithstanding.
When Kingman was asked at the beginning of the trial run how he felt about playing third, he didn't really say.
And the feelings that he did express were suspect. "I'm very happy," he said. "I'm very confident so far." The reason he felt so confident on March 30 was that on March 29 manager Charley Fox sat the boy down and very gently told him to stop worrying. Kingman had made two errors the day before and he'd stopped hitting. His confidence had touched bottom. So Fox unloosed his leprechaun nature and told the boy he'd be his starting third baseman. Fox also dropped Kingman from third spot to sixth in the lineup. Explained Fox: "You can't expect him to play third base like this and also hit third. That's asking too much of anybody."
Willie McCovey was the target for Kingman's throws. "He'll screw up a few," said McCovey, before his aim was broken. "We all do. He'll have to learn to compensate for the way his ball moves when he throws. But he's quick, he's agile, he's got a good arm and good hands. Being 6-6 hasn't seemed to hurt him. Maybe there are plays a man 5-11 will make he won't, but he's been making the plays so far."
Most of them. Kingman admitted the most embarrassing moment of spring training came when he threw a doubleplay ball into centerfield. Still, he did make a few doubleplays in spring practice; he had great praise for Giant second baseman Tito Fuentes. "Tito has fantastic hands," he said. "He tells me, 'Don't worry about the doubleplay. Just get the lead man. I'll take care of the rest."
So at the beginning of the season I took the question to Tito Fuentes, and asked Tito how he thought Kingman was coming around. Fuentes' almond eyes opened even rounder, and he said, "Don't ask me. Ask the coach. Ask the manager. I have enough problems of my own."
So that's where the experiment stood when it was broken off by a broken arm. But, again we have mislaid the emphasis. Kingman is an offensive ballplayer, not a defensive one. He will make errors at first and perhaps more of them when he returns to third. The main point is, Dave Kingman was hired to hit. You ask Kingman whether he doesn't find himself thinking too much about his defense when he comes to bat, and he grins his good-looking smile. "I might think about defense while I'm in the field, but at the plate, the easiest thing to concentrate on is hitting." If you ask why, he says instantly: "Because hitting is the most fun."
Hitting is also the way a man gets aggressions out of his system, and Dave Kingman is an aggressive ballplayer. Sometimes an angry ballplayer.
In the final exhibition of spring training against California, the first time he batted, with the bases loaded and a murderously wild Nolan Ryan pitching, Kingman was undressed by a blistering high inside pitch.
"It makes me mad to be brushed back," he said later. In the third inning, he walked. Fox gave him the go-ahead, and Kingman, who is blazing fast, got a great jump and came sliding into second base, without a throw froth catcher Art Kusnyer. Even without the throw, Kingman carried one leg three feet high in that slide, his spikes blinking like stilettoes in the brilliant Palm Springs sun. He looked like a scene in The Godfather. It wasn't his only slide. He stole another base later in the game, this time beating a perfect throw from Jeff Torborg, and the reason the Angels changed catchers is because of what happened in between those two steals. Kingman found himself on third base, with Chris Speier up, and Speier chopped a ball down the first-base line. In came Kingman. Jim Spencer gloved the ball and fired to catcher Kusnyer who planted his left foot in front of the plate. Kingman came close to ripping off that left foot. Kusnyer lay writhing on the ground, and the Angels took one quick sick look at the young man, because Kusnyer's left shoe was torn half off and twisted around as though the foot itself had spun about and now faced backward like a clubfoot. The stretcher was rushed out but it turned out it was only the shoe that was turned. Kingman had his revenge; he'd undressed an Angel. Oh yes, catcher Kusnyer suffered a severely sprained left ankle.
"And did you notice," an occupant of the pressbox said, "how Kingman never came out to take a look at the man?"
"How could he?" someone answered. "He was in the dugout sharpening his spikes."
Dave Kingman will hurt a lot of infielders who get in his way. He is a very aggressive ballplayer. "I've always gone all out," he says. "That's the way I play."
In the Giant dressing room, after Fox had pulled him at the end of six innings, he started to show his feelings.
"What a day!" he said to the Giant trainer. "Three slides! My whole left side hurts." Then he added, "At first they thought I'd broken their catcher's leg."
Then the feelings break through. How does he feel when he strikes out?
"I feel I have to remedy it next time up."
How does he feel when he sits on the bench?
"It makes me more determined."
Does he take a losing game home with him?
"You can't win 'em all. I try to make the best of each day, of each at bat. I don't take the game home. It will drive you crazy."
And when he fails in the clutch?
"I can't wait to get up again."
When he says this, he laughs. It is a nasty sound.
Dave Kingman. A new force in baseball. They laughed when they sat him down at third base. But at first or third he may wipe some of those laughs off their faces. Surely he's going to do some laughing back.
by: STEVE CLARK, Atlanta Constitution
July 28, 1972
Wanted: A Job for Tall Infielder
Dave Kingman, the tallest Giant, started the current baseball season as if he intended to make San Francisco fans forget about aging sluggers Willie Mays and Willie McCovey in a hurry.
He quickly established himself as a long-ball hitter, leading the National League in homers throughout the early part of the season.
Then Johnny Bench of Cincinnati got hot, and Hank Aaron of the Braves started poling them out, and people forgot about Dave Kingman in a hurry.
Now, at midseason, the 23-year-old Kingman is just another reserve infielder on a losing ball club, even though he is very much in the competition to lead the league in homers, with 21, three behind bench.
"My main concern right now is trying to get back in the starting lineup," Kingman said Thursday prior to the Giants-Braves game at Atlanta Stadium.
Kingman begins the second half of the season with a mediocre .220 batting average, but he has been benched for another reason than an unproductive bat. He sprained his right ankle July 14 against the Phillies. While he has been sidelined, Alan Gallagher has re-established himself as the Giants regular third baseman.
Kingman, at 6-6 the tallest infielder in the major leagues, also can play first base. But McCovey is there, and Kingman isn't ready to replace beg No. 44.
"I know I can get my average back up if I just get back in the lineup," said Kingman, who hit .278 and six homers in 41 games for the Giants last year.
So he doesn't worry about his hitting. He has always been able to hit and natural hitters know that the hits will start falling again soon. But there are other worries, such as an inexperienced glove.
"I still have a lot to learn defensively. Put it this way, I haven't got it made in the majors," said Kingman.
Despite Kingman's feeling of insecurity, many baseball observers believe he will become one of the game's biggest stars. Gene Mauch, manager of the Montreal Expos, has been quoted as saying he thinks Kingman will succeed Aaron and Mays as the National League's premier slugger.
"I have set no personal goals on the number of home runs I want to hit," said Kingman. "Like I said, I'm just trying to stay up here."
Kingman is more than just a baseball player. He is an all-around athlete. He starred in football, basketball and baseball in high school in Mr. Prospect, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
"I was a split end and safety in football, a center in basketball and a pitcher for the baseball team," he said.
He probably should have tried out for track, too, because he has great speed for his size. He has stolen 15 bases this season, second best for the Giants, who are led by Bobby Bonds' 21.
"I have the green light to run just about every time I get on base," said Kingman.
After high school, he went to junior college, then to Southern Cal on a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. His sophomore year he had an 11-4 won-loss record, but was so talented with the bat that Trojan Coach Red Dedeaux decided to make an outfielder out of him his junior year. In 1970, his senior year, he led Southern Cal to the NCAA baseball championship.
The Giants made Kingman their No. 1 pick in the 1970 free agent draft and promptly assigned him to Amarillo, where he hit .295 and had 15 homers in 60 games. Last year in AAA ball at Phoenix, he hit 26 homers and knocked 99 runs in 105 games before the Giants called him up.
"I still find it a little strange thinking of myself as a hitter because I was a pitcher for so long, said Kingman. "But I do have confidence in my hitting and I know I'll never pitch again."
He would like to find, however, one position on which to concentrate.
UAL Friendly Times
SAN FRANCISCO - Visitors who want to make points with natives in this city would do well to join a Kingman claque. But unless they know which Kingman they're rooting for, they might as well remain on the other side of the Oakland Bay Bridge.
One Kingman is Doug, the famed water color artist; the other is Dave, the Giants slugger. Both have their camps of loyal followers in this town.
Dave, 23-year-old son of veteran United employee Art Kingman, EXOCZ (charter planning department), made his big league debut last year when the San Francisco Giants pulled him from its Phoenix farm to bolster the team's squad of pinch hitters.
On his first trip to the plate as a Giant
Before he was summoned to Candlestick Park, the Giants' home field, Dave complied an impressive record with the Phoenix team, chalking up 26 home runs and 99 RBI's in only 106 games. In his first partial season with the San Francisco team, the UALer's son earned 32 hits, 18 of which were for extra bases.
Until Willie Mays left the Giants squad, Dave was being groomed as the third man in the Mays-McCovey-Kingman troika of power hitters. With Mays' centerfield position now covered by Rookie Maddox, a potential slugger himself, the Giants' triple threat could wind up as a McCovey-Kingman-Maddox combination.
How much did the slugger contribute to his development as a ball star?
Dave's Dad doesn't consider himself a baseball technician. "Oh, I coached a year of Little League and never missed any of Dave's games until he left for the University of Southern California," Art says. "But Dave and I shared a common interest in fishing and hunting, and we did a lot of these together. On the other hand, although I am not a rabid ball fan, the Kingman household became strongly baseball-oriented as Dave grew and improved his playing skills which were generally self-developed."
In the current season, Dave has made the lineup for most of the games, switching from first base to third and left field. He missed one or two games early in the series on account of an injured finger, and more recently was out for two weeks with a sprained ankle. This has hurt his batting average, which could have been well over the .220 that is currently in the books.
Dave is facing some problems with his game - handling off-speed pitches, his aggressiveness at the plate, screwballs - but they're problems, which time and a few more trips to the plate will solve.
Giants Manager Charlie Fox, who's putting his chips on the young blood in his team, has high hopes for Art Kingman's boy. He is aware of Dave's problems with some pitchers, but he's not worried. "Sure, they'll get him a few times," he says, "but then watch out."
by: BOB HOLIDAY, Daily Herald (Chicago suburbs)
August 30, 1972
Dave Kingman came home last weekend.
Not just to Wrigley Field with the San Francisco Giants. Not just to Mount Prospect. He came home to the baseball field where it all began for the big third baseman, the varsity baseball field at Prospect High School, to help the Prospect Knights Booster's Club dedicate the two new dugouts built by the Boosters for Prospect.
On hand with Dave for the almost rain postponed event were Alvin Kulieke, Prospect's principal; George Gattas, Athletic Director; Jerry Shutt, president of the Mt. Prospect Lion's Club; and Elmer Blasco, project director for this Knights Boosters Club special project.
And what Dave saw when he drove up brought a smile to the face of Prospect's proudest baseball product.
"Man," he commented, "my alma mater has really gone big-league. If these don't instill some pride into the ball clubs coming up, I'll be sadly disappointed. These should be worth at least a conference championship."
The dugouts, now being painted in Prospect's twin-blues, were expected to be completed by the time the Giants arrived in town on August 26, but are now in the final stages of completion with deliveries of materials, and weather, contributing to the delay in completion.
"We wanted to see them completed by the time Dave made his last trip into Chicago this season," said Elmer Blasco, representing the Knights Booster's Club, "but we just couldn't make it. We still have the drinking fountains to install, the front railings to put in place, and the signs to paint for both dugouts."
Mr. Kulieke, in acknowledging the near-completion of the Booster's project, paid high praise to the Prospect Knights Boosters for this ambitious project.
"There are none better in the state," he observed. "Neither dugouts or Boosters."
The Booster project began early this year when Booster President George R. Busse and his board decided upon a new program of one special project a year for the Prospect athletic program and the dugouts were it.
Blasco, Booster treasurer and coordinator of the project, outlined the history of the dugouts.
"It all began with a set of blueprints and engineering plans," he observed. "These were put together by Bob McBride, the father of one of our gymnasts. With these in hand, George Busse presented our request for funds to the Mount Prospect Lions Club and they most generously agreed to fund the project with a cash grant."
"From then on the entire project began to snowball and we were on our way," he continued. "Bob Jackson and the Mount Prospect Park District contributed their equipment and Kenny Goodman to do the excavations and trenching. With the money from the Lions we paid for the concrete and block work."
"And then the real heart-warming part of the project took place. Kurt Bostrom contributed the steel posts and the sheet metal for the roof. The Prospect Varsity club donated the two drinking fountains. Victor Rose, Sr. came over and put on the roofs. John Bruner helped lay concrete block. Bill Selep donated the seat brackets. And Bill Smith, Jack Loos, Bob Jennings pitched in with help on the roofs and the painting. Even Roger Spielman helped mix mortar. And George L. Busse is contributing the permanent plaque that will acknowledge all of the contributions made to this project.
"A lot of people have really helped put these things together," Blasco concluded , "and even though they're not quite done, the Booster Club would like to thank them all. But most of all, the Lions Club, without whose original funding we could never have made it."
Gattas, Prospect's athletic director, in accepting the dugouts on behalf of Prospect's athletic program, thanked Shutt and the Lions Club for providing the funds for the project and concluded the brief ceremony by saying, "Jerry, if this contribution of yours encourages more boys to play baseball, and produces more Kingmans, and Lundstedts, you'll have spent your money wisely."
Yes, Dave Kingman came home to Prospect last Saturday, and if the Prospect Knights Booster's Club has its way, there will be more Kingmans and Lundstedts coming out of their dugouts in the years to come to win conference championship. . . and maybe more.
by: ROBERT VANDERBERG, Chicago Tribune
November 10, 1972
There was a lot of scoffing by San Francisco baseball fans and sportswriters last March when Charlie Fox, manager of the Giants, announced that he was going to convert a young 6-foot-6 first baseman-outfielder into a third baseman.
Eight months later, tho, it looks as if Dave Kingman has managed to get the last laugh.
"I feel real competent at third now," said the 1967 Prospect High graduate from his apartment in Foster City, Cal. "I think I can move well enough laterally, but I still need a little more work on bunts and slowly hit balls."
Kingman, however, does admit that he did have apprehensions about making the move to third base when spring training started.
"Yes, I had some reservation," he said, "but I took a lot of grounders in practice every day, and I began feeling a lot more comfortable at the position. I really enjoy playing there now."
In fact, third base has become the favorite playing spot for the 23-year-old slugger, who led the Giants with 29 homers and 83 runs-batted-in last season.
"Now, if you asked me if I'd rather play the outfield or the infield, I'd tell you infield," Kingman said. "And if I had to choose between first or third base, I'd have to say third." Slayton, still coaching at the Mount Prospect school, remembers his former student well. "When he wasn't pitching, he play right field for us, and he was always our cleanup hitter."
The coach remembers, too, the crowds of major league scouts that Kingman drew to the Knights' games. "I think every club was represented at one time or another," he said. "And all the scouts wore bibs - they had to, because they were slobbering all over themselves," he joked.
Kingman gave the scouts reason to drool. He holds the Prospect records for most home runs in a season (5) and most total bases (50). And, as a pitcher, he still possesses the school marks for victories in a season (7, strikeouts in a season (121), and strikeouts in a seven-inning game (15). All that in a baseball season consisting of some 20 games.
So it wasn't surprising when Kingman was drafted as a pitcher by the California Angels after his graduation from high school. But Dave turned sown their offer and took another one from Southern Cal.
"I decided that I wanted to play baseball and go to college too," he said. "So I accepted a baseball scholarship from USC, which has one of the best college baseball programs in the country. I really think that playing at USC is equivalent to playing Double-A ball. It's that good a program.
The main reason for the success of the USC program, in Kingman's opinion, is veteran coach Rod Dedeaux, who has been heading Trojan baseball for nearly 20 years. "Rod stresses work on the fundamentals of the game,: Kingman said. "He's an inspirational-type-guy--he makes you want to win. I really owe him a lot."
It was Dedeaux who had the vision to switch Kingman from the mound to the outfield on a permanent basis during Dave's junior year, although the transition nearly turned out to be a disaster.
"We were playing against Santa Barbara about midway thru the season," Kingman recalled. "I was playing right field, and I went after a flyball in right-center. The center fielder and I collided, and I tore some ligaments in my right knee."
Recovery was quick, tho, and Kingman got back in time to help the Trojans win the national championship in Omaha. Shortly thereafter, he became one of two members of the USC squad to sign with the Giants. Pitcher Jim Barr also inked a San Francisco contract.
"Jim and I signed the same day, and we were brought up to the Giants the same day last year," he remembered.
Before joining the parent team, July 31, tho, Kingman served a 60-game apprenticeship at Amarillo in the Texas League in 1970, then spent 105 games with Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League last summer.
At Phoenix, Dave, despite only 392 times at bat, rapped out 29 doubles, five triples, and 26 homers, and drove in 99 runs. "I was one short of the club RBI record when the Giants recalled me, but I wasn't complaining," he laughed.
Kingman broke in with the Giants in storybook fashion, clouting a grand slam home run against Pittsburgh in his second big league game, then ripping a pair of homers the next day. He went on to hit .278 with six homers and 24 RBI's in 41 games, capping the season with a two-run blast in the 5 to 1 final-game victory in San Diego to clinch the Western Division title for the Giants.
However, 1972 was not quite the same, as the Giants, hampered by injuries, got off to a horrible start and plunged to fifth place and a 68-86 record.
"Yes, it was kind of disappointing," admitted Kingman. "We made our share of mistakes in the first part of the season. But you could see the improvement as we went along. We eliminated the errors and we started beating people."
Kingman, who is keeping busy during the off-season in the Bay Area, was reasonably satisfied with his own performance this year. "I was real happy with my season," he said, "except for my batting average." Dave's mark dipped below the .220 level before finally rising a bit to .225.
Attendance at Candlestick Park also dipped, reaching its lowest ebb since the Giants moved to Frisco in 1958. But that doesn't worry Kingman.
"The Giants' fans are good fans," he said. "Of course, they're not the gung-ho type like in Chicago, but they're okay - they'll support us."
The expected development of several young performers lends credence to Kingman's words. "We have a lot of good young players, guys like Chris Speier, Gary Maddox, Dave Rader, Ed Goodson, and Gary Matthews," he said. "We're all looking forward to next year."
This fall Kingman had to watch the World Series on television as the neighboring Oakland A's won the world championship. It may not be long before Kingman helps bring a title to the other side of the Bay.
by: PAT FRIZZELL, The Sporting News
December 30, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - With Ken Henderson gone, who'll be in the Giants' outfield?
San Francisco won the 1971 National League West championship with what some considered the best outfield in baseball - Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds and Henderson.
Now two-thirds of it is elsewhere. Mays has been a Met since last May and the slender, proficient Henderson, who first joined the Giants in 1965, has been traded to the White Sox.
Bonds is still on hand, one of the game's top right fielders, an offense and defense standout looking toward his fifth San Francisco season.
GARRY MADDOX, the young Southern Californian who succeeded Mays successfully despite inexperience, will be difficult to dislodge from center field.
Left field? In the words of Manager Charlie Fox, it's "up for grabs."
Fox made a brief mid-winter visit to Candlestick Park from his off-season home in Phoenix. He pronounced the general state of the Giants as good.
"Anybody who earns the left-field job in spring training will get it," the skipper said. "The same is true at first and third bases, although Willie McCovey will be very hard to keep off first if he's all right physically.
"ALMOST ANYONE could be in left field. Yes, there's a chance we'll try Dave Kingman there. He played left field when he first came up, you know. Then there are Ed Goodson, Bernie Williams, Jim Howarth, Jimmy Williams and Gary Thomasson."
Goodson, whose lefthanded batting swing makes him a guy the Giants would love to have in their regular lineup, has recovered satisfactorily from the knee operation he underwent at Stanford University Medical Center a month before season's end.
"I've talked with Ed on the phone," Fox said, "and he told me the knee is coming along fine. He could play in the outfield or at first or third."
A key to the situation, in the opinion of some observers, is the comeback of Jim Ray Hart. Jim, whose shoulder seems as good as new but who also underwent knee surgery in October, is working out regularly at a San Francisco gym this winter, trying to round into strong shape for the spring.
SHOULD JIM RAY report in A-1 physical condition, he might be impossible to keep off third base, even with Kingman, Goodson, and Alan Gallagher as competition.
Hart's bat, which has produced 157 major league home runs in 10 years even though the 31-year-old slugger spent a large share of the past three seasons with Phoenix )Pacific Coast), is almost a must if it's available.
So, of course, is Kingman's.
by: PAT FRIZZELL, The Sporting News
December 30, 1972
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--If the new definition of a rookie had been adopted earlier, Dave Kingman might have been the National League's 1972 Rookie of the Year.
Kingman batted only 115 times for the Giants in 1971. He came up July 30 and was with the San Francisco club less than 45 days prior to September 1.
Last season and this, and for many past years, a player who had exceeded 90 at-bats in the majors in previous seasons was not considered a rookie. Recently the Baseball Writers' Association changed its restriction to 130 at-bats, more in accord with the modern 162-game schedule.
With 29 home runs and 83 RBIs, both high for the Giants, Kingman conceivably could have taken rookie honors this year had the new, more liberal requirement been in effect. His average was only .225, however.
Dusty Baker of Atlanta, who missed rookie status by just eight too many at-bats, possibly would have beaten out Kingman. He hit .321, and with 17 homers and 76 RBIs. Yet 6-6 Dave's 29 homers for a club which led the major leagues in round-trippers undoubtedly would have earned some votes.
Along with his home runs, Kingman smacked 17 doubles and four triples. Thus exactly 50 of his 106 hits in 135 games were worth extra bases. He stole 16 bases, too, despite a sore foot that reduced his speed and agility for some time.
Almost half of Dave's hits have gone for extra distance. In 1971, he had six homers, 10 doubles and two triples among his 32 hits in 115 times up. His 1971 average was .278 in 41 games. He stole five bases.
"I'm coming back pretty well now," the slender University of Southern California alumnus noted late in the season, immediately after his splurge of seven hits in 13 at-bats in a three game series with the champion Reds in Cincinnati. Moreover, Kingman didn't strike out once in that series.
"Dave showed a lot of improvement at the plate in the final five weeks of the season," Manager Charlie Fox commented. "He cut down his strikeouts, for one thing."
Too Many Whiffs
Through much of the year strikeouts were the bane of Kingman's existence. He wound up with plenty - 140 - but they were decreasing, as Fox discovered, late in the race. A free swinger, it was natural for the intense ex-Trojan to collect whiffs, but no so many.
"I don't like to strike out," Kingman said, "It's important for me to relax and concentrate on the strike zone. It helps if I'm in the lineup every day.
"I had an edge on the pitchers for a while, but then they caught up and got ahead of me until last month or so."
Off to a flying start, which included hitting for the cycle in the Astrodome, Kingman topped the league in RBIs and homers for a time, then slipped off the pace. One reason was a severe right ankle sprain, suffered when he caught his spikes on the bag while running to first base against the Phillies at Candlestick Park July 15.
If he hadn't missed eight consecutive games and 13 or 15 as the result of that, Dave would have sat out very few times. Showing his versatility, he started 59 games at third base, 46 at first and 22 in left field. He pinch-hit in five games and substituted in three others.
Close Run at 30 Homers
Kingman narrowly missed 30 home runs. When he found Jack Billingham, later a World Series winner, for two homers in Cincinnati September 19, Dave had 28 with 11 games to go. He almost hit another that same night, sending Bobby Tolan to the wall. But Dave managed only one more homer, off Tom Kelly of Atlanta at Candlestick September 29.
Converting the young slugger into a third baseman was a daring experiment. Kingman had never even tried the position before last spring. The move wasn't entirely successful, but nobody could label it a dismal failure. For example, Dave handled 11 chances errorlessly in a doubleheader at third May 21 and had 10 assists without error at third in one 11-inning game in September.
One hangup involved in Kingman's playing third is the mental block many observers entertain about the idea of a 6-6 player at the position. Old-timers have pointed to Bobby Thomson and Dick Gyselman as unusually tall third basemen, but both were shorter than Dave.
Kingman started at third in the Giants' first four games, before moving to first for 30 after Willie McCovey suffered his broken arm. And Dave occupied third in the season's final six games, five won by the Giants.
Dave Likes Hot Corner
"I've learned a lot this year," Dave said. "I'm willing to play anywhere they want me. I'm pleased they think I can more than one position. I feel very comfortable at third base now and would like to make it a home."
This may be easier said than done, Kingman could receive stern competition for the post from several worthy opponents -- Jim Ray Hart, Ed Goodson, a prime candidate if his recovery from earlier knee surgery is complete, and Alan Gallagher, a Giant third baseman for three years.
For so large a man, Kingman is amazingly agile. He was a pitcher in high school and Legion ball and as a sophomore at USC, before Coach Rod Dedeaux switched him to the outfield to take advantage of his bat. In his junior year he hit .353 in 32 games, despite missing half the season because of a fractured right arm and torn knee ligaments, in helping the Trojans win the National collegiate championship.
Kingman is still a USC fan. He watches the Trojans play football whenever possible. "I played football and basketball, too, in high school at Mt. Prospect, ILL.," Dave recalled, "even though baseball always has been my favorite sport. I was a split end and safety in football, a center and forward in basketball. I've played tennis and golf, too. My father was a football guard at Iowa State Teachers. He began playing catch with me when I was around 2."
"He has more potential than anyone I ever coached."--Rod Dedeaux, Coach, USC Baseball Team.
No one really knows what to expect when Dave Kingman of the San Francisco Giants strides up to home plate with a bat in his hands. In a spring training game at Phoenix, Arizona last spring, Kingman looked terrible striking out on a curveball in the early innings. The very next time up, however, he belted a home run that veteran baseball observers agreed was the longest they had ever seen in the park.
Thus far, it has been that kind of career for the 6' 6", 215-pounder who is well on his way to becoming the next great slugger in baseball. Kingman, 24, is the best long-ball hitter to come off a college campus since Frank Howard joined the Los Angeles Dodgers off the Ohio State baseball team in the 60's.
As a collegian at the University of Southern California, Kingman built a reputation for strength and has done nothing to diminish it in his less than two seasons in the big leagues. He learned his collegiate baseball under coach Rod Dedeaux, who built a powerhouse at USC with such future major leaguers as Tom Seaver of the New York Mets. "Dave wanted to be a pitcher all his life," said Dedeaux after his Trojans won the 1970 NCAA baseball championship in Omaha, Nebraska. "But I told him that he had a chance to be a great one if he switched to the outfield, so he changed. I mean he could develop like Stan Musial, Willie Mays or Henry Aaron. He may have more potential than anyone I have ever coached."
Kingman was drafted by the California Angels as a pitcher out of high school in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, but Dedeaux convinced him to enroll at Southern California. As a sophomore, Kingman had an 11-4 pitching record. But Dedeaux still had visions-as does every manager for whom Kingman has played- of having his powerful bat in the lineup, every day. The outfield switch took care of that. Kingman came up to the Giants at the end of the 1971 season and started immediately as an outfielder and-when Willie McCovey was being rested-as a first baseman.
Dave's second big league appearance was the kind most rookies dream about. He came to bat with the bases loaded against the Pirates' Dave Guisti and blasted a grand slam home run. "I've got to get that bat of his in the line up someplace," the Giants' manager, Charlie Fox, said after the game. The next day, as a starter for the first time. Kingman greeted Doc Ellis of Pittsburgh by belting two homers.
In the midst of a pennant race, the Giants were dismayed when Kingman was suddenly rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. But it took only 12 days for him to recuperate and he returned to the San Francisco lineup in time for the stretch drive.
Through September, the Giants maintained their narrow lead over the Dodgers. finally clinching the Western Division championship on the final day of the 1971 season. Under the tough pressure of the pennant race, he appeared in 41 games and batted .278 with six home runs. Eighteen of his 32 hits were for extra bases, a solid sign of a power hitter.
The Giants picked Kingman first in the free agent draft in June of 1970 and sent him to Amarillo, Texas. In 60 games with the Texas League club, he hit 15 homers and batted .295. He very quickly earned a reputation as one of the most powerful hitters ever to play in the league. A home run that Kingman hit in Little Rock, Arkansas is still talked about by baseball people as one of the longest they have ever seen hit by anybody-anyplace. The ball broke a window in the National Guard armory across the street from the stadium.
The Giants wanted to have a closer look at their young prospect, so they invited him to their Casa Grande spring training camp in Arizona at the beginning of the 1971 season. He hit the ball well in practice and fielded well at first base and in the outfield. Still, the Giants wanted him to get a little more minor league seasoning, so they left him behind with their Pacific Coast League team in Phoenix when they returned to San Francisco to begin the season. Kingman tore up the league, hitting .278 and banging out 26 homers. The Giants then decided that they needed his bat down the stretch.
Manager Fox had some special plans for Kingman at the start of the 1972 season. With McCovey considered a fixture at first base and some promising outfielders waiting for a chance to move up from Phoenix to the big leagues, Fox decided to turn Kingman into a third baseman. "It's really crazy," Kingman said. "I have never been on a team which needed a third baseman." But the Giants thought he had enough talent to adjust to the position and Fox assigned coach Joey Amalfitano to tutor Kingman. The coach was impressed with his pupil. "He learns quickly. His biggest asset is his quickness and agility. He has fine lateral movement and he can come in on the ball. I say he is going to make it."
It turned out to be a very strange year for Kingman. He started out playing third base. Then McCovey broke his arm in the second week of the season. Immediately, Fox began looking for someone big and strong to fill in for McCovey at first base. Guess who he saw first? Kingman, of course. And when McCovey came back, Kingman played third again.
With McCovey injured, the burden of the Giant hitting fell upon Kingman. He hit the long ball and drove in runs all season, finishing with 29 home runs and 83 RBIS, but his average suffered (.225). "It is important for me to relax, be loose and concentrate on the strike zone," he said. He knows his weaknesses and works hard to correct them, "I have trouble with off-speed pitches and I'm working on that. I have always been aggressive at the plate, but now I'm learning more about waiting for my pitch."
Kingman has what appears to be a weak, choppy downward swing. It looks as if he will get very little power into the ball. But the results show he is not wasting power. Whenever pitchers face a tall slugger like Kingman, they try to keep him off-balance so he cannot get his full power into a ball. He is assured that he will see mostly slow breaking pitches and not too many fastballs. "Sure, they'll get him out a few times," said Fox. "But then, watch out." On the second day of the season in the Astrodome, nothing the Houston pitchers threw to Kingman seemed like the right thing. "You hit for the cycle," teammate Chris Speier told Kingman after the game. Kingman knew what he had done-blasted a home run. triple, double and single in one game. But the rookie had never heard it called the cycle before.
Throughout the season. the Giants also used Kingman's speed. The only man on the Giants who Kingman could not defeat in a footrace was Bobby Bonds. Kingman stole 16 bases in 22 attempts last season, perhaps remembering the advice he got from Dedeaux just before he signed his professional contract. "He advised me to make use of my speed. I really never did in college."
David Arthur Kingman. San Francisco's bright young star, followed the advice of his college coach and gave up pitching for the opportunity to get his powerful bat in the lineup every day. Like Dedeaux. the Giants discovered how versatile Kingman could be, planing him in the outfield and at both first and third base. If he weren't such a good hitter, the Giants would probably try, him on the mound again. But baseball people learned that lesson a awhile ago when they made another pitcher into an outfielder. A man named Ruth.
Press excerpts Copyright 1972 San Francisco Giants, San Mateo Times, Sports Illustrated, Tri-City Herald, San Francisco Examiner, New York Times, UPI, The Sporting News, Sport Magazine, The Daily Herald, Atlanta Constitution, UAL Friendly Times, Chicago Tribune
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