Oct 16, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Amazing Mets World Series MVP- Donn Clendenon

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

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. He would be in that batting position in four of the five Series games.

In his first Series at bat he struck out. Then, the 4th inning, he doubled to left center field with two outs, 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.

Game #2 Memorial Stadium, Baltimore Maryland:
With the O's taking Game #1 they were feeling pretty good, like things were normal in the universe. 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 his first at bat in the 2nd inning, Clendenon walked. He was forced out on Ed Charles grounder.

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. 

The excitement level was off the charts at Shea as the Mets 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 deep HR over the left field wall, into the back of the Orioles bullpen off Cuellar. 

It was the second straight game he homered in. 

He would strike out in the 4th inning & ground out to the pitcher in the 7th. 

In the 9th he struck out with Cleon Jones on second base & one out.

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. 

Donn walked in the 1st inning, with two outs. Tommie Agee had walked earlier & they were both stranded when RonSwoboda struck out.

Koosman gave up two HRs in the 3rd inning, to pitcher McNally & Frank Robinson. 

When Koosman 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 on 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 batted .357 going 5 for 14 with two walks. He hit three HRs, in three straight games driving in four runs. He added a double& scored four runs.

Donn received a brand new 1970 Dodge Charger for his efforts.

"Super" Joe McEwing- 2000 NL Champion Mets Utility Player (2000-2003)

Joseph Earl McEwing was born October 17, 1972 in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The five foot ten right hand hitter was drafted down in the 28th round of the 1992 draft, by the St. Louis Cardinals. It took him seven years in minor leagues before he got his chance in the big leagues.

 In 1998 he was still at AA where he hit .354, after getting promoted up to AAA Memphis he hit .334.

In 1999 he made the Cards team after a strong Spring Training. He would play in 152 games as Tony Larussa’s all around guy, playing 96 games at second base & 66 games in the outfield. He came in fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. McEwing hit a solid .275 with 9 HRs, 28 doubles, four triples & 44 RBIs.

At the end of Spring Training in 2000 he was sent to the New York Mets for 47 year old Jesse Orosco who was in camp trying out for a Mets roster spot.

In New York he became known as “Super Joe” to the fans as Bobby Valentine used him in the outfield (52 games), third base (19 games) second base (16 games) & at short (4 games). McEwing debuted on May 13th batting leadoff in a home game against the Marlins. 

He got his first Mets hit that day as well. On may 21st he hit one of his two HRs on the year, leading a Mets come back rally against the Arizona Diamond Backs.

His other HR came in Toronto during inter-league play, as he hit a two run HR off Pasqual Coco and later drove in another run on a fielder's choice.

On July 19th he helped the Mets come from behind with an 8th inning pinch hit base hit driving in two runs, to put the Mets ahead in the 5-4 win. On that road that week he got a chance to play often & he made the best of it driving in runs in four straight games.

Overall hit .222 with two HRs but had 14 doubles & 19 RBIs in 87 games in the 2000 Mets N.L. pennant season.

2000 Post Season: In the post season he was primarily used as a pinch runner & defensive replacement. He was successful in those roles as he scored three runs. McEwing did get two official at bats getting a hit in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. 

2000 NLCS: In the NLCS he scored a run in the first two games, both Mets wins at St. Louis. 

2000 World Series: In the World Series he appeared in three games, going 0-1 in Game #1 as a pinch hitter. In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, he scored the Mets fourth run in the bottom of the 8th inning, on Bubba Trammell's sac fly.

In 2001 he had his best season hitting .283, posting a .342 on base percentage while leading the team in hits by pitches (10). He got into 116 games, hitting 8 HRs with 17 doubles, three triples 30 RBIs, 41 runs scored & stole eight bases.

Super Joe soon became a fan favorite, another folk type hero, & very popular around Shea Stadium. On April 17th with the Mets down 5-3 in St. Louis, McEwing blasted a two run top of the 9th inning HR off Steve Kline. The Mets would mount a 6-5 winning comeback.

On June 10th he hit his second HR & had a three RBI day in an interleague game at Tampa. Four days later he hit a HR off Andy Petite during the subway series & then drew a bases loaded walk off Ted Lilly two days later in an 8-7 Mets win.

On June 27th he led another comeback at Wrigley Field with a two run HR off Kerry Wood. He got himself over the .300 mark in July with a ten game streak, hitting safely in 15 of 18 games.

In an August series at Shea Stadium, against the Milwaukee Brewers he continued his hot hitting. He first drove in a pair of runs in a 3-0 win in the Opener. In the next game he hit a 7th inning HR breaking a 3-3 tie, with what turned out to be the winning run.

In the first game played after the 911 attacks, McEwing scored the first Mets run with a solo HR off  the Pirates; David Williams in Pittsburgh. In the 5th he doubled, driving in Jay Payton but was thrown out at third base, the Mets went on to a 7-5 win.

In 2002 he struggled batting just .199 but still got into 105 games. In 2003 he hit .241, walking 25 times posting a .309 on base%. In 119 games and 278 at bats he only managed 12 extra base hits with 16 RBIs. 

He played every infield & outfield position that season, posting a .995 fielding % while only making just one error. He played 55 games at second, 42 games at short 5 in the outfield & one at first base for a Mts team that fell to fifth place.

His fifth and final season with the 2004 Mets where he hit .254 in 75 games. In early August he drove in five runs gathering up four hits in a series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

 Later in the month he singled off former Met David Weathers, breaking a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 7th inning. The run proved to be the game winner over the Houston Astros.

By August 19th he season was over as he went down with an injury. After a bad 2005 Spring Training the Mets released him & he signed with the Kansas City Royals. There he played 83 games in 2005 batting .239. At the end of Spring Training '06, his contract was purchased by the Houston Astros. He played in just seven games closing out his career.

In a nine year career, Super Joe was a lifetime .251 hitter, playing in 754 games, with 443 hits, 25 HRs 89 doubles 10 triples 33 stolen bases, a .302 on base % & 158 RBIs.

Defensively, Super Joe played 256 games in the outfield, 238 at second base, 99 at short, 92 at third base, & 61 at first base.

Retirement: After his playing days he coached & managed in the minor leagues for the Chicago White Sox organization.

In 2012 he became the White Sox, third base coach under former Mets team mate; Robin Ventura.

Super Joe was considered for the Mets managerial position after Terry Collins. In 2017 he moved on to the White Sox bench coaching position.

Family: Joe & his wife Courtnie live outside the Philadelphia area.

Oct 15, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: World Series Game #5: Amazing Mets Are World Champions

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Thursday, October 16th 1969: World Series Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. 

On this day, the biggest miracle in sports history became a reality. 

On this day the New York Mets, once loveable losers, became Champions of the World, the Miracle Mets. On this day the team became officially known the Amazing Mets, a title that would stay with the team forever.

The Mets began the year as 100-1 odds to be world series champions. They would forever define the underdog winner in sports. As Bud Harrelson recently said, any under dog team that ever comes back to win, is always compared to the '69 Mets

In just eight short seasons, a team that had finished last six times were now the Champions of the baseball world. What a way to end the sixties.

The pregame festivities featured New York legend, Joe DiMaggio throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. 

Before the game he was reunited with another New York baseball legend, his former tam mate now a Mets coach, Yogi Berra  Everyone in New York was tuned in some how some way on this historic day.

Manager Gil Hodges, sent Jerry Koosman (17-9 / 2.28 ERA / 180 K's) to the hill. Koos was the winner of Game #2 at Baltimore, he was soon to become the best Mets post season pitcher in team history.

He got the call for Game Five, facing off against Earl Weaver's Oriole pitcher; Dave McNally (20-7 / 3.22 ERA / 166 K's). McNally was the loser to Koosman in Game #2.

Starting Lineups

57,397 fans filled Shea Stadium to witness the Miracle of all baseball miracles. There was no stopping the Mets on this day even after they fell behind early on. 

In the 1st inning,Tommie Agee led off with a walk. After Bud Harrelson struck out, Agee stole second. Cleon Jones then flew out to right. Donn Clendenon also walked but McNally struck out Ron Swoboda to end the inning.

The 2nd inning was quiet but in the top of the third the Orioles had thier biggest inning of the Series. First Mark Belanger singled to right field. Then Koosman served up a two run HR, to of all people in the strong Oriole line up, the opposing pitcher; Dave McNally.

Koosman then got Don Buford to ground out & then he struck out Paul Blair. But with two outs, Frank Robinson hit a HR, just his third hit of the series in which he would bat a measly .188. 

It was just the third HR of the Series for the Orioles. McNally's earlier in the inning & Don Buford who led off Game #1. All of a sudden it was 3-0 Orioles.

Koosman came in to the Mets dug out angry at himself, he threw his glove down to the ground. He told his team "I'll hold them right there, you guys go out & score some runs."

Koosman did exactly that, holding the mighty Orioles down the rest of the way, allowing just one more hit & one walk. He retired 19 of the next 21 batters & no other Oriole batter would even got near second base.

In the top of the 6th inning, Frank Robinson complained he was hit by a pitch. Umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree. 

Robinson left the plate & went to the dugout, dropped his pants & put ethyl chloride on his leg. Robinson took his sweet time, delaying the game.

 Dimuro did not change his mind or look at the wound, he just told manger Earl Weaver to get him back at bat or he'd be out. 

It wasn't until the bottom of the 6th inning, when the Mets made another Amazing come back. It all started when Gil Hodges pulled the famous "shoe polish incident". 

Dave McNally threw a pitch to Cleon Jones, that either bounced first or hit Jones in the foot. The ball then rolled into the Mets dugout. Hodges picked up the ball & walked out to home plate umpire; Lou Dimuro

He showed DiMuro a ball with a shoe polish smudge on it, saying "Lou the ball hit him". Seeing the polish as proof that Jones indeed was hit by the pitch, Umpire Dimuro agreed & awarded Jones first base. 

Quotes- Gil Hodges: "There was a big polish mark across the ball, I'm just glad our club house gut keeps our shoes nice & polished."

Trivia: Years later, Jerry Koosman said that Hodges had come over to him in the dugout & told him to rub a ball on his shoe. That made the smudge & that was the ball that Hodges had brought to the umpire. 

Even Art Shamsky stated that Gil always kept a ball with polish on it in his jacket.

Baltimore manager Earl Weaver (who had already been thrown out of one Series game back in Game #3) came out to argue the call. He was bit more careful this time & pretty much knew he had no case. 

He also felt the same feeling going around New York City & the baseball world, that his team was about to be done.

Next up came the World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, in Amazing 1969 Mets fashion, he followed with his third HR of the Series. He put the Mets with in a run, it was now a 3-2 game, sending the Shea Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

In the Mets home 7th, the normally light hitting; Al Weiss,  who had never homered at Shea Stadium, and only had hit two HRs all season (in 247 at bats) blasted a HR over the left field wall tying the game. 

Al Weis the platooned second baseman, who mostly was back up to Ken Boswell, wasa native of Franklin Square, Long Island & had his biggest baseball thrill. 

Shea Stadium & the whole city of New York, as well as the whole world (it seemed) went nuts. 

The underdog little guys every where found a new hero in Mr. Al Weiss

He would hit an amazing .455
in the World Series. Mets & NBC broadcaster, Lindsay Nelson said it best when he called him "a mighty might".

Quotes- Al Weis: " I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know how far it go. I don't have enough experience in judging those things."  His father was ecstatic, it was a dream to see my boy in a World Series, but to see him be the batting hero is too much!"

Trivia: All Star short stop Bud Harrelson made some outstanding fielding plays in the Series & it was acknowledged by broadcasters Curt Gody & former short stop, Tony Kubek. Harrelson had made 17 assists in the five game series. 

On Al Weiss, Bud Harrelson said "I thought we had them when Weiss hit it out to tie it. You could almost see them collapse & go whoosh. Heck Clendenon is getting paid to hit, Al isn't. In my mind he's the MVP." 

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Cleon Jones doubled off O's reliever Eddie Watt to lead off the inning. 

Ron Swoboda, who would hit .400 in the series (6-15) then came through with his second hit of the day.

 It was his fifth hit in the last two games. Swoboda doubled down the left field line, scoring Jones with the go ahead run. 

Swoboda then would score when pitcher Eddie Watt made an error on Jerry Grote's ground ball. 

Jerry Koosman came out to close it out in the 9th inning, the Shea crowd was on its feet & Koos was determined. 

Frank Robinson led off the inning with a walk. But then Koosman got Boog Powell to ground out & forced  Robinson at second. 

Then Brooks Robinson flew out to Swoboda in right for the second out.

The final out was made by future 1986 Mets manager, Davey Johnson. He hit a fly ball to left field, Cleon Jones got down on one knee, made the catch and sealed the Championship. 

At first Koosman later said, he thought it may have been a HR saying to himself "ut oh". But he was relieved as he saw Cleon Jones kneel down with his glove up. 

At 3:17 PM, Cleon Jones closed his glove on the final out of the 1969 World Series, it is an image that is now iconic in Mets history. 

Jones jumped & hugged his buddy Tommie Agee & the two ran to the dugouts for safety, as fans poured onto the field.

Koosman's line score was: nine innings, three runs on five hits, five strikeouts with one walk. 

After the final out, Koosman leaped into the air into catcher; Jerry Grote's arms. The Glider; Ed Charles leaped in the air & did a jig style of a dance. This scene is forever etched into the minds of Mets fans, as the 1969 World Series win became real.

It was his second win of the World Series going an overall 2-0, allowing four runs on seven hits in 17.2 innings. He could have easily been the Series MVP as well, but the honors went to slugger; Don Clendenon who set a five game World Series record (at the time) hitting three HRs.

Quotes- Donn Clendenon: "I know the whole thing seems like a dream, but if it is I don't want to wake up" said Clendenon.

The fans poured onto the field & celebrated wildly. They tore apart the grass taking turf for souvenirs. After the players jumped for joy & hugged each other on the field, they ran for the safety of the Mets club house. In side it was a wild celebration, as champagne flew every where.

The media crowded in & all the lost game coverage began. Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner did interviews for television, as did NBC's Tony Kubek,

Gil Hodges received a phone call from the President of the United States. Hodges told the press "It's been a year of miracles & I'm just thanking God it's over. It was a colossal thing they did. These young men showed that you can realize the most impossible dream of all. I'm so proud of them all."

Quotes- Ron Swoboda: " This will give heart to every loser in America, we are the saints of lost causes".

Quotes: Tom Seaver "It was the greatest collective victory by any team in sports."