Thursday, August 9, 2012
Dave Kingman and Fenway Park
By David Schoenfield
After my little note about the year Dave Kingman led the National League in home runs and still finished 24th in the league in slugging percentage, my colleague Joe DeMartino suggested I look up Kingman's career numbers at Fenway Park.
Before I do that, however, a short introduction to Kingman if you're not familiar with him. It's pretty safe to say there's nobody quite like him in the game today. He was the quintessential all-or-nothing slugger, sort of an earlier version of Adam Dunn, minus the walks and owning perhaps an even worse glove. "Cardboard Gods" author Josh Wilker wrote about Kingman here and cites the time Kingman needed his glove repaired, which led to Phillies broadcaster Richie Ashburn saying, "They should have called a welder." He wasn't exactly the most gregarious of personalities; Cubs teammate Bill Caudill once said, "Dave Kingman was like a cavity that made your whole mouth sore."
Kingman was 6-foot-6 and nicknamed "Kong," as few players could ever launch a baseball like him -- when he connected, at least, which he did enough to hit 442 career home runs. But basically, Kingman pulled everything, be it an infield pop fly, a fly ball to left or a home run, thus the low totals of doubles.
Which gets us to Fenway Park. It's too bad the Red Sox never acquired him, because Kingman was born to play in Fenway. He started 18 games in his career there and hit 13 home runs. OK, small sample size, but that's still pretty awesome. He slugged .816. Sadly, it never happened, and Kingman spent most of his career playing on lousy teams in Chicago, New York and Oakland.