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

Cliff Notes

Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t

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

The greatness and the frustration of Nolan Ryan the Met

I was looking over dominant pitching versus opponents and over various stretches in Mets history and came upon one I found interesting. In his first six starts in 1971, Nolan Ryan went 5-1 with an 0.77 ERA. In 46 2/3 innings, he allowed 19 hits and struck out 47. Opponents hit .121 and slugged .172 against him. And oh yes, he walked 37 batters (!), or more than 7 per 9 innings. As you go back through those six starts, you can see both the brilliance and the frustration that eventually led to Ryan’s departure in one of the worst trades in baseball history. April 29 at Cardinals – 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 5 K, 8 BB Ryan’s first start of the season was 7-0 win over the Cardinals that completed a four-game sweep, though it wasn’t the most artful of efforts. Ryan walked eight, but held the Cardinals to only two hits. That included the thwarting of Joe Torre’s season-opening 22-game hitting streak. Torre would go on to win the MVP. The big moment in the game came with the score 1-0 in the