50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Donn Clendenon's Hot July Start
50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
The Mets acquired Donn Clendenon on the 1969 June trade deadline. The team was lacking the run producing, slugger Clendenon was. He was slowly put into the line up, as a pinch runner, pinch hitter & then in the platoon with Ed Kranepool at first base. He would score runs in his first two games but overall have just four hits in his first 22 Met at bats.
On June 29th 1969 he drove in three runs & totaled four RBIs in his first two weeks. Then at the start of July, he went on a six game tear from July 1st to July 6th.
Clendenon would collect ten hits, driving in ten runs, with three runs scored, a HR & three extra base hits. The Mets won four of six in that stretch, with two more wins dating back to his three RBI game on June 29th.
July 1st 1969: The Mets dropped a twin bill in St. Louis to the Cardinals. It was in that second game Clendenon began his hitting tear for the week. He collected two hits with a pair of RBIs. In the July 2nd 6-4 win highlighted by Wayne Garrett's four RBI game, Clendenon drove in a run with two more hits.
Thursday July 3rd 1969- The Mets came off that double header loss taking the previous nights game, on this day they evened the series & left St. Louis going 2-2. The Mets sent Gary Gentry to the hill to face veteran Mud Cat Grant.
Gentry would go the distance, nine innings allowing one run on just five hits, he struck out five & walked two to earn his 8th win (8-6). Mud Grant had a tougher time with the Mets line up taking the loss.
Tommie Agee led off the game for New York with a HR. In the 4th, Cleon Jones who was batting .355 atop the NL, singled. Art Shamsky followed with a double & then Grant walked Wayne Garrett to load the bases. The man with the hot bat, the newest Met, Donn Clendenon singled to left field brining on two runs, making it 3-0.
Grant walked three more & threw a wild pitch in the inning, getting relieved after it was 5-0 Mets.
In the 5th Jones & Clendenon singled, Jerry Grote & Al Weis followed with base hits driving in both runners making it 7-0. Ken Boswell added an RBI double in the 8th, topping off the Mets 8-1 win.
Friday July 4th 1969: The Mets (43-34) now ten games over .500 moved on to Pittsburgh for an Independence Day game with the Pirates (38-41) at Forbes Field, in its final season. The leagues top Pitcher, Tom Seaver went on the mound for the Mets against Bob Veale.
In the Mets 2nd, Rod Gaspar reached on an error & advanced to second, he came all the way home on Jerry Grote's base hit. In the 3rd, Bobby Pfeil doubled to left field, Cleon Jones then drove him in with another base hit.
In the 4th, the Pirates got two runs off Seaver, including Willie Stargell's 11th HR of the season. Stargell would hit 29 HRs & drive in 92 runs in 1969.
In the 5th, Pfeil walked & Cleon Jones doubled putting two men on for the hot hitting Clendenon. Clendenon doubled to right field, driving in both runners making it 5-2. Al Weis brought in Clendenon with a double of his own.
In the 8th, Tommie Agee hit his second HR on as many days, his 12th of the year. Jerry Grote added an RBI single bringing in Rod Gaspar with the Mets eighth run. In the 9th the Mets sent eight men to the plate, collecting three more runs & six more hits in the inning. All this with two outs.
It began when Jerry Grote walked, Al Weis singled, pitcher Cal Koonce who had relieved Seaver in the 8th, then drove in a run with a base hit. Tommie Agee & Bobby Pfiel followed with RBI base hits of their own to make it 11-4 Mets.
The win gave Tom Seaver his league leading 13th of the year (13-3), he had now won seven straight & was already the Mets all time leading pitcher in wins with 45, just ahead of Al Jackson. In this game he went 7.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, three walks & seven Ks, his season ERA was at 2.62.
Sunday July 6th 1969: Gil Hodges Mets were now a solid ten games over .500 as they closed out the series at Forbes Field. Neither of todays starters, Jim McAndrew for the Mets & Luke Walker for Pittsburgh would fare too well.
In the top of the 1st,Bobby Pfeil would single for the Mets. The hot hitting Donn Clendenon then doubled to right field scoring Pfeil with the Mets first run.
In the bottom of the frame, McAndrew walked two Pirates & gave up an RBI hit to Roberto Clememte & then a three run HR to catcher Jerry May. Clemente would have a two RBI base hit the next inning, making it 6-1 Pirates.
The Mets collected two runs in the 4th with RBI singles from Jerry Grote & Ron Swoboda. In the 5th inning, the Glider, Ed Charles hit a HR to narrow the Pirate lead to 6-4.
The Mets bullpen of Danny Frisella, Ron Taylor & Cal Koonce kept the Pirates scoreless, the rest of the way. The Mets struck back in the top of the 6th. Singles by Al Weis & Ron Swoboda put two men for Cleon Jones. Jones, who was batting .354 singled bringing in Weis with his team leading 51st RBI of the season.
Next up, the hot Donn Clendenon hit a three run HR, to put New York in front 8-6. Clendenon's HR was just his 5th on the year, his forst since joining the Mets. He now had 29 RBIs on the season with 11 in the past week & 15 runs driven in since joining the Mets.