No. 2: Mets trade for Donn Clendenon, 1969
Maybe I’m a little too harsh when I say the younger generation doesn’t appreciate Donn Clendenon as much as they should. I’m guilty of it, too. His short stay with the Mets makes him an overlooked member of franchise lore.
However, one only needs to look at what he accomplished in 1969 to see why he earns the No. 2 spot on this all-time list.
On June 15, 1969, the Mets traded five players to the then-Montreal Expos. They included Jay Carden, David Colon, Kevin Collins and Steve Renko, plus a player to be named later. Nearly a full year later, they completed the deal when Terry Dailey was sent north of the border.
By far a good move for the Mets, it’s one that almost didn’t happen.
In January 1969, the Expos tried trading Clendenon to the Houston Astros. In the Astros’ front office was a man named Harry Walker, whom Clendenon considered a racist. The Expos ended up revising the trade and the Mets lucked out when he was moved months later to New York.
During the 1969 regular season, Clendenon stepped up to the plate 226 times for the Mets. He hit .252/.321/.455 over this time while adding 12 home runs and 37 RBI. They were good numbers, but nothing compared to what he did in the postseason.
Absent from the NLCS because the Mets easily rolled over the Atlanta Braves in a three-game sweep, the part-time performer went nuts against the Baltimore Orioles in his four World Series games. Clendenon ripped three home runs in 16 plate appearances and finished the series hitting .357/.438/.1.071. The performance earned him the World Series MVP.
As if that wasn’t delightful enough, Clendenon rocked a .288/.348/.515 batting line in 1970, while adding 22 home runs and 97 RBI. He received mild NL MVP consideration with a 12th place finish in the vote. After 1970, his career was unfortunately just about done.
Even though the Mets only got a year and a half of high-producing play from Clendenon, this is one of the biggest trade deadline deals in team history. It led to a championship, which is the goal of all deadline trades.