A moody but undeniable talent, Kingman had batted just .223 for San Francisco in 1974, striking out every third at-bat, but many of his 18 home runs had traveled breathtaking distances. Kingman, the Mets hoped, would provide the home run power the club lacked, as well as generate some excitement.
The Mets were indeed stronger in 1975. Their .256 batting average was the highest in club history, and Kingman did supply some wallop with a then team-record 36 home runs, while Rusty Staub’s 105 RBIs made him the first Met to drive in 100. As before, the club’s greatest strength lay in its pitching, topped by Tom Seaver’s 22–9 record, good enough for a third Cy Young Award. Jerry Koosman was 14–13 and Jon Matlack 16–12, but beyond that no pitcher won more than seven. At season’s end, they concluded with an 82–80 record and a tie for third.
The Mets’ marginal 82–80 record also resulted in the dismissal of manager Yogi Berra on August 6. His replacement for the rest of the season was coach Roy McMillan. Also gone, a week earlier, was Cleon Jones, released outright.
As the season rolled to an end, there was a quick succession of news stories impinging on the Mets. On September 29, Casey Stengel died of cancer in California at the age of 85. A few days later, on October 4, the club’s principal owner, Mrs. Joan Payson, died at the age of 72.
In between these two passings, on October 3 the club announced the hiring of their fifth full-time manager. The new man was Joe Frazier, former major league infielder and manager of the Tidewater Tides in 1975. Frazier was the first Mets skipper without some connection with New York’s baseball past, and the first to be promoted from within. Frazier had led the Tides, the Mets’ top farm club, to a first-place finish in the International League, earning him the Sporting News award for Minor League Manager of the Year.
1975 SEASON RECAP