Skip to main content

Donn Clendenon RIP

Donn Clendenon's timing for big hits was one of his best traits as a New York Met.

Clendenon died a few days ago, after a long battle with leukemia, at age 70. He is best remembered for his play during the 1969 season as a valuable midseason acquisition who starred during the World Series upset of the Baltimore Orioles. In the fifth and deciding game, his home run, with the Mets trailing, 3-0, helped the Mets rally to a victory and a world championship.

The next season, Clendenon was terrific, driving in a club-record 97 runs. His skills eroded quickly however and the 1971 season turned out to be his last as a Met.

The slump that marked the end of Clendenon's run of success began in May and carried over the course of a month. In the midst of a 2-for-36 funk, he ended up benched, used as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement, which was his role on June 19, 1971 when the Mets hosted the Phillies on Helmet Day.

The thought that this would be a pitchers duel between Tom Seaver and Rick Wise was quickly erased. Deron Johnson's two-run homer gave the Phillies a second inning lead, which they padded with a run in the third. The Mets got one run back in the fifth, but the Phillies answered right back by tallying in the top of the sixth. Seaver left having allowed four runs and 12 hits, the latter a total he surpassed only once in his Hall of Fame career.

Fortunately for the Mets they were playing for a team whose ineptitude carried it through the early part of the 70s and the Flushing 9 tied the score when Ken Boswell's RBI single produced one run and two Phillies errors brought home two more. That turned the contest into a bullpen battle. Phillies relievers wiggled out of jams in the seventh (the Mets left the bases loaded), the ninth (Clendenon reached on a pinch double but was thrown out at third when Ed Kranepool tried to advance him along), and the 12th (Clendenon doubled again, but this time the Mets left the bases loaded, again).

Fate seemed to favor the Phillies, particularly when they scored an undeserved run in the 14th when Larry Bowa reached on Boswell's error and came home as part of a double steal. The Mets had stranded 14 through the first 13 innings, so it looked like this would be chalked up to opportunity missed, until second-year man Ken Singleton changed the karma by belting a game-tying home run with one out in the bottom of the frame. The Mets, with no one left on their bench, left two more men on base because pitcher Danny Frisella, forced to fend for himself, popped out to end the inning with the score, 5-5.

Reliever Bill Wilson, who yielded the home run to Singleton was back on the mound after Frisella deftly maneuvered through trouble, stranding two in the 15th. It looked like this game was heading one more frame, not surprising considering that Ed Sudol was umping, as Clendenon strode to the plate with two outs.

Clendenon was a big man, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, with a big swing, who stood out from his teammates because of his size and strength (he was easily recognizable whenever he came back to Shea Stadium for team reunions or appeared at baseball card shows). It was rare that someone like Clendenon would go more than a month between home runs, but this was one of those instances, as his last one was on May 17. This time, he sized up a pitch properly and hit it over the right field fence for a well-timed game-winning home run.

True Metdenons know...The 1971 Mets beat the Phillies four times via walk-off. That is the most walk-off wins by the Mets against an opponent in a season. The 2005 Mets enter Thursday with three walk-off wins against the Marlins after having won the last two games via walk-off.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls Profess

They Don't Make Em Like The Mook Any More

"There are certain things that stay with you, your whole life in sports. Mookie flying is one of those things." -- Blogger's father, 1:10pm on Feb 9. During the 1987 season, Mookie Wilson was on first base in seven instances in which the batter at the plate hit a double. How many times do you think Mookie scored? I'll give you a hint: Every time. According to some recent reading I've done, The average runner scores from first base on a double around 40-45 percent of the time. Mookie's career percentage: 65 percent (45 of 69) The average runner goes first to third on about 27 percent of singles hit. Mookie's percentage: 50 percent (120 of 240) The average runner scores from second base on about 58 percent of singles hit. Mookie's percentage: 75 percent (162 of 215) How good was Mookie Wilson? Let me put it to you this way. The guy turns 54 years old today (and got an early present by being re-hired by the Mets as a minor league instructor). I'd take

The best Mets ejections I know

When you think of the Mets and famous ejections, I'm guessing you first think of the famous Bobby Valentine mustache game, when after Valentine got tossed, he returned to the dugout in disguise. You know it. You love it. I remember being amused when I asked Bobby V about it while we were working on Baseball Tonight, how he simply said "It worked. We won the game." (true) But the Bobby V mustache game of June 9, 1999 is one of many, many memorable Mets ejection stories. And now thanks to Retrosheet and the magic of Newspapers.com , we have a convenient means for being able to share them. Ever since Retrosheet's David Smith recently announced that the Retrosheet ejection database was posted online , I've been a kid in a candy store. I've organized the data and done some lookups of media coverage around the games that interested me post. Those newspaper accounts fill in a lot of blanks. Without further ado (and with more work to do), here are some of my findings