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Donn Clendenon

Donn Clendenon
First baseman
Born: (1935-07-15)July 15, 1935
Neosho, Missouri
Died: September 27, 2005(2005-09-27) (aged 70)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 22, 1961 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
August 5, 1972 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average .274
Home runs 159
Runs batted in 682
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Career highlights and awards

Donn Alvin Clendenon (July 15, 1935 – September 17, 2005) was a Major League Baseball first baseman. He is best remembered as the World Series MVP for the 1969 "Amazin' Mets."

Early life

Six months after Clendenon was born in Neosho, Missouri, his father, Claude, died from leukemia. Claude Clendenon was a mathematics and psychology professor and chairman of the mathematics department at Langston University, an all-black school in Langston, Oklahoma. Clendenon's mother, Helen, demanded high academic achievement from her son. When he was only six years old, Clendenon's mother married former Negro Leagues baseball player Nish Williams.[1] In addition to academic excellence, Clendenon's new stepfather decided he was going to make his stepson into a baseball player. Williams served as a coach on virtually every baseball team that Clendenon played on, including his college team at Atlanta's Morehouse College, and his semi-pro career with the Atlanta Black Crackers. Along with Williams, Clendenon also received pointers from some of the players Williams knew from the Negro Leagues, including Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.

Morehouse College

Clendenon graduated as a letterman in nine sports at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and received a host of scholarship offers. He was prepared to attend UCLA on a scholarship until some coaches from Morehouse College in Atlanta visited his mother, and convinced her that he should attend a school closer to home.

Morehouse College was among the premier academic institutions for young African-American men. Just before Clendenon arrived in

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Clendenon became a twelve sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball at Morehouse, and had received contract offers from both the Cleveland Browns and the Harlem Globetrotters. Clendenon, however, decided he wanted to teach, and began teaching fourth grade upon graduation. Williams convinced Clendenon to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates try-out camp in

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Major League Baseball career

Pittsburgh Pirates

After five seasons in the minor leagues, Clendenon made his major league debut with Pittsburgh in

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Following the 1962 season, the Pirates traded first baseman Dick Stuart to the Boston Red Sox in order to open a position for Clendenon. He responded by batting .275 with fifteen home runs and 57 RBIs. Clendenon drove in 96 and 98 in

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1968 expansion draft

With first base prospect Al Oliver waiting in the wings, the Pirates left Clendenon unprotected for the 1968 Major League Baseball expansion draft, and he was selected by the Montreal Expos. On January 22,

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The Expos and Astros worked out a new deal, and Clendenon joined the Expos on April 19, 1969. He was batting .240 with four home runs and fourteen RBIs when the Expos dealt him to the New York Mets on June 15, 1969, in exchange for Steve Renko, Kevin Collins and two minor leaguers.

Amazin' Mets

The Mets were in second place, nine games back of Leo Durocher's Chicago Cubs in the newly aligned National League East, when they acquired Clendenon. Splitting time with Ed Kranepool at first base, Clendenon's numbers with the Mets did not improve immediately over those he put up with the Expos. Slowly, however, Clendenon's batting average began to rise; on August 30, Clendenon hit a tenth-inning home run against the San Francisco Giants to give the Mets the 3–2 win.[3]

The Mets were 2 12 games back of Chicago when the Cubs came to Shea Stadium for a two-game set on September 8. The Mets swept the set to move within 12 game of first place, with Clendenon hitting a two-run home run in the Mets' 7-1 victory on the ninth.[4]

The Mets won their next six in a row (ten total) to move 3 12 games over the Cubs. On September 24, Clendenon single handedly beat the St. Louis Cardinals with a three run home run and a solo shot to clinch the NL East.[5] Overall, they won 39 of their last 50 games, and finished with 100 wins against 62 losses, eight games over the second-place Cubs.

1969 World Series

Clendenon did not appear in the Mets' 1969 National League Championship Series three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves to reach the World Series. In the World Series, however, Clendenon appeared in four of the five games, missing only game three. He went 2 for 4 in game one, scoring the Mets' only run in their 4–1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.[6] He hit a fourth-inning home run in game two[7] and a second-inning home run in game four[8] to give the Mets early 1-0 leads in both games.

The Orioles were ahead 3–0 in game five when Cleon Jones led off the sixth inning. Dave McNally struck Jones in the foot with a pitch; however, home plate umpire Lou DiMuro ruled that the ball had missed Jones. Mets manager Gil Hodges emerged from the dugout to argue, and showed DiMuro a shoe-polish smudge on the ball. DiMuro reversed his call, and awarded Jones first base. Clendenon, the following batter, hit a two-run home run to pull the Mets within one run. The Mets eventually won the game, 5–3, to complete their improbable World Series victory over the heavily favored Orioles.[9]

For the series, Clendenon batted .357 with three home runs and four RBIs, and was named World Series MVP. His three home runs remain tied for most home runs in a five-game Series, with Ryan Howard equaling it in the 2008 World Series.


On July 28,

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After having been demoted to the Tidewater Tides in 1970, Ed Kranepool enjoyed a career year with the Mets in

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Clendenon caught on with the St. Louis Cardinals for the

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Seasons Games AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO HBP Avg. Slg. OBP Fld%
12 1362 4648 594 1273 192 57 159 682 90 379 1140 21 .274 .442 .328 .988


After retiring, Clendenon earned a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University in

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He eventually entered a drug rehabilitation facility in Ogden, Utah, and during a physical examination in connection with his treatment, learned he had leukemia. That prompted his move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in

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He was survived by his wife, Anne; his sons, Donn, Jr. and Val, his daughter, Donna Clendenon, and six grandsons. Shortly before his death, he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of fame.[13]


  1. ^ "Nish Williams - BR Bullpen". Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  2. ^ "Donn Clendenon Biography - Combined Brains and Athletic Talent, Found Baseball Success, Developed Interests Outside Baseball, Joined Miracle Mets". Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  3. ^ "New York Mets 3, San Francisco Giants 2". 1969-08-31. 
  4. ^ "New York Mets 7, Chicago Cubs 1". 1969-09-09. 
  5. ^ "New York Mets 6, St. Louis Cardinals 0". 1969-09-24. 
  6. ^ "1969 World Series Game One". 1969-10-11. 
  7. ^ "1969 World Series Game Two". 1969-10-12. 
  8. ^ "1969 World Series Game Four". 1969-10-15. 
  9. ^ "1969 World Series Game Five". 1969-10-16. 
  10. ^ "New York Mets 12, San Francisco Giants 2". 1970-07-28. 
  11. ^ Goldstein, Richard (2005-09-19). "Donn Clendenon, 70, MVP for the 1969 'Miracle Mets,' Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  12. ^ Lammers, Dirk (2005-09-17). "Former slugger Donn Clendenon dead at 70". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  13. ^ "Georgia Sports Hall of Fame" (PDF). 2005-09-17. 

External links

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