Dec 8, 2020

Gene Clines: Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder (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. Pirate broadcaster Bob Prince, use to call him "Little Angry".

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.

1971 Post Season- NLCS: 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.

1971 World Series:
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. 

1972 NLCS: He got into three games of the NLCS loss to the Reds going 0-2. In Game #3 at Three Rivers Stadium,  he came in to pinch run for Willie Stargell in a tie game, the bottom of the 8th inning. He advanced to third on Al Olivers double & scored what was the winning run on a force play.

His average dropped to .263 in 1973 & then to .225 in
1974. The Pirates won their fourth NL East title in five years in 1974. losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS. Oliver scored another run in that NLCS, after entering as a pinch runner once again. 

Oliver, never hit for any power in those five years in Pittsburgh,  as 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 he would struggled early on, batting just .146 by the end of May. In June he finally got himself over the .200 mark, driving in runs in  back to back games he played in, during the final week of the month.

On August 3rd, in double header loss in Pittsburgh, Clines tripled off John Candelaria & drove in a run against his old Pirates team mates. The next day, he got another start & drove in two runs, against the Expos in another Mets loss. He would drive in two runs again, on August 31st in loss at Dodger Stadium.
Clines, never really got it going as a Met, he played in 82 games that season but hit just .225. He hit four doubles, three triples with no HRs & ten RBIs. He stole four bases in four attempts & scored 25 runs. 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, playing in 116 games that year. He 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. He had another full season in Chicago in 1978, where he played in 101 games batting .258 with ten doubles but drove in just 17 runs. 

In 1979 he appeared in ten games with the Cubs, which would be the end of his playing career.

In a ten year career he was a .277 lifetime hitter, with 645 hits, 85 doubles, 24 triples, 5 HRs 187 RBIs 314 runs scored &71 stolen bases.

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

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

'71 Pirates Honored in 2011-
Al Oliver, Clines & Dave Cash

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.

Honors: Clines was on hand in Pittsburgh for many reunions of the early seventies Pirates Championship team.

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