The invariable Oakland DH…a strange and funny day.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES“Strikeouts are boring–besides that they’re fascist.”–Crash Davis

I could only laugh when I received these autographs in the mail on the same day…It was uncanny. Both players “played” DH for the Athletics towards the end of their career and both struck out A LOT. These guys struck out so much that both led the league three times. It was enough to make an old school tyrant like Ty Cobb, who preached contact and speed, turn over in his grave. Yet both players also had amazing power and could hit the ball a country mile.

Cust bounced around from team to team and played in the minor leagues for 10 years before getting his shot. He was acquired from the Padres for cash as the A’s needed a DH due to an injury to Mike Piazza. (another horrible position player.) Cust quickly endeared himself to A’s fans by hitting 6 home runs in his first 7 games. “John Joseph” was an effective DH, and had a nice ending to his career from 2007-2010 for the Athletics. You can see why Billy Beane liked the guy from a statistical standpoint as he walked a lot and had a high OBP. This was a very strange dichotomy, and Cust will go down as one of the more unique players in MLB history. (Adam Dunn was another who led the league in both categories, and was also a Oakland DH this season…conspiracy theories anyone?)

Mike_Royko

Mike Royko

Dave “King Kong” Kingman needs no introduction to most baseball fans. He hit 442 tape measure jobs and gave a rat in a box to a female reporter. Kingman wasn’t known for his sunny disposition and had a personality former Mets teammate John Stearns compared to a tree trunk, complaining that “when you talk to him all he does is grunt.”  “Dave Kingman was like a cavity that made your whole mouth sore,” said another former teammate Bill Caudill. Ol’ Dave constantly quarreled with reporters and even dumped ice water on one. Another reporter said he was “an unquestionable slugging talent with a puzzling psyche marked ‘fragile.'” Kingman regularly insisted he was misquoted, and he began appearing regularly in the Chicago Tribune as the nominal author of a ghost-written column. Mike Royko, then writing for the rival Chicago Sun-Times, parodied Kingman’s column with a series using the byline “Dave Dingdong.” (A bit of Royko’s parody column…Hi, I’m Dave Dingdong and you’re not. I really don’t have to introduce someone as well known as me. But for those who have been living in a cave, I’m the tall, dark, handsome left fielder who hits those towering homers. I’d be a standout anywhere, but especially in Wrigley Field, because most of my teammates are nothings. . . . You might wonder why I’ve broken my legendary silence. Well, I’m a frank and honest person. And to be frnk and honest, I’ll do anything for a buck, even break my legendary silence. And if you wonder why I’ve been silent for so long, it’s because basically I’m a shallow, self-centered person who has few ideas and nothing to say.Sometimes they boo when I drop a fly ball. Why should dropping a ball be a big deal? Or sometimes they’ll boo when I throw the ball, and that’s really unbelievable. A few weeks ago in Houston, I made a really fantastic throw. It went over the third baseman’s head. Our pitcher was backing him up, and it went over his head too. Then it sailed all the way into the dugout and went up the player’s ramp. Now, how many people do you know that can throw a ball that far? Even the sportswriters said they never saw a throw like that before. But then they criticized me for it – for doing something they never saw before. No wonder I can’t stand sportswriters. They don’t appreciate originality.) Kingman eventually quarreled with his own ghostwriter. Kingman may have wasted his talent and by all accounts he was a jerk, but you didn’t buy a beer when he was due up. Even on the downside he was worth the price of admission. He was entertaining as hell, that’s for sure, even if it was somewhat in the entertaining-the-way-a-car-wreck-is-entertaining fashion.

With a career total of 442 home runs, Kingman was the first person with over 400 home runs not to make the Hall of Fame

6 Comments

One of my big thrills as a Mets fan growing up in the early ’80s was watching Kingman mash balls into the parking lot in front of 5,000 screaming fans. The Mets hung him out to dry when they got Keith Hernandez and thus he was off the roster by the time the team got good.

You also did not want to park your car on Waveland Avenue when Kingman was batting. As kids, we saw plenty of baseballs sail out of Wrigley Field on Kingman’s contact. He could hit the ball a city mile too.

Bizarre wonderful those autographs arriving on the same day. When you sent the cards out did you have the Cust and Kingman similarities in mind?

I guess this Cust Kingman is a species unique to baseball. I overheard an announcer earlier this season wondering if players like Mark Reynolds would become obsolete as pitchers fine tuned their locations and defenses shifted even more they do now.

That’s all fine and dandy I thought, but Mark Reynolds still hits home runs and ya gotta figure some team will always grab players like him. My favorite of that ilk was Russel Branyon.I seen him hit one off the Miller Park Scoreboard. Nice post Gary!

Steve, thanks again for sending me these..much appreciated.
I sent out a bunch of the batch I received based on the addresses I could conjure up, so it was very random.

Yeh, you’re welcome Gary. I’ve found a few more and when I get back to Milwaukee and sort through boxes, there will probably be some more. I didn’t get a chance when I was there a few months ago. I need to set aside like 3 days, but anyway Sheesh, I didn’t realize that the autographs were from the batch I sent. That’s great.

I loved Kingman during his first time with the Mets. I don’t care about his personality. He was one of the most colorful players to ever wear a New York Mets uniforms.

Glen

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