Remembering Mets History (1976) Dave Kingman Hits Three HRs In Tom Seaver's Three Hit Shut Out in L.A.

Friday June 4th, 1976: One month before America was to celebrate its 200-year birthday on July 4th, the craze across the nation was celebrating the bicentennial. The Mets were on a west coast road trip, as Joe Frazier's third place Mets (25-27) were in Los Angeles to play Walt Alston's second place Dodgers (30-21). The Mets had lost four straight & 11 of their last 13.

The '76 Mets did make a nice run in the summer but would finish the year in third place at 86-76. 

The 1976 Dodgers went on to 92 wins but had no chance to catch the Big Red Machine, who won 10 games & won their second straight World Series. 

Dodger Manager Walt Alston would retire at the end of the season after managing the Dodgers since 1954, winning four World Championships. Tommy Lasorda would take over the Dodgers leadership for the next thirty years winning two World Championships.

As for the Mets it was to be their last winning season for the next seven years & no one knew it at the time, but also the last full season with Tom Seaver in New York, until a return in 1983.

On this Friday night, a big crowd of 52,516 came to see their own knuckleballer Burt Hooton take on Tom Seaver. In the crowd on this evening, was legendary USC coach, Rod Dedeaux, who had coached the Mets Tom Seaver & Dave Kingman.

In the top of the 1st, Dave Kingman popped out stranding Mike Phillips on first base. A quiet out but "Kong" was soon to roar & be heard on the night. 

In a scoreless game heading to the 4th, The Mets John Milner led off with a base hit. Kingman then blasted a HR to center field, it was his first of the night & 17th of the young season, making it 2-0. 

In the 5th, Met third baseman Roy Staiger singled & was moved over by a Tom Seaver bunt. Mike Phillips then singled to right bringing Staiger with the third Mets run. Wayne Garrett followed with a walk. 

Kingman then struck again, this time blasting a three-run shot off Hooton over the left field fence. It was his second HR of the night & 18th of the year. Kingman now had five RBIs on the evening.

The Mets Ed Kranepool followed going back-to-back with a solo HR, making it 7-0 Mets, knocking Hooton out of a nightmare start. In 4.2 innings of work, he gave up seven runs, seven hits, three HRs, two walks & a strike out.

By the top of the 7th, Al Downing was pitching for the Dodgers. Downing will forever be known as giving up Hank Aaron's 715th career HR. Here, Mike Phillips & John Milner both singled for New York, putting two men on for Dave Kingman.

Kingman was on fire on this night, he blasted a Kingmanesque HR to left field, for his third HR of night & #20 on the young season. 

Trivia: Kingman tied a Mets record being just the second Met in history (with Jim Hickman being the other) up to that point to hit three HRs in a game & collecting eight RBIs on the night.

The Mets added a run in the 9th, when Bruce Boisclair & Ed Kranepool both singled off Al Downing. Jerry Grote then doubled bringing in the Mets tenth run. That inning Kingman had struck out to make the first out.

As for Tom Seaver, he coasted to a complete game three hit shutout. He struck out eight & walked just one. Seaver got his record to 5-4. The rest of the way he would go 14-11 but post a 2.59 ERA with 235 strike outs. He set a record with nine straight seasons of 200 or more Ks. 

As for Dave Kingman, at that point there was talk of him breaking the single season HR mark. But he would go on the disabled list from July 19th to August 27th, ruining the chance. 

He still would set a Mets single season record with 37 HRs (2nd in the NL to Mike Schmidt), breaking the mark of 36 he set the year before. 


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