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Trades From The Distant Past - Donn Clendenon

Barry DuchanSunday, June 3, 2007
By Barry Duchan

Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

Donn ClendenonOne of the few Mets' trades that actually worked out for both teams was the one that brought Donn Clendenon from Montreal on June 15, 1969. Clendenon had actually been traded to Houston after being drafted from Pittsburgh by the Expos, but refused to report. So, he was still with the first-year expansion team when the Mets saw him as a nice platoon first baseman who'd split time with Ed Kranepool and provide both a productive bat and a veteran clubhouse presence.

On the June 15th trade deadline, the Mets swapped 3rd baseman Kevin Collins, who was a pretty good young hitter, and a trio of minor league pitchers to Montreal for Clendenon, who proved to be a key piece of the puzzle that turned into the Miracle Mets. Donn was also MVP of the 1969 World Series, so unquestionably the trade was a great one for the Mets. But although Collins never panned out, one of the three young pitchers included in the deal was Steve Renko, who became one of Montreal's most dependable starters for several years, so Montreal had to be happy with their end of the deal.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (4)

Its true that the Clendennon deal was a great one and essential to the 1969 Championship but probably the best deal for the Mets in 1969 was the one they didn't make. I'm talking about sending Ed Kranepool, Nolan Ryan and probably a few more young players to the Braves for Joe Torre.

Torre was the Braves' catcher in 1968 and after the Mets passed on him, he was traded to the Cardinal where he was moved to first base. At 28, this proved to be a pivotal career change as his offensive numbers started taking off, leading up to his MVP season in 1971.

One would think the Mets would also have moved him to first to replace the departed Kranepool and because they already had Grote behind the plate.

But would this trade have derailed the 69 Championship? I think it might have. Kranepool, Ryan and Clendennon were definitely part of the magic. Anyway, we have Mrs. Payson to thank because she wouldn't part with Kranepool.

I remember talk of a Joe Torre trade before '69, but as I recall, it was Amos Otis who the Mets refused to deal at the time. As far as Kranepool, according to Whitey Herzog's book, he was left unprotected for the expansion draft, and would have stayed that way throughout the draft, except after Don Shaw (M. Donald Grant's personal pet) was taken by the Expos, Kranepool was pulled back, so Mrs. Payson and Grant wouldn't go bananas, or something like that.

I seem to remember the Torre talks included Grote (as well as Otis and possibly Ryan), so there was no plan to move Joe from catcher at that time. Of course, everything we both "remember" was just what we read in the paper, or in books, so who knows how close the Mets really came to getting Torre, and who they would have given up.

It's amazing how large Clendennon looms in our memories of the Mets of that era, considering how short his Mets career was. 1969 wasn't even a great year for him (though 1970 was and he was of course, along with Jerry Koosman, the most valuable player on the team in the 1969 World Series). There was just something about Donn Clendennon that seemed to sum up the 1969 Mets. He was such an articulate and interesting man, such a unique ballplayer. And he may have had the single most beautiful swing I have ever seen.

under your new scenario (trading Grote, Otis & Ryan, leaving Torre behind the plate) that might have been the worst Mets trade ever!

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