Go Figure: Recalling Dave Kingman's Mother's Day '78 heroics
The first Major League Baseball game I ever attended was a doubleheader at Fenway Park in Boston, the day before Mother's Day 1976.
Dad took me and my two brothers to see the Red Sox lose both contests to the Texas Rangers. But the day was a triumph -- seeing the Green Monster and taking in all the other sights and sounds sealed my love for the game. My mom won, too: For what must have seemed like a blissful eternity back at home, she had peace and quiet.
For Cubs fans, Mother's Day 1978 was a special occasion in its own right. On that day, at Dodger Stadium, slugger Dave Kingman smashed 3 home runs and drove in 8 runs to carry the club over Los Angeles, 10-7, in 15 innings.
As you celebrate Mother's Day this year, test your knowledge of the numerous trivia gems stored up in and around that memorable game.
Q1. Kingman was a star baseball and basketball player at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect. He eventually enrolled at the University of Southern California, earning All-American laurels as the team advanced to the College World Series championship. In between, at what Chicago-area college did he play baseball?
Q2. Other than Kingman's 4 hits in seven at-bats, the rest of the Cubs were a combined 7-for-48. Fittingly, however, a future batting champion went 3-for-4 against his former Dodger mates. Who was it?
Q3. The Dodgers were one out away from winning in the ninth inning when Kingman hit a game-tying two-run home run. Also scoring was someone whose 104 runs in 1978 led the National League. He was later dealt to Philadelphia for Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg. Who was it?
Q4. The game's winning pitcher had a 16-16 career record, or 198 wins fewer than his kid brother, also on the Cubs staff. Can you name them both?
Q5. One of six Dodger pitchers on the day was a 30-year-old with 34 career wins. He went on to finish his career, at 46 years old, with 216 wins and 216 losses -- the only 200-game winner in MLB history with a precisely .500 mark. Who was this knuckleballer?
Q6. One of the seven Cub pitchers on the day later won a World Series ring with the Detroit Tigers -- the same year he won the American League MVP and Cy Young awards. Who was it?
Q7. A pair of Dodger outfielders who are credited with exchanging the first "high-five" the previous season both batted once in the game. One went on to become a longtime major league manager, including a four-year stint as the Cubs' skipper. Which of these players is not part of this duo? (Jim Lefebvre, Glenn Burke, Dusty Baker)
Q8. For the Dodgers' starting center fielder, it just wasn't his day. He went 1-for-7 with two whiffs. In fact, he had gone 11 days without hitting one out of the ballpark, but still led the National League with 9 home runs at day's end. Who was this former Cub slugger?
Q9. A light-hitting backup Cub infielder singled with one out in the 15th inning, helping set the stage for Kingman's third home run. With a .213 career batting average, this player's mark was two points shy of that of Mario Mendoza, the journeyman infielder after whom the "Mendoza Line" (. 200 batting average) is rather unfairly named. Can you name the Cub?
Q10. On this day, a legendary Dodger pinch-hitting specialist didn't get a hit when he came to bat. However, in 1979 season he broke the MLB record for most career pinch hits -- a mark that has since been broken. Who was it?
Q11. After the game, Paul Olden, a 24-year-old Los Angeles radio reporter, innocently ignited a profanity-laced tirade from Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda by asking him, "What's your opinion about Kingman's performance?"
The Chicago-born Olden is now the public address announcer for which MLB team? (Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs)
To moms everywhere, including those who cherish peace and quiet as much as my mom has for her 56 years of motherhood: Happy Mother's Day!
1. Harper College; 2. Bill Buckner; 3. Ivan DeJesus; 4. Paul and Rick Reuschel; 5. Charlie Hough; 6. Willie Hernandez; 7. Jim Lefebvre; 8. Rick Monday; 9. Mick Kelleher; 10. Manny Mota; 11. Yankees.
• Matt Baron is an Oak Park-based freelance writer. He supplements his baseball brainpower with Retrosheet.org for much of this research.