Dec 20, 2016
Remembering Mets History: (1982) Dave Kingman Becomes First Met to Lead the NL In HRs
September 1982: Dave Kingman was labeled "Kong' or "Sky King" for his mammoth HRs & sky high fly balls that either went well out of Shea Stadium or just very high fly outs.
Kingman had come over from the San Francisco Giants in 1975 for $150,000 cash, a pretty large sum in those days. That year he hit 36 HRs falling two shy of his nemesis Mike Schmidt. Schmidt would beat out Kingman again in the bicentennial year of 1976, this time by just one HR.
Kingman had 30 HRs already by the All Star break & there was talk of him breaking the single season record. But an injury shut him down from mid July to late August denying him of the opportunities.
The mid seventies Mets were good teams & in contention most of the season. By 1982 things were still bad & wouldn't begin to turn around until the next season. One of the 1982 high lights was Dave Kingman becoming the first Met to ever lead the league in HRs with 37. That year Kingman beat out Atlanta slugger Dale Murphy who hit 36 & that man again, Mike Schmidt who belted out 35.
Kingman entered the month of September with 31 HRs. On September 4th & 5th he hit HRs at Shea Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds, helping the Mets to wins in both games.
On September 8th the Mets were in Pittsburgh & Kingman hit #34 off pitcher Don Ronbinson, helping Rick Ownbey the man who would get traded to St. Louis in the Kieth Hernandez deal the following year to a win.
The Mets then moved on to St. Louis to play that years eventual World Champs. In the first game Kingman hit an unusual inside the park HR, to help Craig Swan & New York to a 2-1 win over John Stuper & the Cards. The lone Cardinal run was a Kieth Hernandez HR!
The next night, Kinman hit #36, keeping pace with Murphy in a 6-3 Mets loss, the HR off St. Louis' Jeff Lahti.
On September 17th, the Mets were hosting the Cardinals in a twin bill at Shea. The Mets would lose both ends of this double header in the midst of a five game losing streak.
But Kingman sealed his fate with #37, a long HR off Eric Rasmussen in the 7th inning.
Kingman known for lots of strike outs & low batting average, hit for the lowest average of any HR champion ever at .204. He would also lead the NL in strike outs that year with 156 defending his K title from the year before as well. His 1816 career strike outs are 15th nost all time. His 442 HRs are 40th on the MLB all time list.
The '82 Mets finished last 67-97 in the NL East. Dave Kingman spent one more season in New York hitting just 13 HRs in just 100 games. In his Mets career Kingman hit 154 HRs, fifth on the Mets all time list.