In 1969 Gil Hodges used a very successful platoon system at various positions, most notably at first base. Young veteran Ed Kranepool played against right handers as Donn Clendenon, the teams only true slugger, played against lefties. As a result Clendenon did not play in the Mets three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. But he was sure ready for the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Game #1 Memorial Stadium, Baltimore Maryland: The Amazing Mets won the NL Pennant & were in the World Series. The first game saw their ace Tom Seaver take a 4-1 loss to Mike Cuellar. It was the only post season game the 1969 Mets would lose. The next day they got right back on track. In Game #1 Donn Clendenon was playing first base & batting clean up in the role he would be at in four of the five Series games.
In the 4th inning, he doubled but was stranded on second base. In the 7th he led off with a base hit & came around to score the Mets only run on Al Weis' base hit.
With the O's taking Game #1 they were feeling pretty good, like things were normal. Little did they believe that the same year a man walked on the moon , the Amazing Mets would upset the Mighty Orioles & win the World Series.
Gil Hodges sent Jerry Koosman to the mound against Dave McNally. In the 4th inning, Clendenon led off with a HR off McNally. It was his first post season HR & put the Mets up 1-0. It was his only hit of the game, but Jerry Koosman held the Orioles down to just one run on two hits, he walked three & struck out four. The only run was an RBI base hit from Brooks Robinson in the 7th.
In the 8th the Mets got three straight base hits from Ed Charles, Jerry Grote & the RBI game winner from Al Weis to give the Mets the series tying 2-1 win. Ron Taylor came on for the final out & the save.
Game #3 Shea Stadium, New York: All the excitement surrounding the Amazing Mets came to a true reality as the Mets played their first ever World Series game at home. With the right hander Jim Palmer on the mound for Baltimore, Clendenon sat on the bench as Ed Kranepool got the start. Kranepool hit a HR that day, as did Tommie Agee leading off the Mets 1st inning. Gary Gentry & Nolan Ryan combined on the 5-0 shut out.
Game #4 Shea Stadium, New York: With the Mets now up two games to one, the Worlds Championship was only two games away. What most people thought would never happen was that close, the Mets were smelling a World Series title & the Orioles were stunned.
The excitement was even bigger for Mets fans, as their ace, the best pitcher in MLB was on the mound, ready to earn his first & only World Series win. Seaver pitched ten innings, giving up just one run on six hits while striking out six & walking two.
With the left handed Mike Cuellar on the mound, Clendenon was inserted as the clean up hitter for Gil Hodges Mets. In his first at bat in the 2nd inning, Clendenon gave the Shea crowd a big boost as he led off with a HR off Cuellar. It was the second straight game he homered in. The Mets would score one more run, a walk off bunt base hit scoring Rod Gaspar in the 10th inning. The Mets were now just one win away.
Game #5 Shea Stadium, New York: Today was probably the most memorable & important day in Mets history. It's hard to imagine in this day & age how Amazing, how unlikely & how shocking the 1969 World Series win was for New York & the Mets.
For the clincher Gil Hodges sent Jerry Koosman to the mound, after his Game #2 gem to rematch with Dave McNally. Koosman gave up two HRs in the 3rd inning, to pitcher McNally & Frank Robinson. When he came back into the dugout he told his team, I'm going to hold them right there go out & score some runs.
With the Mets down 3-0 in the 6th inning, Cleon Jones was allegedly nicked in the shoe by a pitch. Mets manager, Gil Hodges walked out of the dugout showing home plate umpire Lou DiMuro a baseball with a shoe polish smudge on it. DiMuro awarded Cleon first base. It was now Donn Clendenon who took charge, blasting a two run HR putting the Mets within a run. The Shea crowd went wild & the team was now ready to win it all. It was his only hit of the game.
Al Weis homered in the 7th to tie it. In the 8th Cleon Jones doubled & scored on Ron Swoboda's double. He scored on an Orioles fielding error to seal the 5-3 victory. The Amazing Mets were World Champions & forever the poster boys for under dogs.
With all the Mets superior pitching, Donn Clendenon won the World Series MVP Award. In four games he had five hits in 14 at bats. He hit three HRs, in three straight games driving in four runs. He added adoube & two walks with four runs scored.