Monday, June 15, 2009

40 years 1969-2009 Mets celebrate the 69' Champs Cleon Jones

With the Mets off today we take time to celebrate the 1969 World Champion Mets. Cleon Jones was a favorite of many a Met fan back in the late 60’s early 1970’s. He seems to be one of those players that can play the game with his pure talent. With the Mets he was there first true home grown hitter. He had a knack for hitting and was considered a bit lazy in the field but when it came to Mets fans he was one of there favorites.

Cleon was born in 1942 in Plateau Alabama. The Mets signed him as a free agent in July 1962. By 1963 Cleon was playing for low class A auburn. He played in his first game for the Mets in September 1963 against the Colt 45’s.

He then spent time in the minors until 1966 and then stayed with the team for good. He had a knack for driving the ball and was an accomplished hitter for a team that did not score many runs.

In the miracle year of 1969 he hit .340 and was selected into to his only All Star game where he went 2-4. Mets manager Gil Hodges not satisfied with his hustle in one game in July of that year walked out and took him out of a game.

He is ever in grained in Mets fan lore with catching the last out off of future Mets manager Davey Johnson to win the 1969 World Series against the powerful Orioles.

He still had some good years for the Mets hitting .319 in 1971 and .280 for a lousy Met team in 1974.

1975 was a tough year for Cleon. He was caught messing around in a van in Florida and the Mets made him make a public apology to his wife. The owners of the Mets, the Payson family kind of black balled the Mets star at that point. Then his manager of the time Yogi Berra asked him to play left field and he flat out refused. At that point the Mets had enough with Cleon and released him at the end of July of 1975. He played a couple of games with the White Sox in 1976 but then called it a career.

He was the Mets leader in best average with that .340 he had in 1969 until 1999 when John Olerud hit .354

The Mets did not welcome him back into the fold until the Mets sold the team. In 1981 he was a roving batting instructor for the Mets.

He now makes appearances at Met ceremonies including last years last game where when he stepped on home plate he recreated the catch of the last out of the 1969 World Series.

He I am sure will be part of the Mets ceremony of the 1969 team later this season.

Evening Independent

Ultimate Mets database

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