Baseball History: Mets Clinch First Title

donn clendenon 1970The stars were aligned in the right order for the 1969 New York Mets.

After seven years of unsuccessful seasons by the Mets in the National League, they became world champions.

Three of their stars were set to help make history on Sept. 24. Ironically, none of the players were named Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman.

One was in the last season of his career. Another was a rookie. The final one was acquired by a trade after being drafted by an expansion team.

The trio was the primary reason that the fans celebrated by tearing up Shea Stadium after the Mets clinched the newly formed NL East to make the post-season for the first time.

In the first inning of the decisive contest against the St. Louis Cardinals and future National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton, Donn Clendenon hit a three-run homer and Ed Charles added a two-run shot to give the Mets a 5-0 advantage.

Clendenon added a solo homer in the fifth against Dave Giusti for the final tally of the 6-0 affair against the Cardinals, who had won the last two NL pennants.

On the mound, rookie Gary Gentry tossed a four-hit shutout and fanned five Cardinals. Gentry was perfect through three frames and he surrendered a single to Lou Brock to lead off the fourth inning.

ed charles 1963The Trio

Charles was 36 years old and in his ninth and final season. In 1962, he made the Topps All-Star Rookie Team after posting what would be a career highs with 17 homers and 20 stolen bases for the Kansas City A’s. He was picked up by the Mets in a 1967 trade.

In 1969, Charles would play in 61 games and hit three homers with a .207 batting average. The home run off Carlton would be the last of his career.

Drafted four times, Gentry was a member of the 1967 College World Series champion Arizona State Sun Devils before he finally signed with the Mets. After two years in the minors, Gentry joined the starting rotation for the Mets in 1969 that featured the previously mentioned Seaver and Koosman. Seaver went 25-7, while Koosman was 17-9.

Gentry had a career-high in wins as he was 13-12. He won game three of the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. He would pitch three more seasons with the Mets before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves before the 1973 season. He was out the major leagues by 1975 with a 46-49 record.

Clendenon was 33 years old and apparently at the end of his career. He had been with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1961 to 1968. His best season was in 1966 when he blasted 28 homers and knocked in 98 runs.

Unprotected in the expansion draft after the 1968 season, Clendenon was selected by the Montreal Expos. He was later traded to the Houston Astros, but refused to report to the team. He began the 1969 season with the Expos and was traded to the Mets in May.

With the Mets, Clendenon had 12 homers and 37 RBI in 72 contests in 1969. He would eventually be named the Most Valuable Player in the 1969 World Series after hitting three homers and batting .357.

Clendenon was with the Mets in 1970 (22 HR and 97 RBI) and 1971 before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in his final season in 1972.

1969 mets rookies gary gentry and amos otisThe Other Rookie

Gentry’s 1969 rookie card featured Amos Otis on the other side. Otis had joined the Mets in 1967 and was in the minors the next season. He was in 48 games with the Mets in 1969, but didn’t play in the post-season.

Otis was traded to the Kansas City Royals before the 1970 season and he became an important part of their success over the next 15 years. He was a five-time all-star and won three gold gloves as a centerfielder.

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