Remembering Mets History (1971): Donn Clendenon's 15th Inning Walk Off HR

Saturday June 19, 1971: As long time Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy would have said "it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon for baseball”. 

As 52,171 fans turned out at Shea Stadium to watch Gil Hodges second place Mets (36-25) 2 ½ games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Mets hosted, Frank Lucchesi’s last place Philadelphia Phillies (25-38).

The Mets "Tom Terrific" would go against Philadelphia's Rick Wise. Wise came into the game at 7-4, he had shutout the Mets 1-0 a month earlier in Philadelphia, topping Gary Gentry. Wise would win 17 games in 1971 (17-1 with a 2.88 ERA) He would 15 or more games six times in his 18-year career.

Tom Seaver certainly wasn’t having his best day, allowing four runs on twelve hits, striking
out only two batters before being relieved by Ron Taylor in the 6th.

In the Phillies 2nd inning, Deron Johnson hit a two run HR to make it 2-0. Later in the 3rd, Tim McCarver doubled & Willie Montanez walked. Ron Stone added an RBI hit making 3-0. In the 6th, Larry Bowa added an RBI single as well.

Philadelphia's Rick Wise was shutting out the Mets, allowing just three hits until the 6th inning. Ed Kranepool led off with a double.  Ken Singleton got on with a soft single to right. 

Then Ken Boswell singled to bring in Kranepool. Jerry Grote reached on second baseman Denny Doyle's error allowing Singleton to score. Tim Foli then reached on an outfield error by Oscar Gamble, helping Boswell to score & tying up the game at four.

The game remained tied as it went to the bull pens and both sides did a great job. The Phils' Woodie Fryman & Joe Horner held the Mets scoreless for seven more innings. 

The Mets, Tug McGraw & Danny Frisella did the same by shutting down the Phils. McGraw
pitched five innings of relief, he allowed only two hits & walk, striking out two, 

He gave way to Danny Frisella in the 12th inning. Frisella would strike out six, but he did walk four and allowed four hits.

In the top of the 14th, Phillies short stop Larry Bowa reached on a Ken Boswell error at second base. He advanced on a fielders choice & then stole third. Bowa then surprised everyone & stole home, giving the Phillies the lead 5-4.

But the Mets wouldn’t let this one slip away, with one out in the bottom of the 14th, young Ken Singleton hit a dramatic HR to tie the game back up. It was his fourth HR of the season, he would hit 13 HRs in 298 at bats for the 1971 Mets before getting traded t Montreal after the season. He would hit 246 career HRs over 15 seasons.

Danny Frisella came out to pitch the 15th inning. With one out he allowed base hits to Larry Bowa & Tim McCarver. He then struck out Willie Montanez "the Hot Dog" to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the 15th. Bill Wilson was in his third inning of work for the Phils. 

Donn Clendenon, who had come into the game late as a pinch hitter, came to bat. Overall, on the day he was 3-4. He had led off the 9th inning & the 12th with doubles but had been left stranded both times.

With two outs here, Clendenon connected off Wilson, for a walk off game winning home run over the right field fence. It was his 6th HR of the year, sending the Shea crowd into frenzy. 

After a long four hours and forty minutes, the Mets took the 15 inning 6-5 win. Billy Wilson got the loss & Danny Frisella got his third win of the year.

Trivia: Frisella & McGraw made up one of the league's best bullpens in 1971. Tug McGraw was 11-4 with a 1.70 ERA & saves in 51 appearances. Frisella was 8-5 with a 1.99 ERA & 12 saves in 53 appearances.


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