Brian Kingman interview…part 2

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Part 2 of this amazing interview…just some nuances that are the ambrosia of baseball.

2) What was the day like when you took the photo for the Sports Illustrated cover, and how did that come about?

I am going to answer this two part question in reverse order: How it came about…

SI decided to put us on the cover for two reasons. First was our performance during the 1980 season. We went from 54-108 in 1979to 83-79 in 1980. That’s a remarkable 29 game turnaround. We racked up 94 complete games, which I believe is the modern day record. I don’t know though, does 1980 qualify as modern day or does it seem rather ancient to the readers of your blog? It was the most complete games since 1946, and
if you look below at the innings pitched per start, it was quite an aberration from the norm!

The second reason was that we started off the 1981 season 11-0 which was an MLB record at the time.

Only 20 teams in modern history (since 1901) have produced a season in which five players logged at least 200 innings. All but three of those seasons occurred before 1930.
The exceptions:

1. 1980 Oakland Athletics (Matt Keough, Brian Kingman, Rick Langford, Steve McCatty, Mike Norris)
Record: 83-79
Finish: 2nd in AL West
Runs scored: 686
Runs allowed: 642

2. 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers (Burt Hooton, Tommy John, Doug Rau, Rick Rhoden, Don Sutton)
Record: 98-64
Finish: Lost World Series (4-2) to Yankees
Runs scored: 769
Runs allowed: 582

3. 1957 Detroit Tigers (Jim Bunning, Paul Foytack, Billy Hoeft, Frank Lary, Duke Maas)
Record: 78-76
Finish: 4th in American League
Runs scored: 614
Runs allowed: 614

So, how do the 1980 A’s fair when compared to the teams from long ago? Well, incredibly, Oakland’s 1,261.1 innings logged by their starters stills tops the field. Ye, gods.

That isn’t really fair because the season is longer now. Besides, I already noted IP/GS is a better way than raw IP. When you look at innings per start, a handful of teams do nose out Martin’s bunch, as the chart below reveals:
Year Team IP/GS
1923 NYY 8.03
1922 NYY 7.99
1920 CWS 7.96
1920 BRVS 7.90
1920 PIT 7.81
1932 NYY 7.81
1920 CIN 7.81
1920 BRK 7.81
1980 OAK 7.78
Notice something there? They are almost entirely made up of teams from the early 1920s. That’s interesting. There have been three periods in baseball history when workloads for starting pitchers declined noticeably: 1) In the 1890s when the pitchers were pushed back to 60 feet, 6 inches; 2) In the early 1920s when the lively ball came out; and 3) In the 1990s when pitch counts became all the rage. In each instance, the game changed in a few years, causing managers to adapt to how they used pitchers.

So how did Martin run the 1980 A’s? Like someone who hadn’t fully realized the Dead Ball era had ended.

 Part 2>  What was the day like when you took the photo for the Sports Illustrated cover?
It is probably more interesting the effect the SI cover had on me for years after the day it was taken……………
 
The photo was taken in the visitors locker room at Anaheim Stadium. All of us were proud to be on the cover. Perhaps I was a little less proud than the others.
They were all winners, and I was a 20 game loser. 1980 was a nightmare year for me. In fact that was the hardest part of my 20 loss season was that I was losing
while everyone else was winning. Virtually every 20 game loser pitches for a bad team where losing becomes expected . Typically these are 90-100+ loss teams.
In 1980 we were a  winning team (83-79). The last time a pitcher lost 20 game was in 1922 when Dolf Luque was 13-23 for the Cincinnati Reds. dolf
  Misery Loves Company
The last pitcher before me to lose 20 games for a winning team  might have had some good advice for me. Trouble is he died in 1957.
 
They say misery loves company, but I had to suffer in solitude. While the other guys enjoyed the thrill of victory I had to endure the agony of defeat. Sports Illustrated
gave each of us a framed blow up of the cover but, I couldn’t look at it for at least ten years. Not only did it remind me of the 1980 season, but when my career was
over looking at the cover made me dwell on how different things may have turned out if I had won 14-15 games instead of losing 20.
Just as dramatic as the 1979 A’s turnaround from last place in 1979 to second place in 1980, was my turnaround from 8-7 In 1979 to 8-20 in 1980:

Who was the last rookie starting pitcher with a minimum of 15 decisions to have a winning record on a team with at least 100 losses?

Answer: Brian Kingman, 1979
Brian Kingman was 8-7 for the 1979 Oakland A’s who were 54-108. Before that Tom Seaver was 16-13 for the 1967 NY Mets who were 61-101. Kingman ironically went on to become a 20 game LOSER the very next season going 8-20 for the A’s. Not only did he remain the last 20 game loser for 23 years until Mike Maroth lost 21 for the Tigers in 2003 he did it for a winning team, the A’s were 83-79. The last time that happened was in 1922 when Dolf Luque lost 20 for the Cincinnati Reds.

16 Comments

How in the world does a question about the SI cover explode into freaking epiphanies on managing pitchers spanning three centuries? Aha, it takes two to tango; the interviewer and the intervieweeee. This is the MC5 kick out the jams of baseball interviews. Now get back on the horse and do another one. Awesome.

I’m leaning towards ex pitcher Jim Nash. We’ll see how that works out.

I see he was born in nevada. Wonder if he still lives there? wonder if he has a gambling habit or would be willing to get one. Road trip with Nash? But seriously, I hope you make that happen. You got a skill in this interviewing thing!

HA HA! hardly. Did you see my “interview” with Dick Green? It was embarrassing to the point of hilarity…so of course, I had to print it.

I’m on my way to the putting green, but what can you expect from a guy named Dick. Kingman on the other hand. He brings out the shine. But don’t kid yourself man. You’re doing it. You’re getting the interviews. That’s half the obstacle. You already got the writing skill. Alright, enough praise. They’re making me throw batting practice today.

Speaking of BP…I went to my first game on Sunday…Dodgers/Tigers…and this Monday A’s/Angels. Oh, how I despise Anaheim stadium or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days.

The Angels are dangerous with all these kids impersonating Josh Hamilton. Starts with the all night crack jonesing; a definite gateway drug into stupid head first slides into first base. I think he did the same thing a few years ago only head first into home. Sucker.

My God, Gary. This is great stuff. Brian Kingman has to be one of the most interesting and self-aware baseball players of all time. Reading this interview reminds me a little of the interviews I read in “The Glory of Their Times.”
Fantastic stuff. Definitely looking forward to more like this.
-Bill

Thanks, Bill. That’s quite a compliment. I just read that book a few months ago and couldn’t set it down.

Gary, Is there going to be a 3rd part to this interview? Once I know when you’re done, I’d like to go back and re-blog each piece, if you don’t mind.

I think it will be a 4 part interview. That’s cool….thanks Bill.

Fun to read. Thanks. BTW, I have a copy of that Dolf Luque card buried in a box.

If you don’t want it Bruce you can always send it my way and I’ll give it to Brian himself!!! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Got it. It seems like it would be in real good hands. I’ve had that card since I was a boy, Who could know that someone else would ever want it?

wow. thanks!
my address is:
2419 W. Grand Ave.
Alhambra, Ca.
91801

Reblogged this on The On Deck Circle and commented:
Following up on Part 1 of the Brian Kingman interviews, here’s Part 2. This one’s even better than Part 1.

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