May 7, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingmans Big Start In May

Tuesday May 4th 1976: At this early point in the 1976 season, the Mets managed by Joe Frazier were 15-8 and in first place in the NL East. A Shea Stadium crowd of 18,528 fans came out to see the Mets host the reigning World Champions, the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds, managed by Sparky Anderson. 

Both clubs starting pitchers were off to good starts, The Mets Tom Seaver & the Reds Fred Norman were both 3-0 up to this point.

Fred Norman lost his control in the 2nd inning, issuing four walks which led to two Mets runs. The Reds got a run back in the 3rd, as Seaver himself walked two & Pete Rose singled in Cesar Geronimo. 

In the home 3rd inning, Joe Torre led off with a single. Then Dave Kingman hit a two run HR, putting the Mets ahead for good on the day. 

This started off a very hot productive streak for Mr. Kingman also known by the names "SkyKing" & "Kong". It was already Kingman's tenth HR of the season, the most in the league. The Mets got another run in the game on an Ed Kranepool RBI hit, capping off the 5-3 win. Seaver bested to 4-0 on the year as the first place Mets were rolling along nicely.

Friday May 7th 1976:  Tonight the first place Mets hosted John McNamara's third place San Diego Padres, as the National League's two best pitchers of 1976 faced off against each other. The Mets Jerry Koosman went up against the Padres, Randy Jones, who would narrowly beat out Koos for that years Cy Young Award.


1976 had some good highlights for the Mets: Jerry Koosman would win twenty games & slugger Dave Kingman would set a Mets club record with 37 HRs, second most in the NL. It would be Tom Seaver's last full season before trade in 1977. Sadly it was to be the clubs last winning season until 1984.

In the May 7th, Friday night game, it was Dave Kingman  he was to be the star. In the 1st inning he wasted no time, as he blasted a two run HR off Jones, scoring Joe Torre with the first two runs of the game. In the 4th, Koosman helped out his own cause with an RBI single to go up 3-2. The Padres managed two runs off Koosman, & the score was 3-2 into the 8th inning.

Then Padre relief pitcher; Mike Dupree, allowed a lead off double to Felix Millan & a single to Joe Torre. Kingman then followed with a three run blast to left center field, putting the Mets ahead 5-4. It was his eleventh HR of the young season. It turned out to be the game winner, as Koosman went the distance for the victory. He allowed two runs on six hits with seven strike outs to go to 3-1.


Wednesday May 12th 1976: Five days later the Mets were on the road to play the Braves in Atlanta. The Mets were still in first place at 19-11 & Dave Bristols Braves, were in fifth place at 9-19. 

The Braves pitcher, Andy Messersmith, who was one of the games top pitchers in the early to mid seventies, and had also became one of the first free agents, who had signed with Atlanta but was struggling at 0-4. The Mets once again had Jerry Koosman on the mound. 

In the top of the 1st, Kingman started it off with a solo HR. In the Mets 4th, Joe Torre & Ron Hodges got aboard & a Roy Staiger single made it 3-0. Mike Phillips added an RBI hit & Del Unser a sac Fly to make it 4-0 Mets.


In the 5th it was Kingman again, hitting his league leading 14th HR of the season, also hit off Messersmith. Kong also added an RBI double in the 7th inning making it 6-0 Mets.

Kingman had a big four hit evening & drove in three runs, already giving him 33 RBIs for the season. Up to that point in Mets history, the team had never had a slugger like Kingman, putting up such big HR numbers.

The Mets would win the game 6-3, as Koosman earned his fourth win (4-1) & Skip Lockwood earned the save, his fifth.

In the first 12 days of April 1976, in a span of ten games, Dave Kingman had five HRs with 13 RBIs while collecting 13 hits.

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