One of the great time wasters, at least for me, is the Baseball Reference site created by Sean Forman. You see, I was one of those kids with his nose buried in a stack of baseball cards wondering just who was the best player back in 1982 (Robin Yount) and wondering why I had not been born blessed with the hand/eye coordination necessary to hit a curve ball. (It didn’t help that my coach was fond of yelling such useful advice as “Stick your leg out a little bit. Getting hit is as good as a hit!”)
Since I do regret my occasional procrastination (at times), I thought I would give myself the illusion of productivity by combing Baseball Reference for things Chinese and, lo and behold, there he was: Harry Lees Kingman, born in
Kingman is the only major leaguer ever to hail from mainland
A Yankee before Babe Ruth was swiped from the Red Sox and thus made being a Yankee cool, Kingman was called up for a cup of 茶 (tea) in June, 1914. In fact, Kingman was a kind of accidental Yankee. He had actually been signed by the Washington Senators whom the Yankees were visiting that summer day. But when Kingman arrived at the ballpark he was told by
That summer the lefthander was a defensive replacement at first base and an occasional pinch hitter. Appearing in four games, he went to bat three times walking once and striking out twice. He recorded three outs in the field. Such is the statistical legacy of Harry Kingman.
Some quick highlights from Timmermann’s piece which is well worth reading in its entirety: After his brief outing that summer, the Yankees wanted to turn the lanky southpaw (He was 6’1—quite tall for the time) into a pitcher but Kingman just didn’t have it in him. After a hitch in the army, Kingman returned to
Harry Lees Kingman died in 1982 in Oakland, California at the age of 90.
Kingman’s legacy is in the archives at the UC Berkeley Regional Oral History Office. In addition to a transcript of an interview with Kingman by Rosemary Levenson, the wife of the brilliant historian Joseph Levenson, there are also the mementos of a lifetime of activism including a handwritten letter to Kingman from Mohandas Gandhi and a postcard from H.G. Wells.
Sources and Additional
Bob Timmermann, “Harry Lees Kingman.” The Baseball Biography Project.
Harry Kingman, Baseball Reference Bullpen