On November 27, 1967 Hodges came back to New York in a trade with Washington for Bill Denehy and $100,000. He came on to manage the Mets in 1968 and spent most of the season just observing what he had to work with. On September 24th he suffered a mild heart attack while in Atlanta. A combination of stress & smoking were key contributors. At the end of the 1968 season it was questionable if he could return in 1969.
During the night cap, Cleon Jones didn’t hustle on a ball that was hit to him on the wet outfield grass. Hodges walked from the dugout toward the pitcher’s mound everyone expecting a pitching change. But he walked past the pitcher’s mound & into left field & exchanged words with Cleon Jones. Then he started walking back to the dugout, with Jones walking a few feet behind him, removed from the game.
Two Mets expected to bring a lot of offense to the line up debuted that day, Rusty Staub whom Hodges had just acquired from Montreal & Jim Fregosi whom Hodges acquired in the Nolan Ryan trade. The game was broadcast nationally on NBC television, as Tom Seaver shut out Doc Ellis & the Pirates 4-0.
Overall the team could not regroup finishing third again at 83-73, thirteen games behind Pittsburgh. The following season the Mets would win another pennant, coming one game short of a World Series title.