Friday, December 11, 2009

Group of 79 project - Jim King

Man, that Adam Dunn trade reignited my interest in baseball cards. I'm going to start sending out more autograph requests in the near future but need to get caught up on this project.

Jim King joined the Vernon Dusters of the Class D Longhorn League in 1950. Despite being seventeen years old, and likely the youngest player in the league, he hit .302, slugged .480 and finished third in the league with 46 doubles. The St. Louis Cardinals were intrigued by his performance and acquired him from Vernon.

King played Class C ball the next two seasons with late season promotions to higher levels both years. He struggled against the faster company but at age 20 finally put it together at the Class A level. In his second season at Omaha, in 1954, King finished 9th in the league in batting with a .314 average and was second in the league in total bases.

The Chicago Cubs claimed King from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft. He spent the next two seasons playing the corner outfielder positions for the Cubbies where his performance was unspectacular. The Cardinals reacquired him by trading two players for him before the 1957 season but he spent most of the season in the minors. The Giants then dealt for him but mid-season gave him to Toronto of the International League.

Despite King's terrific start as a professional, his early to mid-twenties saw him struggle more than he had success. In 1960, the Cleveland Indians acquired his rights but kept him in Toronto. At age 27, King recaptured his earlier level of performance. King was named the International League MVP as he hit .289 with 24 home runs and helped lead the Maple Leafs to an International League Championship. His .878 OPS led the league.

This would be the last time King would see the minor leagues. The expansion Washington Senators took him as one of six players from the Indians. He would then spend the next seven seasons as an outfielder in Washington, playing often but never establishing himself as a regular outfielder. On May 26, 1954, King became the only Senator (in this incarnation and before they relocated to Texas) to hit for the cycle. The triple in that game was the only one he hit in 1964.

King was dealt twice during the 1967 season, first to Chicago, then to Cleveland. At the conclusion of the 1967 season, King was released and his professional career ended.

Thanks to Mr. King for signing a card for me.

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