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Cleon Jones
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Cleon Jones
Cleon Jones
Inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame, 1991
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 19 of 981 players
Jones
Cleon Joseph Jones
Born: August 4, 1942 at Plateau, Ala.
Throws: Left Bats: Right
Height: 6.00 Weight: 190

Cleon Jones has been the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup 38 times, most recently on July 22, 2014.

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First Mets game: September 14, 1963
Last Mets game: July 18, 1975





Share your memories of Cleon Jones

HERE IS WHAT OTHER METS FANS HAVE TO SAY:

Kenny M
Cleon was by far my favorite player and all-time Met. He still is. I knew everything about him. I was only 11 years old when his Met career suddenly ended mid-season in 1975 due to the St Pete van incident and his problems with Yogi and M. Donald Grant. I still have the newspaper clipping of that. I was in Europe for two weeks when he was released, so I never got to see his last game as a Met.

I feel he could have played easily another five years. And he never worked in baseball again. I think he was kind of blacklisted. It's a shame how his fine career ended. Don't understand also how he only lasted one month with the White Sox, and could have DH'ed, especially that they had a bad team in 1976. He hit .200 for them but was never given a shot to improve his slow start. And I never got to see him play for the Sox in those goofy pajama uniforms (he wore #14).

I still collect his memorabilia. I have never learned how he received his well-known scar on his cheekbone. Cleon was a classic Met who is also a very nice guy. His #21 was perfect for him. He remains one of the greatest Mets ever and a well-deserved Met HOFer. It would be nice if he was still involved and visible in the game today. Thanks for the great memories, Cleon!

Paul
What happened with Cleon? I can't remember. From the stats, looks as though he had a pretty solid 1974, then barely played in '75. Injured? Just didn't have it anymore? I wasn't too into baseball that year, then "I just looked around and he's gone." I could write a lot more about Cleon and can't believe the 3rd most looked up Met had no comments about him. He is to date my favorite Met ever and at this rate that won't change.

mary dattner
I have had the pleasure of meeting Cleon Jones on several occasions. As a child I looked up to him; he was the best left fielder the Mets ever had. Now of course I love all the Mets, but Cleon was my hero. He is a very nice person, and I think he could have played longer than he did.

Ernie.
Cleon Jones got the scar on his right cheek in a head on car accident in 1961. Cleon went through the windshield; he was very lucky to have survived it.

Bob
What I remember most about Cleon Jones is that he just had this personna when he was coming up to bat that every time he was up, I'd figure a hit was a sure thing. He could be 0 for 20 and I'd still be confident he'd get a hit.

Also I remember in 1969 he seemed to always be on Kiner's Korner. I remember at the end of the year Ralph told Cleon that he should take over the show. Cleon, and I guess you'd have to have seen it as the way he deliverd the line said, "Naw, Ralph it's your show man, it's your thing you know. Maybe in a couple years when I'm done playin' I might like this." I mean it was funny!

Ed Horatio
Cleon used to tell Ralph Kiner that he was hitting the ball with more authority. He was probably, up until the rise of Edgardo Alfonzo, the best pure hitter to ever come out of the Mets farm system. Too bad the M Donald Grant stuffed shirt attitude had to embarass Cleon with that apology to the press. He was a great Met, regardless.

Leo
February 2, 2001
In 1969 Cleon hit .340 which was a Met record until John Olerud hit .351 (I believe) a couple of years ago. The Met record that Cleon broke, was held by Richie Ashburn in 1962 (the Mets 1st year) who hit .301 that year.

In 1969, Cleon was so clutch that it seemed everytime at bat, hit would hit a double. 1969, was a great year for Cleon, and to be a Met fan.

EG
March 7, 2001
Solid and still underrated. The best LF in Mets history.

Hassan Rahid
April 13, 2001
I love this man. He was a great met and a good man. May Allah bless him.

Mike
November 21, 2001
A travesty the way they treated Cleon Jones. Making him publicly apologize for that incident with the woman in the van. Jeepers. You think it might have had something to do with the fact that she was white. Nah. It was 1975, and we were such an enlightened society. I remember Sport Magazine did an article about how Cleon and his hometown buddy and teammate Tommie Agee were mistreated by the Mets. I can't recall what horrible transgression Agee committed. At any rate, the whole thing was sad. Jones was often accused of being lazy and indifferent. There was the incident in 1969 when Hodges walked out to left field and pulled him from the game for jaking it. Was he loafing that hot afternoon? I don't know. I wasn't there. Didn't see the replays on WOR either. Jones had a sweet swing and could run like the wind. I miss ya Jonesy.

Larry B
June 20, 2002
Cleon ranks as one of my Mets heroes for his contribution to the 1969 team. I went to my first Mets game in 1968 and have been hooked ever since. Cleon was the most popular Met on my block in Brooklyn. It's unfortunate that he completely dropped out of sight after his playing days.

Scott
June 30, 2002
Wasn't he the guy who pissed on M Donald Grant's desk in 1975 over a contract dispute? He was my favorite Met in the 70's - always a clutch hitter. Pressure never bothered him.

psr
October 16, 2002
Cleon Jones was my first favorite Met. I remember as a 10 year old telling my parents that my first born was going to be named Cleon. My parents weren't amused. It was unconscionable what M. Donald Grant put him through in 1975, but Met fans knew who the real trash was in that scenario. Just ask Tom Seaver, when he was traded two years later. Cleon, we miss ya, and if you're still in shape, consider suiting up for us in 2003. Lord knows we could still use you!

Metsmind
December 24, 2002
People forget what an incredibly accurate arm he had in addition to his hitting talent.

I saw Cleon play in April 1976 at the newly renovated Yankee Stadium. His White Sox team was wearing those navy blue old fashioned uniforms. (Has any team had more uniform changes than the White Sox?). Luckily, that day they didn't have to wear shorts too.

It looked all wrong. Cleon didn't stay there long.

To this day, only Strawberry and Alfonzo have been as good a homegrown offensive talent for the Mets.

Bob R.
January 6, 2003
The Mets didn't have much hitting in the late '60s and early '70, so they relied mostly on pitching and defense. But Cleon was the very best hitter they had then. Everybody remembers the great year he had in '69, when he finished third in the batting race (behind Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente!). But he was also a Top 10 hitter in '68 when he hit .297, and he got to .300 a second time in '71. Cleon was also a pretty good outfielder. It was his misfortune to play for M. Donald Grant, a 19th century man who wound up ruining a good team.

johnmn55
January 28, 2003
Boy, that was an interesting point about Strawberry and Alfonzo being the only better homegrown offensive talents in 42 years. I can't dispute it. Cleon did, in fact, have attitude problems, and I for one greatly appreciated M. Donald Grant making him apologize to his wife.

Russell Heim
February 27, 2003
Cleon Jones was my favorite player when I was growing up. My first game at Shea Stadium, I was more impressed with Cleon's hitting (a homer and a triple) than I was with Tom Seaver's pitching (one hitter). But what did I know about baseball at age 7? That was the famous "imperfect" game against the Cubs in 1969. My memory about the game is hazy, I could be wrong about the triple, but I'm pretty sure about the homer. I remember Seaver getting a standing ovation when he bunted in the bottom of the eighth. Getting back to Jones, he was a smooth outfielder and a good hitter. He was the best all around player the Mets had in the late '60s right up until they got Rusty Staub. I was upset when the Mets released him in 1975. I guess I got over it because I still root for them. Cleon was at the 40th anniversary celebration last August. He looked pretty good.

Mark
March 8, 2003
The Mets had their Old-timers game in 1979 and Cleon was in left field. Someone hit one out there, Cleon cut it off on one hop and made a strong throw back to the infield. As I watched his throw sail toward the cutoff man I remember thinking that Cleon still had a better arm than the Mets' leftfielder at the time: Steve Henderson.

Sarge
April 30, 2003
Easily THE Met to call your everyday favorite as a young fan cheering in the late '60s thru mid '70s. (That is once you got over your initial infatuation with Tom Terrific who you could only see play every 4-5 days.) What a great name. I had older relatives of English descent who got such a kick out of their little nephew proclaiming that his hero was someone named "Cleon." I never thought twice about it. The whole scandal of being found naked in the van in Puerto Rico with a white woman NOT his wife confused the hell out of me. Back then during the swinging 70s it seemed everything was about SEX. I liked that my favorite ballplayer had a bit of the James Bond, Capt. Kirk ladies man about him. But when that proved his undoing, it suddenly didn't seem so cool. Anyway, thanks for some great early baseball memories, Cleon. To me, you'll forever be nestled under an overcast Autumn sky, getting down on one knee to catch a game-ending flyout as a 747 bound for LaGuardia noisily streaks overhead.

Bobster1985
May 1, 2003
Sarge, you're so right. Cleon was a super hitter. He almost won the batting title in '69. No way the team would have won the pennant that year and in '73 without Cleon. Maybe he wasn't a saint but how many women did Babe Ruth run around with? I hope today's young fans recognize this guy as one of the best all-time Mets.

mets
May 30, 2003
July 30, 1969 the only time I ever saw this occur in a major league game. The Mets were playing the Astros in a weekday doubleheader at Shea. They got clobbered in the first game with Koosman pitching. In fact Denis Menke and Jimmy Wynn hit grand slam home runs in the same inning in the first game.

In the second game, the Astros got to Gentry and they were losing by plenty early in the game. A ball was hit to left field and Cleon Jones "strolled" after it. In a New York moment, Gil Hodges "strolled" from the dugout past the pitcher's mound into left field and confronted Cleon Jones and removed him from the game for his failure to hustle.

Jones was hitting .340 and having a great year yet Hodges was not about to allow complacency. Jones never did it again under Hodges.

Then, in 1973, another pennant-winning season, Jones was out with some sort of ailment. The Mets were starting to make a move in a very weak division. They were on the road and Yogi Berra allegedly went to Jones and asked him to play above his ailments and get back in the lineup. Jones responded. In fact, he made a throw against the Pirates from left field one night that prevented the winning run from scoring in a key game at Shea in September.

JimL
June 19, 2003
You want a Cleon Jones memory - OK. It is 1969 and the Mets are playing the Cubs at Shea, Jenkins versus Koosman. In the ninth inning with the Mets down 3-1 Cleon comes up with runners at 2nd and 3rd, 1 out and he hits a frozen rope right past the ear of Cubs 3rd basemen Ron Santo for a game-tying double. I never yelled so loud in my life. Mets win later that inning 4-3.

My friends and I use to walk to the Main Street train station when Met games like this one were sold out so we wouldn't be crushed to death. All the way walking there we argued with ourselves and strangers - "Why did the Cubs pitch to him with 1st base open and Jones batting about .350?"

Guess we will never know.

Bob P
June 24, 2003
JimL, that game was played on my 15th birthday, and I remember it like it was yesterday. In answer to your question, there is an old baseball adage that says "never put the winning run on base." Cleon came up in the situation representing the winning run (Mets down by 2 with runners at second and third). Leo Durocher was an "old school" manager in that regard and I'm sure that's why he pitched to Cleon. After Cleon doubled Durocher called for an intentional walk to Shamsky. The Mets also had 4 lefties coming up after Cleon against RHP Ferguson Jenkins, and the 1969 Cubs basically had no LHP in the bullpen.

By the way, I couldn't hear you yelling after Cleon's double because I was yelling too loud!

Frank the Met
January 5, 2004
It is a sad commentary on the stupidity of fans when Cleon Jones is left off the all-time Mets team. While there is always a certain amount of subjectivity with these types of votes, for crying out loud, this isn't even a close call.

Strawberry easily deserved the the top spot of the three outfield position. But Cleon Jones just as easily deserved the second spot. The third spot is debatable, though I would give it to Rusty Staub.

But who did the fans elect? Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Look, I love those two guys, but anyone who thinks Mookie Wilson is the same caliber player as Cleon Jones is on another planet. And Lenny? Please. Despite his legend, he was basically a platoon player for four seasons with the Mets. The vote was simply a case of the bigger and more recent names winning out.

Cleon was a great hitter with extra-base power. A classic 3-4-5 hitter, he was simply the best Met ever to play left field. He was clutch, a fantastic fielder, and without whom there would have been no 1969 or 1973.

Bob R
January 9, 2004
I TOTALLY agree with Frank The Met on Cleon. He was in the National League's Top 10 for batting average in 1968, and only Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente did better in 1969. Cleon probably would have won the batting title that year if some late-season injuries hadn't brought his average down to "only" .340. He also batted over .300 one season during the 70's for the Mets. He was the heart of the lineup for nearly 10 years, and took the Mets into two World Series. You have to put Cleon in the outfield on any All-Met team.

Kenny Joe
January 29, 2004
I am only 7 years old but know of Cleon because he is my dad's favorite player ever. He is mine too. I have a lot of old things in my room about him that my dad gave to me like cards, pictures, balls, and other stuff. My middle name is Joseph too. Someday I want to meet him. It would make me very happy because my dad says he is a very nice person. I will always collect Cleon stuff like my dad.

Melanie
April 1, 2004
Cleon was my favorite as well-- it seemed that the Mets could count on him and it was exciting when he came to bat. It seemed rare that he did not get on base. I thought he was under-rated-- never given credit at the time for being such a good player so I thought I liked the underdog-- the one who just did a great job without the star stuff. Glad to see he was a favorite of so many others.

I only made it to one Mets game and Cleon hit a homer that day for me-- I was sure it was for me anyway.

Metgirl4life
April 30, 2004
Cleon got me hooked on baseball. I was a little tomboy - 9 years old in 1969 - and flipped around the TV channel, finally deciding to watch a baseball game to see what this was all about. Cleon hits one out. Mets win. I got crazy. I'm hooked. A baseball fan for life. And I'm still a big Mets fan.

In fifth grade, I would hand in all of my school papers with "Cleon Jones" up at the top. Never heard a peep from the teacher - he always knew who to give the paper back to! My best friend had "Tom Seaver" at the top of hers.

My devotion to Cleon provides some of my strongest childhood memories - like my mom regularly sending me newspaper clippings while I was at camp in the summer, so I could see how Cleon and the Mets were doing in my absence.

I now have a son who's baseball crazy, and we've talked about the '69 Mets a lot. When he initially asked me who my favorite "old" Met was and I said "Cleon Jones" he looked at me like I was a Martian. "WHO???" he said. I just sighed. Cleon does not get anywhere near the respect now that he deserves for the kind of career he had.

Kiwiwriter
June 18, 2004
Great ballplayer who really got shafted by Mets management at a time when they were shafting their best players on a regular basis.

It just showed the racism of the Grant's Tomb Met administration. Cleon and a white girl...nobody cares about that stuff any more. Look at Derek Jeter and Halle Berry, for goodness' sake.

Cleon really deserved better.

Kenny M
September 15, 2004
In my constant quest to learn more about Cleon my boyhood idol, I recently found out that:

His last major league home run was 9/11/74 off Bob Forsch of the Cardinals in the 5th inning of the infamous 25-inning game at Shea.

His last hit at Shea was ironically against Tug McGraw of the Phillies, pinch hitting for Del Unser on 7/4/75. Single to center.

His last at bat as a Met was in Atlanta on 7/18/75 pinch hitting for Kranepool against Tom House and lined out to shortstop.

Cleon's last at-bat in majors occured 5/1/76, and was a fly ball at Comiskey to rightfield to Ben Oglivie off of Vern Ruhle of the Tigers (ironically Rusty Staub was on Detroit in that game). His teammates on Chicago included Ralph Garr and Bucky Dent.

Don Bleeds Blue &Orange
July 4, 2005
I remember as a 9-10 year old having arguments with my Yankee fan friends over who was the better player: Cleon or Roy White. Cleon of course. In 1969 Cleon was the man, the best player beside Tom Seaver. I went to a 1969 Mets 20th anniversary show in North Brunswick N.J. not far from my home. There was over 20 1969 Mets at the show. I purchased a super ticket that got me all the players and coaches autographs. I had each player and coach sigh a 10 by 13 team photo but the highlight was getting a personalized autograph and picture with myself and Cleon Jones. He is to this day my favorite Met. At the show I even told Cleon that when I was 10 years old I wanted to change my name to Cleon but my parents didn't like the idea.

BleedsMetsBlue&Orange
October 13, 2005
Without a doubt, THE most loved Met during his era. Cleon was my hero. No question. I was fortunate to be at two games in 1969 (I went to about 6 or 7 games that year) that involved Cleon in a big way. First, was the doubleheader against the Expos (second game, I think) in which Cleon attempted to steal second and was called out. I can still see him pleading with the ump while still on his knees. The ump soon ejected him, and Cleon practically went ballistic. Hodges came out to argue, but to no avail. For about the next 20 minutes or so, the Shea crowd waved white handkerchiefs and in unison, chanted "WE WANT CLEON!" I have NEVER been in a stadium that loud, before or since. I remember talking about it with a friend a few years back, and he said that the umpire had to be air-lifted by helicopter after the game for his own safety. I don't recall that, or know if it's true. Possibly just a Mets urban legend.

The other great memory of that year was October 16, 1969, which as any real Met fan knows, was the final game of the World Series, and the famous "shoe polish" incident. I was sitting with my father in the left field grandstands. (I was 9 years old, and I remember it as the greatest day I ever had with my father.) We had a perfect view of the last out when Cleon caught the ball, bent his knee, and looked in his glove just as the mayhem erupted throughout Shea.

One sad incident in my life also involved Cleon. About 8 years old (I know it was before the '69 season) I was talking baseball with some friends, and stated that Cleon Jones was my favorite Met. Another kid looked surprised and commented, "But he's black!" (And all of us were white.) It was my first exposure to racism. Thankfully, it didn't affect my worship of the Mets greatest left fielder.

If Cleon happens to read this... we'll never forget you Jonesy! Thanks for the thrills!

Daron Lumpkins
October 13, 2005
Growing a Met fan, Cleon was my hero. Whenever my buddies and I play baseball I was no.21, and I copied him to the letter. Bat righty and threw lefty. In 73 my church went to see the Mets and I predicted he'd hit a home run, and on his second at bat he creamed it over the centerfield wall. That's what I remember about Cleon Jones!

KMT
October 13, 2005
By far the best leftfielder the Mets ever had! In my opinion it's a tie with Olerud concerning most clutch! As far as how he left the Mets, typical M.D.Grant! Man, this guy could hit! He played an excellent L.F. too! I can't think of him without remembering him catching that last out in '69 on one knee, then sprinting across the outfield headed for the bullpen to escape the onrushing crowd! What a great memmory!

BobR
November 6, 2005
And don't forget that Cleon led the National League in batting through most of the 1969 season! It was only near the end of the season when injuries slowed him down that Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente passed him....not bad company to be in!

Metfanforlife
November 6, 2005
He was my hero as a kid. I just loved him.

I met him years later at Shea. They were honoring previous Mets championship teams, and he was standing in the Diamond Club, chatting with Tommie Agee and Bill Robinson. I saw him when I walked in and was completely star-struck, like I was 12 years old again. I went up to him and said something brilliant like, "Cleon Jones! You were my favorite Met!" He was really gracious, big smile, said thank you, that's so kind, and autographed my program. Tommie Agee started kidding him, saying "Hey, what about me?"

It's really nice when your childhood heroes live up to your memories.

Long Time Met Fan
November 23, 2005
For years and years after Cleon Jones was gone I would shout at the TV when the Mets really needed a hit, which seemed to be always, "come on Cleon get a hit!". It would not matter who on the Mets was hitting, somehow I would feel calling the player "Cleon" would make him as good as the real Cleon! The trick usually didn't work, but it is an indication of how well this fan thought Cleon Jones played for the Mets. (Very well.)

Jonathan Stern
November 23, 2005
Cleon Jones bent down on one knee after recording the final out of the 1969 World Series. He then posed for a second or two before running for the clubhouse just as the fans began to storm the field. One of baseball's most beautiful images, in my opinion. And the increasing fadedness of the old footage has only made that image even more larger-than-life for a Generation Xer like me.

Thomas Porky McD
December 2, 2005
Cleon Jones was for me, like so many others, my favorite Met of all-time. He is known for his hitting, of course, but let us not forget that he was also a fine outfielder with a strong arm and one of the top baserunners of his time. He was a star football player as well, when he was young. If you notice, more and more, he is the one that speaks the most eloquently for the old team, when there is an teams sponsored event, of which the Mets are sadly getting away from. And yes, though I love Lenny Dykstra, his five seasons as a Met do not come close to Cleon's time at Shea. Jones' omission from the All-Amazin' team is the one unforgivable and frankly, idiotic mistake made by internet voters who obviously don't know the game. When I published a book a few years back called "Series Endings", I had an artist do the cover art, a rendition of Cleon on one knee for the final out of the '69 World Series, a most effective gesture that made me think as an 8-year-old and also showed that he somehow knew how special that season would remain. God Bless the sweet swinger from Alabama.

DonStok69/73
August 24, 2006
I've read some of the Cleon Jones comments on this site and I must say as a Met fan growing up during the 1970's I always found Mr. Jones hard to comprehend. I never understood his one good, then one bad season period during the late 60's and early 70's. Mr. Jones as every old time Met fan would attest had a natural god-given ability to hit a baseball. A "classic pure hitter" was the comment at the time.

Here's an example: Jones batted .340 in 1969 and contended for the NL batting title. But in 1970 Cleon batted .277 (He was hitting .245 until a strong September finish raised his average.) In 1971 he batted a robust .319. But a .245 average during 1972 season quickly followed.

I know the common excuse for Cleon Jones is he was often injured. Maybe so. But I felt the REAL reason Cleon Jones was just a good player but not a great player was his mental make-up. He didn't seem to always want or choose to give his best effort.

Being a young African-American male during the 1970's and with the Mets having very few players of color on their roster, watching Jones on a day-to-day basis was both fantastic and frustating. On the field Jones had a sort of gliding pace about him. He always seemed to give the appearance of someone saving himself for another day. That and the fact about his unability to play with nagging injuries made me question his desire at times. I both enjoyed and was annoyed with his yearly performances.

In closing before there was the unreached potental of Darryl Strawberry there was first the enigma of Cleon Jones.

Joe Figliola
August 24, 2006
Cleon Jones likely is the first Mets player ever referred to me. My brother's then-girlfriend Andrea brought over a Mets cap and on the brim was Cleon's signature. Right away, I identified with him and immediately thought he was as important as the only other baseball players I had heard of at the time--George Ruth and Hank Gehrig. And, man, was he important for the Mets.

Bob P. likely can confirm this, but one of my favorite Cleon Jones moments occurred in 1972. He hit an extra-inning home run to beat the Phillies. I think it was the first game of a doubleheader. Another was his torrid hitting in the final six weeks of the '73 season. I also recall getting very pissed off for not getting his Topps baseball card in 1974, which features a shot of him hitting the ball so hard that his feet left the ground. I also believe that had his knee been stronger, he would have hit over .300 instead of the .282 he settled for. Him, Jerrys Grote and Koosman and Ed Kranepool's pinch-hitting helped make that season a little more tolerable for me.

Cleon made Mets baseball that much more exciting for me.

Bob P
September 8, 2006
Joe, thanks for the shout-out. I looked it up and it appears the game you are referring to was the first game of a twi-nighter at Shea on August 1, 1972. Cleon did win it in extra innings, but the details are slightly different from the way you remember them.

Cleon did indeed hit a home run in the game, but it came in the bottom of the eighth. That homer put the Mets in front, 2-1. Jon Matlack then gave up a game tying homer to Don Money leading off the ninth. The game wound up going 18 innings before Cleon won it with a bases-loaded single off Phillies reliever Bucky Brandon.

Jamey Bumbalo
November 1, 2006
It's great to read so many wonderful postings about Cleon. He truly is one of the all-time best Mets. It's too bad he is remembered for the van incident. I was just a kid when it happened and I didn't really understand it, but looking back at it now, who cares? I do recall thinking what a jerk M. Donald Grant was for the way he handled it (and Grant was a complete jerk). And who can forget that when Cleon made his first appearance in a game after the incident, he received a huge ovation. Cleon was a great hitter and a fine fielder. I hope he knows how much Mets fans appreciate all he did for the team. Thanks, Cleon, and whatever you're doing now, I hope you're content.

agee_of_aquarius
August 5, 2007
Does anybody remember how Cleon would walk to the plate, stop outside the batter's box and take two (only two) practice swings, nice level swings, not too fast... and then step into the box?

Jamey Bumbalo
September 16, 2007
We all know Ed Kranepool was the last of the original Mets, but doesn't Cleon make it as as an almost- original,long-serving Met? He was with the Mets in 1963 and then 1965-75. Did anyone else start that early and last that long into the '70s? I don't think so.

Steven Gallanter
September 16, 2007
Yes, exactly!

The swings would be slightly in front of his left shoulder and perfectly level.

Jones' greatest asset was his skill at swinging in front of his body so as to able to catch a fastball at its highest height.

Right on!

Bklyn Met
September 16, 2007
Yes I do remember the two slow swings before he got in the box agee_of_aquarius. Then he would reach across the plate to the outside front corner to make sure his swing could cover it from where he was standing in the box. Someone above mentions the van incident, l remember that as well but I was also to young to understand that he was being treated like a bad boy. If he was white they would have quickly tried to bury that.

Dan
October 4, 2007
I remember when I was about twelve years old and he was traded to the Chisox. I went to see them play the dreaded Yankees up in the Bronx, waited outside after the game while all these other punks were swarming around Thurman Munson and Graig Nettles I walked along with Cleon afterwards through the parking lot to his car and told him he was the greatest player in New York baseball, and that I'd never forgive Yogi for giving him a hard time and letting him get away. He smiled broadly and patted me on the head and in this great Mobile accent said "Thanks, kid."

Feat Fan
October 15, 2007
My father was a man of few words and a baseball fan. Back in his day, NY had Mays, Mantle and Snider to brag about. In my day, it was Cleon Jones. I remember a June game when Cleon went 3-4 and was hitting .365+. My father was SO UNIMPRESSED. "Seeing eye hits, Texas Leaguers and bad hop singles. He's the weakest .365 hitter you'll ever see."

As an impressionable 14-year-old starved for pop's approval I agreed to agree and for the rest of CJ's time here, referred to him as the Weakest .340 Hitter Ever!

Sorry Cleon, let's see what I'd hit, maybe .012!

DB
March 18, 2008
Yes I was just 10 years old, but I remember running home every day after school to watch the World Series. We didn't have that prime time stuff back then. Cleon was my Man and he and Tommie Agee I looked up to along with Tom Seaver; they actually pitched complete games back then. I will never forget those days I promise you that. Cleon, if you ever get the chance to read all these messages you should be proud of yourself and remember nobody is perfect.

Donna
June 21, 2008
The firing of Willie Randolph and the Newsday comments from readers put me in mind of Cleon Jones. I was about 11 years old when that incident occurred with him and some woman in a van. I had no idea what any of that was about, but I do remember that he was one of my favorite Mets along with Tommie Agee. I remember that Gil Hodges was very hard on him--particuarly a Newsday clipping where he complained about Jones' slightly above .200 batting average and how "they [Mets]" would have to do "something about it." I found all of that quite troubling.

Tom McDonald
August 4, 2008
Today is Cleon's 66th birthday. He was a fine ballplayer, a great hitter and a thoroughly underrated outfielder. He will always be my favorite Met of all-time and I recall how nice he was to kids like me, when we used to get autographs in the late 60's/early 70's, before memorabilia parasites made that once endearing activity into a soulless, money-driven industry.

The incident with Hodges taking him off the field was not about lack of hustle, it was about his bad foot, and the fact that he wasn't moving at his usual speed. Neither Jones nor Hodges ever had any problem and Jones was always up front about thanking Hodges for helping his career. In addition, Cleon in retirement always maintained that he believed he could have been a better player. How many guys, then or now, would say such a thing?

One other thing: In every online poll driven vote, there seems to be at least one glaring mistake. On the All-Amazin' Team a few years back, that mistake was Lenny Dykstra in the outfield with Darryl and Mookie, instead of Cleon Jones. Like everyone, I love Lenny, but he was here less than half the time Cleon was, and was not as important to the franchise, in a much more critical time. He also was not as good a ballplayer. Happy Birthday, Cleon.

Peter Stalter
February 20, 2009
Call it what you will, I'm a 50-year-old male with a mini shrine to Cleon Jones in my office. Back in '69 when all a 10-year-old had to think about was fishing and summer vacation, Cleon, and the Amazin's, gave us a reason to believe the impossible. Always was, and always will be, my favorite Met. Please note that this is a family Met obsession. When the Mets won in '69 my mom painted the side of our garage with 4 foot high letters "NY Mets 69 World Champs." A real laugh for the neighborhood, not so much for my dad who had to repaint the garage a week later. Cleon Jones...we could use more players like that today!

joseph c. fox
November 18, 2009
he was my favorite player on the Mets starting in 1968. 1969 was a magical year for me and the Mets.i was nine years old and I rememberit as being one of the happiest times in my life. cleon jones was in the middle of every met rally that year. he also batted 319 in 1971 and hit 6 home runs in the last ten games of the 1973 regular season to help them clinch the division. part of the reason I became more of yankee fan is how cleon was treated by that racist plantation owner M.Donald Grant. the only one cleon needed to apologize to was his wife I HAD the opportunity to meet Mr. Cleon Jones on April19, 2008 at an autograph show. All I CAN say is total class and a GENTLEMAN. He took a picture with me and then waited for my wife to come back with our son to take a picture with him , me and my son. tom Seaver and jerry koosman were there that day too and didn't even bother to look up at us , what a contrast with the CLASSY Mr. Jones Cleon also inscribed on the autographed picture .340 b.a. 1969 meeting my boyhood idol is a memory I WILLCHERISH TILL THE DAY I DIE.

crackers from waxhaw
February 2, 2010
Cleon Jones could certainly have been a greater player. He was certainly capable of smacking well over 20 homers, driving in 80-100 ribbies, stealing over 20-30 bases and hitting over .280 regularly. What he probably lacked was not so much personal work ethic or attitude, but a rock-solid professionally run team management and coaching.

Had Jones been traded away soon after 1969, instead of Amos Otis or Ken Singleton, to a team that knew how to get the most out of a great hitter, he would have probably delivered Hall-of-Fame numbers. The Mets let him get run down, injured too much.

He had great power but never had more than 14 homers or 70-some-odd ribbies in a year. Partly his fault - there are players who obviously self motivate better - but the Mets were unique in constantly squandering great talent, either by trading them away, or failing to properly develop and protect them.

I too thank Mr. Jones for many great memories. If I can point out his rotten luck in staying a Met so long, the Mets also had Paul Blair in their system in 1962. His good fortune they let him go quickly to the Orioles, where he had a great, well-respected career, on a great, dynasty-caliber team. Had Jones gone to Baltimore instead, he might have ended up with Frank Robinson type numbers.

Bob P
February 6, 2010
I have to respectfully disagree with the post about Cleon above. Cleon was a nice player, and--on a team full of banjo hitters in a pitcher's era in pitcher's park--Cleon put up some decent numbers.

But I strongly disagree with the opinion that he could have put up numbers similar to Frank Robinson. Frank averaged 34 homers per 162 games in his career; his lifetime slugging percentage was .537 (Cleon's single season high was .482); and Frank drove in 100 runs six times plus three more seasons where he finished with 95-99 RBIs.

Cleon was a nice player who had a career year in 1969 and a very short peak period.

Evan Smith
February 7, 2010
I met Cleon Jones in a dry cleaners in St. Albans, Queens where I once lived. I entered the store and there he was sitting on the ledge near the window chatting with the owner. We had a brief chat, and he was pleasant and soft-spoken.

MetsMind
March 21, 2010
Cleon was a good ballplayer, he could run, hit, hit with SOME power, and throw( incredibly accurate left arm), but if you recall his early stints with the Mets he struggled mightily to stay in the lineup. They tried him all over the outfield but he couldn't hit. If the Mets did him any disservice, it was not letting him finish developing as a minor leaguer ( al a Kranepool).

It was the trade for Agee AND a regular place in the lineup that let Cleon finally settle in and do his thing. But Cleon, like Jim Ray Hart, and even Dick Allen, wasn't going to make their ENTIRE existence about playing ball. It was their superior athleticism that let them accomplish what they did. They weren't the types of guys like a Wade Boggs whose daily commitment made him great.

In retrospect, trading Cleon in the early 70's may have been a good move, but those teams had nobody to bat 3rd and so his place remained secure.

Edgy DC
March 28, 2010
I think the Mets were forced by the "bonus baby" rules of the time to promote Cleon before his time. It was a disservice to the development of a lot of players, but rules was rules.

Sixty-Niner
June 16, 2010
Cleon was clearly the Mets' best hitter in 1969. His .340 batting average was third in the National League and a team high for years. In the NLCS, he hit over .400 with a home run and 4 RBIs. He also scored the winning run in the World Series clincher and made the final putout of that final game. Cleon was one of the top 'Miracle Mets.'

Three days after clinching the Series, the Mets sang the song "Heart" (from a show of the ironic title of 'Damn Yankees') on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' Cleon did not appear on the show with the rest of his teammates. As the camera scanned the lines of the (somewhat) singing Mets' players, Cleon was not seen among them. It was an enjoyable thing to watch, but it seemed incomplete without Cleon there.

Why was Cleon not on the Sullivan show that night? Does anyone know the answer to that?

Thomas Clark
July 13, 2010
I asked Cleon about this once -- about his absence from the Canyon of Heroes parade and the team's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He said at the time, his heart was in his hometown outside Mobile, Alabama -- his family, his friends, his neighbors. He wanted to celebrate the win with all the folks who helped him get to the Championship. So right after the win, he and Angela flew home to Alabama. I don't think he knew that the parade and TV appearance were in the works, otherwise, I think he may have stayed in New York for a few extra days.

Merkurios
June 29, 2011
I went to a signing at Steiner in Garden City. They were charging an extra 10 bucks to add an inscription. What money grubbers they are at Steiner. Cleon was great, he signed my ball "Best, Cleon Jones, Last Out!"

Greg Bennett
November 11, 2011
Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee were among my favorite Mets of 1969. I was there with my buddy Jimmie Walsh for the 5th Game World Series victory over Frank and Brooks Robinson and the Baltimore O's. We ran on the field and took sod. My friend's Dad was a WW2 and Korean War veteran and he brought champagne into Shea that day.

I recall Cleon's great short swing and body action, a natural hitter. He and Tommie Agee were boyhood friends. Unfortunately I sold my copy of the book, "The Mets From Mobile."

That area of Alabama gave us Hank and Tommie Aaron, Willie Mays and McCovey, Billy Williams and I believe Jim Ray Hart and more.

Thank you Cleon, you were framed by the Mets. And Yogi sat Willie Mays during the 1973 World Series, but I adore Yogi too. Cleon I believe is the best Met hitter ever.

ERIC S
February 15, 2013
By far my favorite Met, though I had several. I wore 21 when I went to Mets Camp several years ago. Thought about 41 (Seaver), 36 (Kooz), 17 (Gaspar? Hernandez) 15 (Grote), 12 (Boswell), 7 (Krane) and even 6 (Super sub), but it had to be Cleon. Never in doubt.

I remember as a kid reading whatever I could find about Cleon, and I agree with other fans that he was highly underrated. Like another person who wrote on this blog, I remember the Kiner's Korner in which Ralph suggested the show should be Cleon's.

I have lots of Cleon memorabilia. He provided a lot of great moments on Channel 9. I love that he always walked behind the catcher and ump in approaching the plate. Was always respectful. Loved following him!

chris
November 20, 2013
Cleon was my hero growing up. I read his book that he published in 1970. He sounded so well polished and polite but I did notice he had an attitude in the 70's. Can anyone tell me what was happening to Cleon then? Plus, when he was released from the Mets in 75 I stopped watching BB for years.

Phil Maillard
April 28, 2014
Growing up in New York my three favorite athletes were Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Cleon Jones.









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