Kingman Kontroversy

MBTN reader Gordon passed the below photo along today along with this note:

I came across a picture at a flea market this weekend. It was labeled to be Dave Kingman (it looks like him). He’s wearing uniform #5.

Who is this man? And why is he wearing No. 5?

For whatever reason, this photo looks vaguely familiar to me but I can’t place it. If indeed it’s Kingman, and I agree on the blurry resemblance, the intersection of uniform style, Kong’s tenure with the Mets, and availability of No. 5 places this picture as being taken sometime in 1981, obviously in a road game, and before September 11, when Mike Howard was issued No. 5.

My guess is, as often the case, it dates from spring training — where photos exist of Kingman wearing No. 10 from his first tenure. But if you have a guess or happen to know something, please share in the comments section below.

* Thanks to my friends new and old who showed up at the MBTN book launch Sunday at Stout NYC and shared beer, wings, pretzels, burgers and the pain of realizing Luis Castillo is only in the 5th day of a four-year contract. The SNY crew didn’t make it after all, but looks like we’ll have an audience with them soon. Thanks also to the folks who made our appearance at Barnes & Noble Bayside a fun time on Saturday, especially Ashley who set it all up, and Mike, Mike and Lou. We left behind a short stack of autographed copies there — get them while they last.

* We have a few more events on the calendar for next week, including an appearance atBookends in New Jersey April 16 and a baseball writers event at Word Books in Brooklyn April 17 hosted by Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl and also featuring Spike Vrusho, author of Benchclearing: Baseball’s Greatest Fights and Riots. No way can you miss that.

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Dave Kingman is without

    Submitted by tommiecleon on Mon, 04/07/2008 – 9:59pm.
    Dave Kingman is without doubt the Met depicted wearing number five in a Mets road uniform, in your photo up top. Indeed, Big Dave wore that number during the Spring Training that marked his return to the team in 1981.

    I have emailed you another 1981 photograph of Kingman in number five; this time in the Mets home uniform of that season. This particular photo was included as an insert inside the Program for the 1981 All-Star Game. The insert photo was taken in Spring Training of 1981. This can be discerned because the action shot of Kingman clearly does not occur at Shea Stadium and the 1981 Mets would not have worn home uniforms in a game outside of Shea unless they were playing an exhibition game prior to the start of their regular season. Also, the insert photo could not have been dated earlier than the Spring of 1981 because the last time Kingman was a Met prior to 1981 was in 1977 and the home uniforms of the 1977 Mets were unlike the one Kingman is wearing in the insert photo.

    Thus, the insert photo proves that Kingman wore number five in Spring Training, 1981. However, the insert photo doesn’t resolve whether Kingman ever wore number five during the 1981 regular season. While there is ample photographic evidence proving that Kingman wore his old 26 for at least the majority of 1981 and continuing on throughout the end of his tenure as a Met, I leave it to another of your readers to come up with a 1981 Opening Day shot of the Sky King to conclusively put this matter to rest.

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    Mystery sorta

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Mon, 04/07/2008 – 10:26pm.
    Mystery sorta solved…

    Wearing 5 puts Kingman in the jersey of the man he was acquired for, Steve Henderson. Meantime, pitcher Scott Holman was in 26 as the 1980 season ended.

    March 21, 1981 Sporting News reports Kingman would wear 5 “until Holman is shipped out” (I guess they assumed he couldn’t crack that talented mound staff). And he didn’t — Holman spent most of that year in AA Jackson and doesn’t resurface with the Mets until ’82 (wearing 28).

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    That is definitely Kingman.

    Submitted by Dirk (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 12:36am.
    That is definitely Kingman. (Man he could hit a pop fly higher than anyone, couldn’t he?) What’s odd about the picture is the placement of the 5, as if it’s where the second digit of a two digit number should be. I looked up Kingman’s non-Met number history and couldn’t find him wearing 5 anywhere. He apparently wore 45 sometime during his initial season with the Giants before switching to 26 for the 1972 season. He had to switch to 10 when the California Angels claimed him off waivers during the 1977 season from the Padres (Joe Rudi already had 26), and he switched again to 48 when the Angles traded him to the Yankees 10 games later. Larry Bittner in 1978 possessed 26 for the Cubs, so Kingman wore 10 for his Chicago tenure, then (after his second stint with the Mets) returned to 10 to finish out his career with Oakland. I was a huge Kingman fan, and I remember disliking Bobby Valentine for his entire playing career with the Mets because I held him responsible for the Mets-Padres trade (as if Valentine pulled the strings).
    delete edit reply report to Mollom
    Kingman was also

    Submitted by tommiecleon on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 9:07am.
    Kingman was also photographed wearing uniform number five for the cover of a 1981 Mets scorecard. The cover heralds the reappearance of both Kingman and Rusty Staub, who is alongside Kingman on the program cover above the phrase “Dave and Rusty Return”.

    Notably, Kingman’s number five is mostly obscured by Kingman’s bat. Given your Scott Holman “The Sporting News” find, and that Kingman never wore number five during the upcoming regular season, I wonder if the Mets purposely posed Kingman in that manner so as to hide his number five, knowing all the while that by the time the official season began, Kingman would be back in his familiar number 26.

    What’s somewhat odd about this particular program is that it’s from the last week of August, 1981. One would think that by then, the Mets would have had plenty of time to produce a timelier in-season photo of Kingman for the scorecard cover. Also, that Kingman and Staub were back with the Mets for a second stint wasn’t exactly new news by the end of August of that season.

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    I’ll publish those photos

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 9:29am.
    I’ll publish those photos later. Meantime, does anyone remember Kingman in No. 10? Also in Spring Training?
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    Not only do I remember

    Submitted by tommiecleon on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 9:31am.
    Not only do I remember Kingman in the number 10 uniform, but I have photos as well, which I’ll try to dig up.
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    Number Four! You

    Submitted by tommiecleon on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 9:40am.
    Number Four!

    You might also want to ask your readers if they ever remembered Kingman wearing a Mets Spring Training number four uniform, because that’s the number Kingman is shown wearing on pages 28 (b/w) and 35 (color) of the 1975 Mets yearbook (1st unrevised edition).

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    Yeah see, that’s the one I’m

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 9:59am.
    Yeah see, that’s the one I’m thinking of. Because of Rusty Staub, 4 and 10 are closely associated in my mind.
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    I recall a picture in a Mets

    Submitted by Ranjrz5 on Tue, 04/08/2008 – 5:30pm.
    I recall a picture in a Mets yearbook where a fully-bearded Kingmnan is sitting with an arm around Frank Cashen… I’m sure it was spring training because the caption said something along the lines of “Cashen welcomes back Kingman”. He was wearing #5 then.
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