Rewind: 01.30.1984

METS RELEASE KINGMAN

Timeline: January 30, 1984.

The Mets gave Dave Kingman his unconditional release.

”I’m not bitter,” Kingman told the media. ”It’s not unexpected. The handwriting was on the wall when they got Keith Hernandez last June. I just want a chance to play.”

Since his release in 1984, Kingman has evolved into a mythical figure in Mets franchise history. On the field he was regarded for his ability to hit home runs like the one’s we — you and I — dreamed about hitting in our childhood fantasies.

Kingman caught the eye of Mets on August 25, 1971 when he crushed a Jerry Koosman fastball, sending it over the left field fence, over the bullpen, before it finally came crashing down against the Giants team bus outside Shea Stadium.

“He hit it nine miles,” Koosman told the media after the game. “It broke a window in their bus.”

Mets coach Yogi Berra chuckled, comparing Kingman’s power to Mickey Mantle. Berra never forgot the display of power, and when he took over as manager, he encouraged ownership to make a deal for Kingman. In 1973, the Mets offered Jerry Koosman to San Francisco for Kingman. The Giants turned it down. In 1974, the Giants countered, offering Kingman to the Mets for Jon Matlack. This time, the Mets said no. Finally, during Spring Training 1975, the Mets and Giants pulled off a deal: Kingman for cash.

Kingman’s first tenure in New York lasted 2 1/2 years, 315 games, 82 home runs (some of legend), 202 RBI and a equally eye-popping 354 strikeouts. On June 15, 1977, he was dealt to San Diego the same day Tom Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

Kingman’s second stint with the Mets started in 1981 with a fresh attitude and promise to “erase the past.”

He fought the label “moody” saying, ”I’m not moody. I’m private … Baseball is a job to me, not an obsession. I’m not after publicity in New York. I will fight it as I have done in the past … Everybody has his moments. When I have my sullen times, I want to be left alone. If you call that moody, O.K.”

Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in June 1970, Kingman immediately stood out among his peers. He stood six feet six inches. He weighed 210 pounds.

Kingman played 16 major league seasons for seven different teams, hitting 442 home runs and compiling a career .236 batting average. He also struck out 1,816 times during his major league career and led the league three seasons in the infamous category (1979, 1981 and 1982).

… AND TWO DOZEN MORE STORIES THAT TELL THE STORY OF A KING-MAN

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Mets Rewind
National League baseball in New York was redefined on March 6, 1961 when the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. formally received a certificate of membership from leave president Warren Giles. Of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs today, the case could be made that no other team has a more compelling franchise history than the New York Mets. From Casey Stengel to Yogi Berra, Marv Throneberry to Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Tug McGraw, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Valentine, Pedro Martinez and Matt Harvey, the Mets are loaded with character(s). Then there are the Amazin’ seasons — 1962, 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2006-2008 and 2015 — full of miracles, joy, hope and heartbreak. Mets Rewind is designed for that purpose: To share team history in a distinct and entertaining format. We hope you — the baseball fan — enjoy the content. We encourage you to share your memories.
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