Cleon’s Clouts Put Mets at Brink

Filed under Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, World Series
October 16, 1969
Cleon Jones
Cleon Jones (21) is congratulated by Jerry Koosman and Donn Clendendon after his second home run of the game that gave the Mets the lead.

The amazing New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3, to take Game Five of the 1969 World Series and to move within only one win from a world’s championship. The expansion team that lost 120 games seven years ago is poised to stand atop the baseball world. The Mets won, in part, to the bat of left fielder Cleon Jones who homered twice, once in the first inning to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, and again in the third to give the Mets a lead these brash young kids would not relinquish.

The Mets jumped on Orioles starter Dave McNally as Bud Harrelson lined a triple in the right field gap. Jones followed with an opposite field home run that just cleared the right field foul pole for a 2-0 lead. Baltimore tied the game in the third on a pair of RBI singles by Frank Robinson and Boog Powell, but Jones homered in the bottom of the frame to give New York a 3-2 lead. Bedlam in Shea Stadium ensued. In the bottom of the fourth, the wheels fell off the Oriole bandwagon before manager Earl Weaver knew what was going on. Ed Charles opened with a single to left, and Jerry Grote followed with a walk. Al Weis sacrificed the runners into scoring position. Jerry Koosman’s grounder to second was slow enough to allow Charles to score from third for a 4-2 lead. McNally intentionally walked Tommie Agee to set up a force at second base. Harrelson lined deep in the left center field gap. By the time the ball was retrieved to the infield, Grote had scored; Agee had scored from first, and Harrelson slid into third with his second triple of the day. Weaver and McNally went to the same playbook by issuing a free pass to Jones, but Donn Clendenon cashed in with a ringing double to left that sent McNally to the showers giving the Mets a 7-2 lead. It was a dizzying affair for McNally who had blanked these Mets on Sunday limiting this same lineup to a mere two hits.

Koosman only grew stronger as the standing room only crowd of 57,397 grew louder and louder with each inning. In the eighth, a walk and a single allowed Curt Motton to score on a sacrifice fly by Frank Robinson. In the ninth when Davey Johnson singled with one out, Mets’ manager Gil Hodges took no chances and relieved Koosman to a standing ovation. Ron Taylor closed out the game in short order by inducing Elrod Hendricks to fly to right and striking out Mark Belanger. The clubs will meet on Saturday in Baltimore in an expected Game 3 rematch of 23-year-old starters, Baltimore’s Jim Palmer and New York’s Gary Gentry. Palmer won the third game of this Series, 5-1, and will now pitch in front of the Oriole faithful for the first time this post-season.

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