The unsung hero who made the Mets Amazin'

Clendenon, acquired in June, hit three homers in '69 World Series

September 18th, 2018

On June 15, 1969, the Mets were nine games back of the Cubs in the newly established National League East. The Mets traded for a player that day who would help propel them to their first championship.

Donn Clendenon was hitting .240 in 33 games during his first season with the Expos when they sent the 33-year-old first baseman to New York at what was then the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"When Donn came here in June," said Art Shamsky, who was on that Mets title team, "he was really valuable to the team and our effort to win the World Series."

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Clendenon brought a veteran presence and a right-handed power bat to the Mets' lineup, helping the Amazin' Mets win the NL East by eight games. But the team's success didn't lead to consistency, with manager Gil Hodges tinkering with the lineup.

"We were all in a situation that it was very difficult for all of us as individuals," Shamsky said. "While we were all frustrated, the bottom line was it was working. Gil Hodges had that ability to get the most out of all of his players."

Despite not playing during New York's three-game sweep over the Braves in the NLCS, Clendenon was instrumental in the Mets' unlikely World Series win over the heavily favored Orioles.

Clendenon went 5-for-14 with three homers and four RBIs on baseball's biggest stage, playing in four of the fives games in the series. He hit tiebreaking homers in Games 2 and 4 and hit his third in the title-clinching 5-3 win over the Orioles in Game 5 to take home the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

Clendenon's success epitomized the Mets' depth, Shamsky said. Despite having big names like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, players like Clendenon, Al Weis, Kenny Boswell, Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool played big roles in the title run.

"It just was about everybody contributing and Donn, from the minute he joined the team, was a major contributor," Shamsky said.