- Sad news: Dave's father, Art died in early 1974
by: PAT FRIZZELL, The Sporting News
January 5, 1974
SAN FRANCISCO---Whether Dave Kingman winds up on third base or first, his fortunes should be on the upswing in 1974.
"I'm still disappointed and upset over what happened last season," the 6-6 Giant slugger said after returning from a month and a half of winter ball in Puerto Rico.
"I'll be happy to play third, but I like first a lot, too. The Giants have a fantastic organization, and I'm glad to be with them. But my feeling of last season, when I spent so much time on the bench, still is with me. I won't believe anything is definite until opening day."
Kingman, who played third regularly for the final month of 1973 but prior to that was used sporadically, left Puerto Rico early after a misunderstanding with the owner of the Santurce club, Hiram Cuevas.
"I left on good terms with our manager, Frank Robinson," Dave said, "and had a great time in Puerto Rico, except for that misunderstanding with the owner. We had some outstanding players, even though Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda decided not to play with our team and we were down a way in the standings. It really was an interesting experience."
SANTURCE HAD Terry Crowley of the Rangers on first base; Ron Cash, Tigers, second; Juan Beniquez, Red Sox, short; Charlie Sands, Angels, catching, and an outfield composed of Mickey Rivers, Angels; George Hendrick, Indians, and Angel Mangual, A's.
Santurce pitchers included Mike Cuellar, Orioles; Pamon Hernandez, Pirates; Ed Farmer, Tigers; Mike Strahler, Brewers, and Steve Dunning, Rangers.
"I had an opportunity to bat against these pitchers in practice," Kingman noted, "This meant facing Cuellar's screwball a few times. I played third base every day and had a lot of chances to hit against native Puerto Rican pitchers. Most of these threw mainly breaking pitches and change-ups, so it gave me worthwhile experience.
"I was hitting well above .300, then I dropped a little. I was making good contact--striking out some, though. I'm always conscious of trying to cut down strikeouts."
It's a desirable goal, since Kingman whiffed 122 times in 112 National League games in 1973, 140 times in 135 in 1972. Meanwhile, however, Dave bludgeoned 53 home runs, making his total 59 in two and a half Giant seasons.
"I HIT SIX HOME RUNS in Puerto Rico," the 25-year-old University of Southern California alumnus disclosed. "Some of the parks there aren't easy homerun parks."
Kingman candidly assessed his fielding at third, commenting: "It wasn't great, but the Puerto Rican Infields all were sand. This didn't make things easy."
Kingman fielded impressively at third after moving into the Giants' regular lineup late last August, following an injury to Ed Goodson. "I know I wouldn't have played at all if Ed hadn't been hurt," Dave said. "After spending all that time on the bench, I tried to push myself the last month."
Essentially, his pushing proved successful. Kingman clouted 13 home runs in one 22-game stretch to finish with 24 for the year, only five below his 29 in 1972, when he played much more frequently.
"IT STILL BOTHERS me that I was out of the lineup all that time," Dave emphasized. "Hearing all year that the Giants might trade me didn't make me feel better, either. I lost about three-quarters of the season. I need to play regularly."
Kingman's play impressed some observers in Puerto Rico. The Giants' top management was pleased that he spent some time in winter ball. Dave could be on the threshold of big things. He'll be starting his fourth major league season; having come up to Candlestick from Phoenix (Pacific Coast) late in July of 1971. Then he contributed half a dozen home runs and a .278 batting average in 41 games with the Giants' West Division championship team.
A friend and teammate whom Kingman will miss is Willie McCovey. "I hated to see Willie go," Dave said. "We'll really miss his inspirational play and his leadership.
"I always enjoyed playing with McCovey. He's the first guy on the Giants who really helped me out. He treated me as well as or better than any rookie could have expected when I first came up. He helped me learn about National League pitchers and gave me batting tips.
by: GLENN DICKEY, San Francisco Chronicle
February 13, 1974
AS I WATCHED Charlie Fox at a press conference this week, I couldn't help thinking what a shame it is--for him and the club--that he had to be cast as giants' manager at this particular time. In the mid-60's, with a much more experienced club, he probably would have been a success; certainly, he would have been an improvement on Herman Franks. But a young club like the current Giants is not for him. Charlie's kind of club is the Detroit Tigers, which has a roster full of players who are 35.
Charlie's problem is not lack of baseball knowledge, though like all managers he occasionally makes tactical errors. He does some things that are smart, as in his keeping of a book on how his players do against opposing hitters and pitchers so he can make the smart percentage move in a game. And he seems able to adjust to the physical changes in the game; at his press conference, he explained that it is harder to bunt successfully now than it used to be because the artificial surfaces make it easier for fielders to come up with the ball.
But though Charlie has adjusted to physical changes, he seems unaware of the emotional changes in the players. He is not a mean or vindictive person, but he often mishandles his young players because his mind is rooted in the past.
AT TIMES, HE SEEMS a parody of himself. He did it again this week. Talking of Dave Kingman, he reverted to his own playing days and drew a comparison between those days and spring training last year. The comparison is not valid because there are too many obvious differences in the two periods.
The first difference is that there is much less competition for a job now. When Fox was a player, there were 16 clubs; now, there are 24 and the talent is spread thinner. When Fox was a player, baseball was king; now, it has to compete--often unsuccessfully--with football, basketball and even golf for athletes. When Fox was a player, there were vast farm systems and players moved up slowly through the classifications. Then, it might have been four years before a player even got a shot at the major leagues; now, a player who doesn't make it in three years probably won't make it at all.
In the old farm system, a player had to be mentally tough to make it all the way because the easily discouraged quit after a year or two. There are players now who cannot be discouraged, but there are also those who need special encouragement to bring out their best.
TO BE SPECIFIC: Fox implied the other day that Kingman's problem in spring training last year was he expected a job to be handed to him. In fact, it was precisely the opposite, Kingman had lost confidence in himself. A young man of immense talent, he needed somebody who could be patient with him, and Fox was unable to do it. Now, because of Kingman's last-season surge last year, Fox talks of him leading the club in home runs and RBIs, but Charlie had given up on him a year ago.
Another unfortunately classic example is pitcher Don Carrithers. If you talk to other players in the team, they always express surprise that Carrithers is not a big winner because he has a great arm. But at a time when Don badly needed encouragement, Fox could not give it to him, and Carrithers' potential has never been realized. We can only hope he won't similarly blight the futures of John D'Acquisto and Frank Riccelli.
WHILE FOX HAS been blundering on with the Giants, two men who could have done the job--John McNamara and Jim Davenport--have left the organization. If either were in charge, I'd feel very confident about the Giants' future, because they certainly have a lot of good, young talent. But with Fox as manager, the Giants are like a horse which is carrying 10 pounds more than any other one in the race.
by: JACK HANLEY, San Mateo Times
CASA GRANDE--Dave Kingman reported for duty to the 1974 spring training camp of the Giants "with a new philosophy and a new slate" from which he erased unpleasant memories of the 1973 season.
"My thinking has changed," said the 6-foot-6 slugger whose only happy moments last year came in the closing weeks of the season. "I'm going to go about my job this year in a different way. I'm going to disregard everything around me and just do my job. I know I can do it. I'm forgetting the past, starting with a whole new slate."
During the final weeks of the 1973 season, Kingman became a daily lineup regular at third base and in a 21-game stretch Aug.26-Sept. 16 hit .343 (23-for-67), including 13 homers. His batting average prior to that hot streak was a miserable .183 (35-for-191), including 11 homers, over a four- month period as a bit player.
Kingman was happy he demonstrated during the 21-game streak that he could play third competently and hit for an average with power,
"But," he said at the time, "I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the first part of the season. I'm trying to pack four months of playing time into one month.
When reminded of that comment, Kingman didn't back away from it, saying:
"If Goody (Ed Goodson whose finger was broken in mid-August) hadn't been hurt, I'd have remained on the bench. However, all that's forgotten now and we're starting with a new slate."
Kingman attributed his good glove work at third base during the final weeks of the 1973 season to the fact that, ‘I was relaxed, looser; I don't play well when I'm keyed up."
Kingman credited Hank Sauer, batting coach of the Giants for helping him level his swing during the 21-game streak.
"Hank has always encouraged me, " said Kingman, ‘counseling me to be patient and assuring me that my time would come."
What did Kingman think about Lew Fonseca, dean of major league batting instructors, being brought into the spring training camp of the Giants, primarily to pass along batting tips to Kingman.
"He's got good credentials," said Kingman. "I know from what I've been told by Reds and Cubs that he's done a fine job with Cincinnati and Chicago.
"Still, I can't forget Sauer for all the help and encouragement he's given me."
On his way to camp from Chicago where he spent the past weeks with his mother following the death of his father, Kingman said he saw a story about Ron Bryant and Charlie Fox having bridged a communications gap.
"I'm glad they're getting back together," said Kingman. "It will help the ball club."
The fact that Fonseca is going to act as Kingman's special tutor should not be interpreted as any slight of Sauer...Fox made that clear..."All batting instructors agree on the fundamentals of hitting but sometimes one may spot a hidden flaw previously overlooked, "said the manager.
by: PAT FRIZZELL, The Sporting News
April 27, 1974
SAN FRANCISCO--Dave Kingman was saving his hits and home runs for the regular season.
That's what the Giants' 6-6 third baseman said at one depressing stage of spring training, when his average languished below .200. He finished at .189 for the spring.
Then, on opening day, Kingman exploded with a double and two singles in four times up against the Astros. He traveled right on from there.
When he smashed an extra-long home run off Claude Osteen with two on base in the Giants' third inning, big Dave indicated he might live up to his home- run potential.
THAT WAS the tall, serious slugger's 60th major league homer, occurring on his 900th at-bat ratio of one for every 15 times up
. Kingman's next homer, off Don Gullett, gave the Giants a one-run victory over Cincinnati. This came in the sixth and last game of an opening home stand which found San Francisco winning five times--and Kingman batting .350.
Meanwhile, Dave made a number of excellent stops and throws at third, though he'd also committed five errors in six games.
The 25-year-old University of Southern California alumnus credited a couple of tips from two batting experts for helping him regain his slugging proficiency.
"HANK SAUER stressed keeping my swing level," Kingman said. "Lew Fonseca made it clear I must keep my head still and behind the ball.
"This way I've avoided chasing so many bad pitches. I've been more patient. I'm hitting more up the middle."
Sauer has been the Giants' touring batting instructor for years. Fonseca, 1929 American League batting champion, worked with the Giants as well as the Cubs in spring training in Arizona.
Perhaps most important in Kingman's encouraging start was his Constructive attitude.
"I'm more relaxed than before, Dave said. "The security of knowing, I would be the third baseman has improved my confidence. It has taken some pressure off me."
TEAMMATES have been making bets on how many runs Kingman will bludgeon, guessing as high as 50.
"Dave is as strong as anyone in baseball," pointed out Bobby Bonds, no weakling himself. "He can hit flatfooted and knock the ball out of the park. He often swings too hard. If he'll settle for 350 feet instead of 550, there's no telling how many home runs he might hit."
Kingman offers no predictions, but he'd like to surpass his 29 homers of 1972 and 24 of last season, when he occupied the bench. much of the time. Dave went on a tear in September when he finally moved into the lineup, poling 13 home runs in one 22-game stretch.
While his teammates were cheering his fast start in April, Kingman became something of a cheerleader himself. Normally quiet, he has assumed a significant role in an infield dedicated to keeping the Giants' pitchers on their toes.
"EVERYBODY IN our infield is getting on our pitchers," Dave said. "Sometimes we chew a guy out, when we think he needs, it, or we praise him. We have to make the pitchers concentrate.
"There's no doubt we'll score runs. It has to say something for our club that every one of our eight runs the day we beat the Reds, 8-4, came with two out. It shows our spirit. Two outs don't discourage us."
Kingman was shocked early this year by the death of his father, an airline executive in Chicago. Dave helped his mother find a home in the San Francisco Bay area.
by ART SPANDLER, The Sporting News
September 7, 1974
Dave Kingman, known as "Moon Man" or "Mooney" because of his pensive nature, sits staring at a magazine, content in the knowledge his bicycle is stored in the luggage compartment.
KINGMAN HAD picked up the bike, still in a protective cardboard box, in Philadelphia and hauled it on the team bus, then into the equipment room. From there, it went with the bats and balls from clubhouse to airport to clubhouse to airport.
Dave had threatened to ride the bike to games in St. Louis, where Busch Stadium is located only two blocks from the Giants' lodgings, Stouffer's Riverfront Inn. But he gets his exercise. another way, on the tennis court, against announcer Al Michaels.
Neither will make you forget Ilie Nastase, or even Rosie Casals, but Kingman has decent ground strokes and he beat Michaels, Al losing his temper as he loses his touch.
by: RICHARD DOZIER, Chicago Tribune
December 7, 1974
NEW ORLEANS--Horace Stoneham, owner of the San Francisco Giants, left for home at mid-afternoon Friday, having vetoed a trade that would have sent Dave Kingman and one of two veteran pitchers to the White Sox for Bill Melton.
Either Tom Bradley of Ron Bryant would have accompanied the free-swinging Kingman to Chicago, but Jerry Donovan, who is Stoneheim's general manager, settled for a deal with the San Diego Padres a few hours before the midnight deadline instead. The Giants got Derrel Thomas and the Padres received Tito Fuentes in a swap of infielders that was augmented by the assignment of Clarence Metzger, a Phoenix pitcher, to San Diego.
Donovan said flatly that Stoneheim had nixed a deal with the White Sox but tactfully declined to identify the players. Kingman, who hit 18 homers in 121 games and likely would have become a designated hitter and occasional first baseman for the Sox, batted only .223, but at 26 years old, many clubs see him as ready to put everything together.
Press excerpts Copyright 1974 San Francisco Chronicle, San Mateo Times, The Sporting News, Chicago Tribune
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