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Cubs historical sleuthing: Dave Kingman edition

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Turns out there’s another story to tell you about this photo besides the date of the game.

This photo, quite obviously, is Dave Kingman after hitting a home run in a road game. Bill Buckner has scored ahead of him and Manny Trillo is waiting to congratulate him at the plate.

So, where and when was this?

The scoreboard is the first clue. It’s hard to read the entire name of the home team, but given the letters visible — and also, I recognize it from the time — that’s Dodger Stadium.

Kingman hit home runs in six games at Dodger Stadium as a Cub. Only two of them were day games, though, and this is obviously a day game.

As it turns out, this was a very famous game for a reason other than Kingman. What you are seeing here is Kingman crossing the plate after homering with Buckner on base in the top of the sixth inning Sunday, May 14, 1978, off Doug Rau. As you can see on the board, the homer brought the Cubs within one run at 3-2.

With the score 7-5 in the top of the ninth and two out and a runner on base, Kingman homered for the second time in the game, tying the score 7-7.

It remained 7-7 until the top of the 15th inning, when, again with two out and this time with two men on base, Kingman put another baseball out of Dodger Stadium and the Cubs won 10-7. It was the first of three three-homer games Kingman had as a Cub.

But the reason this game is famous is because of a radio interview of Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda after the game by a young L.A. radio reporter named Paul Olden. Here’s the story as told to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times in 2015:

On May 14, 1978, Olden simply wanted a comment he could feed to his radio station — KLAC, a country station in Los Angeles — after a 15-inning Dodgers loss to the Chicago Cubs. Kingman, the Cubs’ left fielder, had slugged three homers and driven in eight runs in a Mother’s Day game that stretched more than five hours.

“I was in the front row with my arm extended, holding the microphone, and no one was asking about the main thing from that day: the three home runs by Dave Kingman,” Olden said. I just needed a quick sound bite, 10 or 15 seconds, and then get the heck out of there.

“So I sort of innocently asked his opinion of Kingman’s performance. A minute and a half later, he’s still talking.”

And not just talking. Lasorda immediately repeated the question, and did so 10 more times, lacing cuss words throughout. At one point he conceded he was mad and had not given a good answer, to which Olden replied, “It wasn’t a good question.”

Here’s the entire Lasorda answer.

(Here is the NSFW uncensored version of Lasorda’s rant.)

The Dodgers had the last laugh that year, winning the NL pennant before losing to the Yankees in the World Series.

Paul Olden, incidentally, also did pretty well. He’s been the PA announcer at Yankee Stadium since the newest version of that ballpark opened in 2009.