Steve Renko: Mets Pitching Prospect Traded For Don Clendenon

Steven Renko was born December 10th, 1944 in Kansas City Kansas. He was a gifted athlete who also played football on the same high school team as Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers. Renko was even drafted by the NFL's Oakland Raiders but chose baseball instead.

The six foot five right hander was drafted by the New York Mets in 1965 way down in the 24th round. He reported to the Mets AA Williamsport team in 1966 pitching just one game. In 1967 he pitched at Winter Haven goiing 8-1 with a 1.61 ERA. By 1968 he was at AA Memphis & after going 7-11 with a 3.29 ERA he was promoted to AAA Jacksonville.

These were the pitching rich days of the Mets minor leagues, Renko seemed to be another star in the waiting. On this Jacksonville Suns team, he pitched along with Tug McGraw, Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew & Danny Frisella, all of whom would be successful on the Mets big league club in the near future. 

Renko went 4-1 with a 3,00 ERA striking out 41 batters in 51 innings in seven starts.

In 1969 he was promoted to AAA Tidewater where in 12 games he was 3-6 posting a high ERA over five. He struck out 57 batters in 66 innings & was still very highly touted.

 On the June 15th 1969 trade deadline he was sent to the Montreal Expos along with Kevin Collins & two minor leaguers in exchange for Donn Clendenon.

Clendenon was key to the Amazing Mets World Championship that year, coming to the team as a true slugger & RBI man. He was the final piece the Mets needed. He would go on to earn the 1969 World Series MVP Award against the Baltimore Orioles.

Renko was immediately put into the Expos rotation making his debut on June 27th against the Philadelphia Phillies at Jary Park in Montreal. 

Renko was impressive going 6-7 on the expansion Expo team & was second on the club in wins behind Bill Stoneman (11). He would pitch in Montreal for eight seasons, winning 15 games twice going 68-82 overall in that time.

In 1973 he had his best season leading the Montreal staff in wins (15) going 15-11 with a 2.81 ERA (7th in the NL) striking out 164 batters (10th in the NL) in 249 innings pitched (6th in the NL). During the 1973 season Renko batted as high as seventh in the Expos line up in a game against the San Diego Padres.

He became the last pitcher to do this until 2005 when Dontrelle Willis batted seventh for the Florida Marlins. That 1973 season Renko batted .273 with nine RBIs.

In his career he hit 6 HRs with 42 RBIs while batting .215. In 1971 he had led the NL in earned runs (115) & allowed over 100 three times in his career. By 1976 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs (1976-1977) then became a journeyman pitcher. He went to the Chicago White Sox (1977) Oakland A's (1978) Boston Red & Sox (1979-1980).

Back in 1979 while pitching with the Boston Red Sox he carried a no hitter into the 9th inning. With one out Oakland A's rookie, Rickey Henderson doubled to break it up. 

Trivia: As with so many of those Mets pitching prospects of the sixties, Renko too pitched his share of one hitters: five of them in his career. 

He pitched for the California Angels (1981-1982) helping them to an AL Western title going 11-6, but he did not pitch in the ALCS loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He finished his career with his hometown Kansas City Royals in 1983.

In a 15 year career Renko was 134-146 with 1455 strike outs 1010 walks nine shut outs 57 complete games a 3.99 in 451 games over 2494 innings pitched.

In 1974 he led the league in wild pitches with 19. & in his career he has 73 (228th all time). He served up alot of long balls in his career: 248 which is 133rd most all time. He also allowed 1107 earned runs (180th all time).

Honors: Renko was on hand for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Montreal Expos in 2019. 


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