Thursday, July 27, 2006
Dave Kingman Will Soon Lose His Footnote Status
Over 16 Major League seasons spent with seven teams, Dave Kingman slugged 442 home runs. He retired in 1986, a year in which he hit 35 homers and drove in 94 runs for the Oakland A's.
Mark McGwire, meanwhile, made his Major League debut with the very same 1986 Oakland A's. The future Congressional Stonewaller bashed three home runs over 53 September at-bats that season.
The brief overlap of the careers of Kingman and McGwire could be viewed as a passing of the torch, as the one-dimensional Kingman gave way to the equally one-dimensional McGwire. Both men could hit awe-inspiring home runs, but that's about it.
20 years later, Kingman has another torch to pass to McGwire --as an honor that has belonged to Kingman since 1992 will soon be Big Mac's.
That honor? Most career home runs by a Hall of Fame eligible player who has failed to make it to the Hall.
Kingman first appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1992, and the results weren't pretty. He recieved 3 out of a possible 430 votes, and was promptly removed from future ballots. Kingman's inability to make it to the Hall set a new standard -- never before had someone with so many dingers failed to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
In 2007, that will change. McGwire, who hit 583 homers in his steroid-enhanced career, will be on the ballot for the first time. Upon retiring in 2001, he was considered a lock to make it. But the resulting steroid scandal has severely tarnished his reputation. Big Red will be Big Dead to the Hall's voters*.
When this happens, Kingman will no longer hold the distinction of "guy with most homers not in the Hall of Fame". It will be his 1986 teammate, Mark McGwire.
Appropriately, McGwire will be rejected right along with his former "Bash Brother", Jose Canseco. Mr. Juiced also retired with more homers than Kingman (462) and has zero chance of election. In 2010, Fred McGriff and his 493 homers will be rejected, and in 2010 steroid kings Sammy Sosa (588) and Rafael Palmeiro (569) will certainly be excluded from the Hall. Dave Kingman, meanwhile, will just keep falling farther and farther into baseball obscurity.
When the 2007 Hall of Fame votes are tallied, it will be like 1986 all over again. Dave "Kong" Kingman will silently be ceding his throne to Mark McGwire.
Poetic, isn't it? I'm crying as I write this.