Dec 7, 2015

Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder: Gene Clines (1975)

Eugene Antony Clines was born October 6, 1946 in San Pablo, California. The speedy outfielder was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth round of the 1966 draft. He was a good defensive outfielder with speed but never was able to make it as an everyday player.

He was as a reserve outfielder on some good Pirate teams of the early seventies, winning four NL East titles & a World Series in his five seasons there. In 1970 he batted .310 while stealing 32 bases at AA Waterbury getting promoted to the Pirates club where he went 15 for 37 good for a .405 average, while stealing two bases. In the 1971 Pirates championship season, Clines was a very valuable reserve player. He appeared in 97 games batting .308 while stealing 15 bases with 12 doubles, 4 triples, and 24 RBIs.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the 1971 NLCS he hit a rare HR off the San Francisco Giants Jim Barr at Candlestick Park. He went 1-3 in the game, which was his only Series start.

In Game #4 he got a 7th inning pinch hit single, which scored Manny Sanguillen with the games tying run. He then scored the winning run on Ritchie Zisk’s base hit.

In the World Series he went 1-11 (0.91) but drew a walk & scored a run, appearing in three Series games against the Baltimore Orioles. In Game #5 he tripled to lead off the Pirates 5th inning and then scored on Roberto Clemente’s base hit in the 4-0 Pirate win.

In 1972 he hit .334 with 104 hits playing in 107 games. His speed got him six triples, 12 stoles bases, 5 doubles & 52 runs scored. His average dropped to .263 in 1973 & then to .225 in 1974. He never hit for any power in those five years he had only 2 HRs in over 1150 at bats. At the end of the 1974 season, he was traded to the New York Mets for popular backup catcher Duffy Dyer.

There was some hype when Clines arrived, as the Mets believed the speedy Clines along with another new acquisition; Del Unser, would be able to fill their center field void.

Clines was the Mets lead off man playing left field on Opening Day 1975 but struggled early on, batting just .146 at the end of May. In June he got himself over the .200 mark, driving in runs in two games during the final week of the month.

In early August he drove in a run getting a start in the second game of a double header against his old Pittsburgh Pirates team mates. The next day he drove in two more runs, unfortunately the Mets lost both games. 

He never really got it going as he played in 82 games that season but hit a measly .225. He hit four doubles, three triples with no HRs & only ten RBIs. It was a short lived Mets career as they sent him to Texas that December for Joe Lovitto.

Clines went to Texas and hit .276, then moved to the Chicago Cubs where he had his best season. In 1977 he hit .293 with career highs in HRs (3) doubles (12) and RBIs (41) in only 293 at bats. After another full season in 1978 he played in 101 games batting .258 with ten doubles but just 17 RBIs. Clines retired after just ten games in 1979.

In a 10 year career he was a .277 lifetime hitter with 645 hits, 85 doubles, 24 triples, 5 HRs 187 RBIs &71 stolen bases.

Retirement: After his playing days, Clines became a coach with the Chicago Cubs for two seasons.

Then he moved on to hitting coach with the Houston Astros (1988) Seattle Mariners (1989-1992) Milwaukee Brewers (1993-1994) San Francisco Giants (1995-2002) then back to the Cubs (2003-2006).

After 20 years as a hitting coach he became outfield and base running coordinator with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 getting promoted to senior advisor in 2011.

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