Mets First Basemen
First base was occupied by some big names over the years including fan favorites Marv Throneberry and Ed Kranepool. But the Mets did have some big boppers like Donn Clendenon, John Milner, Dave Kingman, John Olerud, Carlos Delgado, and, now, Pete Alonso. Oh, yeah, some guy named Keith did a fairly good job around that bag. But of them all, only one of them played multiple times for the club.
Dave Kingman (4, 26) came to the Mets originally as a cast-off from the San Francisco Giants. The team with a history of big boppers – Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Bonds – apparently didn’t value the potential he had to follow their paths. Kingman’s moonshots out of the pitchers’ haven known as Shea Stadium earned him the nicknames of Sky King and Kong to the media and fans. Other than Tom Seaver, he was the first player to come to the Mets for whom you never wanted to miss a pitch.
He could hit and, believe it or not, he was versatile. He played first base, third base, and the outfield – not great, mind you – but well enough to put some of the players who play today to shame. Kong blasted a club record 36 home runs in 1975 and then topped that with 37 in 1976.
And then he was sent packing during the “Midnight Massacre” on June 15, 1977, when M. Donald Grant decided to get rid of all his “problem children.” The new ownership brought him back prior to the 1981 season and he hit another 72 homers over the next three seasons. But he was the only offensive force with no protection for two seasons and then had no place to play once Keith Hernandez arrived in 1983. One has to wonder what Kingman would have done had he been playing today.
Mike Jorgensen (10, 16, 22) was an excellent first baseman who was also an above-average centerfielder. The local Queens product originally debuted as a 19-year-old in 1968, did not appear during the 1969 season but was getting some decent playing time in 1970 and ’71.
Jorgensen was one of the three players included in the trade with the Expos to acquire Rusty Staub. He came back to play with the Mets from 1980 to ’83 and was reliable yet unspectacular, often sharing first base duties with Kingman until the arrival of Hernandez.