50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
Tuesday July 1st 1969: Donn Clendenon had only been with his exciting new Mets team for two weeks. He was to share time in a platoon with Ed Kranepool & then some. Most important Clendenon brought a power bat to a Met line up that desperately needed one.
In his first ten games he had 4 hits in 22 at bats with four RBIs. But as he settled in with his new club & July started Clendenon went on a tear driving in 12 runs over five games, he would collect nine hits, score five runs & hit one HR. The next night he pinch hit & scored the tying run in a crucial game against the first place Cubs.
July 2nd 1969: The Mets took an 8-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in this game, as they dropped both ends of a double header. In the second game Clendenon went 2-2 while driving in a pair of runs with base hits off Mike Torrez & Joe Hoerner.
July 3rd 1969: As the road trip continued in St. Louis, Gil Hodges Mets turned things around. Tonight behind rookie pitcher Gary Gentry's one run five hit complete game, the Mets started what was to be an seven game win streak. The Mets offense provided eight runs, with Tommie Agee & Donn Clendenon leading the way with two runs driven in each. In the 4th inning Clendenon provided a two run single.
July 4th 1969: As America celebrated it's Independence Day, the Mets were to open a series at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh with an afternoon double header. Donn Clendenon had spent eight years with the Pirates hitting 106 of his 159 HRs with the team.
It was his first return to the Steel City since his highly publicized trade to Houston that led him to Montreal & eventually New York, after the Commissioner had to step in & Donn opted to retire. The Pirates were on their way to a being a powerhouse winning five of the next seven NL East titles, interrupted both times by the New York Mets (1969 & 1973).
In this game, Clendenon broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 5th inning with a two run base hit off Bob Veale scoring Bobby Pfeil & Cleon Jones. The Mets went on to an 8-2 win from there behind Tom Seaver & his 13th win. Tommie Agee homered for the second straight game & drove in three runs.
The Mets swept the twin bill but Clendenon sat out the night cap.
On Sunday July 6th 1969: A small crowd of just 11,552 came to Forbes Field for the series finale. The Mets completed the sweep, with Clendenon providing the go ahead winning runs once again. In the 1st inning Clendenon doubled in Bobby Pfiel with the Mets first run. By the 6th inning, the Mets were down 6-4 after Jim McAndrew & Nolan Ryan served up all six Pirate runs.
Ron Swoboda & Jerry Grote both singled. With two outs Clendenon stepped in & hit his first HR as a New York Met, a three run shot that proved to be the game winner. This was the production the Mets had hoped for when Gil Hodges went after Donn Clendenon.
Tuesday July 8th 1969: On this day the second place Mets now just 4 1/2 games back, hosted the first place Chicago Cubs. The were down 3-1 in the 9th inning, Mets after Fergie Jenkins had held the Mets down to just one run. But Ken Boswell, doubled & Clendenon came in to pinch hit.
He hit a shot to left center field that outfielder Don Young could not get to. The ball popped out as he ran into the Shea outfield wall. Clendenon was credited with a double but Boswell had to hold up at third. Cleon Jones then doubled down thee left field line with Clendenon scoring the tying run. The Mets won it on Ed Kranepool's walk off hit. This sent a huge message that the Mets were for real.
Clendenon's bat was crucial to the Amazing Mets Championship from the day he arrived until the champagne was popped at Shea Stadium in October. In the September stretch Clendenon would hit 7 HRs with13 RBIs. He would be the 1969 World Series MVP as well.