Jun 3, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingman Blasts Three HRs & Drives in Eight Runs in L.A. (1976)

Friday June 4th 1976: One month before America was to turn 200 years old, the craze across the country was celebrating the Bicentennial. 

The third place New York Mets (25-27) went to Los Angeles for a weekend series with the second place Dodgers (30-21). The Mets did make a nice summer run that season but fell short, finishing the season in third place at 86-76. The Dodgers won 92 games (92-70) but had no chance catching the Big Red Machine.

On Friday night June 4th, a huge crowd of 52,516 packed Dodger Stadium to see Tom Seaver (4-4) go against knuckle curve ball pitcher Burt Hooton (4-5). 

It was to be all Mets tonight, as the offense exploded for 11 runs, mostly thanks to Dave Kingman who drove in eight of them. On the mound, Seaver was masterful, pitching a three hit shutout. He walked just one and struck out eight along the way, getting his record above .500 to 5-4.

As good as Seaver was, Dave Kingman stole the show. Kong blasted three HRs that night & drove in a Mets record at that time eight runs. Carlos Delgado broke the record with nine RBIs in 2008.

In the 4h inning, John Milner led off with a base hit. Kingman then hit his first HR of the night. It came off Burt Hooton, making it 2-0 Mets.

In the 5th inning, Met third baseman Roy Staiger singled & eventually scored on Mike Phillips base hit. Wayne Garrett then drew a walk. Kingman came up for his second at bat & blasted a three run HR, also off of Hooton. Ed Kranepool followed with a back to back HR as well.

Kingman's third HR of that night, came in the 7th inning off pitcher; Al Downing (the man who gave up Hank Aaron's historic 715th HR).

Mike Phillips & John Milner had both singled putting two men on for Kingman's next three run blast. This topped off the Mets eleven run, fourteen hit night. 

The three HRs gave Kingman a total of twenty, league leading HRs on the season. People were already talking about a possible record breaking season.

Unfortunately, Kingman went on the DL for over a month from July 19th - August 27th. He finished up with 37 HRs on the year, which was second best in the NL to Mike Schmidt. 

He did set a Mets single season record at that time. Kingman would drive in 86 runs (10th most in the NL) but bat just .238 & strike out 135 times in 1976.

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