A simple, yet inquisitive letter to former baseball player Brian Kingman

History was unearthed for a few bucks.

Hey man…I bought this little pin at a garage sale, and it happened to be attached to a ticket stub. After some research on the Baseball Almanac, you actually pitched that day! You tossed 7 innings giving up 2 earned, but unfortunately lost to Dave Steib who pitched a CG giving up only 1 in a game the A’s eventually lost 3-1. Do you have any additional information? I had reservations that you would remember a Monday game from the Coliseum in 1982, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

I do remember the game, but as you mentioned there was really nothing notable about the game itself, that I can recall. What I do remember about the game is that it was a scenario I was too familiar with. Dave Steib was sharp that day, and although I was pitching well enough to win most games, this wasn’t going to be one of them.

The game was played at a time when the players already knew Billy would not be returning to the A’s, but it was not public knowledge. These were the waning days of the Billy Ball Era, which was a bit of a phenomenon, but that time had now clearly passed. The game was played about a week after Billy had demolished his office. Rumors had been circulating for a few weeks that Billy wanted out of his contract with the A’s and apparently the A’s did not want to let Billy go. So Billy tore up his office, made some insulting remarks about the owners, and got what he wanted, which was a chance to manage the Yankees again. Steinbrenner had seen his success with the A’s and Billy could see from the way the 1982 season had gone that he had pretty much run his pitching staff into the ground. The future looked dim for Oakland and the grass looked much greener in New York.

I think Billy had been considering his departure from the A’s for a few months prior to the office incident. By mid-season he seemed less focused and intense than the previous years. I believe one of the symptoms of this can be seen in a game of June 23rd of the 1982 season. Billy picked a lineup out of a hat in a game we were playing against a division rival (KCR) Turns out he has done this before, but it seemed way out of character for the Billy Martin we knew. (ed note: Kingman lost that game as well, giving up 1 in 8 innings, but the terrible Oakland club managed only 4 hits and lost 1-0.) 

 

7 Comments

That is an awesome pin, with ball and glove on chain. Six bucks for a field level seat on Labor Day afternoon. Dave Steib pitched a 2-hitter. Tony Armas broke up no-hit bud with homer in 7th. The other hit was a Jeff Burroughs single.

I didn’t want to add the other information because I thought it would clutter the piece but I think you did an excellent job Simba! I know you love baseball history so this was right up your alley.

Battling Billy! — I don’t know about you, but I miss the days of yore when baseball players, and managers and umps, openly feuded on the field, in the dugout, in the dressing room, and in Billy’s case, even after games in the bars. Love him or hate him Billy Martin was pure entertainment!

Today, I think baseball misses the mark in trying to suppress individual personalities no matter their antics. In my mind they add much needed color to today’s more emotionally suppressed and tempered-down game. I miss the on field temper tantrums, the sand kicking, base throwing, team brawls, and what about bat-flips? What ever happened to MLB’s promotional promise of “Let the Kids Play?” — Baseball needs something to spark it up again. Maybe a little old school allowed attitude, wouldn’t hurt?

Wayne, I hereby nominate you for comissioner of baseball. You can’t do any worse than that suck-up Manfred.

Love the pin!

Enjoyed this read, especially the insights on Billy Martin.

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