07/26/2002 1:46 PM ET
Where've you gone, Dave Kingman?
Slugger still a sportsman, just no longer with the bat
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Dave Kingman sat in the dugout Thursday at Wrigley Field as current Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa came over.
|Dave Kingman provided a lot of thrills on the North Side of Chicago in the summer of '79, clobbering a career-high 48 home runs. (Allsport)
"Sammy, the wind's blowing out today," Kingman said.
"It always blows out for me," Sosa said.
The winds were very favorable to Kingman in his three seasons with the Cubs, especially 1979 when "King Kong" led the Major Leagues
with 48 home runs. Kingman batted .288 that year with a .613 slugging percentage, but also struck out 131 times.
The 6-foot-6-inch right-handed hitter belted some of the longest home runs in Wrigley Field history, sending ball chasers on Waveland
Avenue behind the left-field bleachers scurrying.
"He was a bomber," said Cubs manager Bruce Kimm, a teammate of Kingman's in 1979. "He had a wide stance but he could hit the ball a
long ways and he could run like heck."
Kingman clubbed three home runs and drove in six on May 17, 1979, against Philadelphia in a 23-22 slugfest that the Phillies eventually
won. Mike Schmidt hit two home runs that day for the Phillies, including the game-winning shot in the 10th inning.
In 1976 when he played for the New York Mets, Kingman launched a home run that landed four houses down Kenwood Avenue, a street
that runs into Wrigley's left-field bleachers. Baseball fans marked the spot with an "X" on the street.
The 53-year-old Kingman was at Wrigley Field with his three children on Thursday as part of his '79 baseball card giveaway. He sang
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch. Kingman now lives in the Lake Tahoe, Calif., area and besides spending
time with his family, is an avid fisherman, hunter and skier.
On Thursday he looked ready to pick up a bat and take a few swings, too, but deferred that duty to Sosa.
"A home run's a home run but Sammy can do it better than anybody right now," Kingman said. "I admire watching him hit. He's one of a
"The game has changed and it will continue to change. ... The parks have changed and guys are getting bigger and stronger. It was bound
to change. Records were made to be broken."
-- Dave Kingman
Sosa is the first player to have three 60-homer seasons. Back when Kingman played, 48 was a big deal.
"The game has changed and it will continue to change," Kingman said. "Pitchers still have to throw it over the plate and hitters are doing
their best to hit it. The parks have changed and guys are getting bigger and stronger. It was bound to change. Records were made to be
One thing that hasn't changed much is Wrigley Field. It still looks very much the same as when Kingman played.
"Everybody who comes back reminisces. You have to," he said. "There are just great memories for anybody who played the game. I had
three great years here, three enjoyable years."
Kingman played for the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, California Angels and Oakland
Athletics as well as the Cubs.
His children were all smiles getting autographs from the current Cubs.
"Just having the family in the dugout -- it's the first time they've experienced that aspect of the game," Kingman said. "They were like, 'Wow,
what a fun way to make a living.'"
Carrie Muskat covers the Cubs for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.