Aug 3, 2021

A Look Back at Cleon Jones' Early Seventies Baseball Cards

By 1970 Cleon Jones was a World Series Champion & a contender for the batting title with a .340 average. He was looked at as being the All Star he was from a championship team.

Topps issued Cleon in a regular season card (#575) wearing a Mets road uniform. It appears to be at a Spring Training game on a sunny afternoon, sometime prior to 1969. 

In 1969 Cleon batted .340, third best in the National League. He
was featured in a batting leaders card in the 1970 series, along with Pete Rose & Roberto Clemente.

Cleon was also included in a Kellogg's cereal 3D card, where he swinging a bat at Shea Stadium & a Transogram series of statue cards.

 
Topps also issued a booklet series of 24 different players, displayed in a comic book style, telling a brief story of that players life. Cleon was one of the players to be featured.


In 1971 Topps, issued there classic black border cards. Cleon Jones' card (#527) has him holding a bat in a Mets road uniform before a game in what looks like the old Forbes Field, in Pittsburgh. The back of the card has some good stats about Cleon leading the 1970 Mets in triples & mentioning his two hits in the 1969 All Star Game.

Cleon would also appear in the 1971 Topps coins collection (#103). The coins were issued in three sets, totaling 153 coins in all. The checklist was included in the regular Topps cards sets.



In the colorful 1972 Topps set, Cleon Jones had the honor of having two Topps baseball cards in the main set. A regular issue card (#31) & a special In Action card (#32). The In Action card has Cleon running toward second base at Shea Stadium, with the classic brown bricks of the outfield wall behind him.

The regular issued card, has Cleon swinging a bat on the third base side of Shea Stadium. It must have been a cool day with rain at some point, since the tarp is on the field & Cleon is wearing a jacket under his uniform.


In the great 1973 Topps set, Cleon Jones makes a guest appearance on a classic horizontal action card. The actual Player's card is Bob Didier  (#574) catcher for the Atlanta Braves.

Didier a rookie, was the Braves main catcher in the 1969 season. He became ROY Earl Williams back up catcher & was traded to Detroit by the 1973 season.

This cards photo shows that Cleon Jones had just slid into home plate. He still has his left leg up on Didier's shoulder. As the dust clears, Didier is looking at the umpire, anxiously awaiting his call. In the background Mets catcher Jerry Grote is on deck with his shin guards on, in case this is the third out.

The picture was taken in 1971, as Didier did not play in any games at Shea Stadium in 1972.

It was a beautiful Fourth of July day game at Shea where  27,451 fans came to see two future Hall of Famers pitch. Unfortunately in this game Phil Neikro beat Tom Seaver 2-0 in a two hour & sixteen minute contest. 

So that means that Cleon Jones was called out at the plate. Yes, in the bottom of the 4th inning Jones singled to centerfield. He advanced to second on a groundout by Kenny Boswell. Next, third baseman Bob Aspromonte singled & Jones attempted to score but was called out at home. In this game Hank Aaron homered. 

In Cleon Jones 1973 regular issue Topps baseball card (#540) he is holding a bat in a still shot outside the Mets dugout area. The picture was taken on a sunny afternoon at Shea during batting practice.

Notice the protective fence around the first base area. In the background is the classic Shea scoreboard of the early seventies, when it still had its beautiful white background. Notice the classic Mets logo in the center cube & the Rheingold beer ad to the left. Also look how proudly the American Flag is waving in the Shea wind.

Cleon appears to have a batting glove in his back pocket & his fielding glove is laying on the ground. 

This picture was most likely taken in 1972 since Cleon is sporting his moustache & that was the first season since the 1800's where players donned facial hair thanks to the "Swingin' Oakland A's. 

The backs of the '73 cards, featured little trivia information of
the player on the card. Here we learn, Cleon's wife is cousin to Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, Billy Williams.




In 1974 (#245) he was featured in action, swinging at a pitch in a game at Shea, with the Mets
dugout looking on. He was also 
in the Topps stamps series that year. The back of the card mentions his hot hitting during the 1973 Mets pennant stretch & his double in Game #5 of the NLCS clincher over the Reds.

In the 1974 series, Topps issued a beautiful series of World Series & Playoff cards. Jones is featured in the Game #5 card (#476), as he is scoring from third base, with A's catcher Ray Fosse awaiting the throw. Mets catcher Jerry Grote is holding his hands in the air, telling Jones he doesn't have to slide.



In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Cleon doubled off A's pitcher Vida Blue. He then scored on John Milner's base hit to right field. The Mets won the game 2-0 behind Jerry Koosman's 6.1 inning of shut out ball & Tug McGraw's 2.2 inning save.

In the colorful popular, 1975 Topps set, Cleon is featured in his last Mets baseball card (#43). He is pictured holding a bat before a game at Shea Stadium. He is also featured in the Topps mini series (#43) that year as well.


Cleon also had another Kellogg's cereal card (#21) that year & was featured in a Hostess series. The cards were issued on the backs / bottoms of Hostess cake products, with three players lined up together. Jones was featured with the Red's Cesar Geronimo & the White Sox, Jorge Orta.



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