On this day in Mets history, outfielder Cleon Jones from Plateau, Alabama, was signed by scout Julian Morgan in 1962.
JONES: Catches final out of 69 Series.
Jones made his major league debut in 1965, but won the starting centerfielder job out of spring training in 1966 and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Jones developed into a star in 1969, and was hitting .341 with 10 homers and 56 RBI and was named the starting left fielder in the All-Star Game.
According to several accounts, the turning point of the Miracle Mets’ season came several weeks later when manager Gil Hodges walked out to left field to pull Jones after failing to hustle.
Forty years later, Jones said Hodges was his favorite manager, and recalled the incident as a pivotal moment in that season. J0nes will always be remembered for catching Davey Johnson’s fly to left for the final out of the 1969 World Series.
Jones was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 1991.
The 69 Miracle Mets caught Chicago well after the All-Star break then sprinted past the Cubs, but there were earlier signs of this being a special summer.
A 20-5 run screamed the Mets would be a serious contender. That included a doubleheader sweep of Philadelphia at Shea Stadium on this date that moved them within 4.5 games of first place.
Tom Seaver pitched a complete game to win the opener, 2-1, backed by a RBI triple from Bud Harrelson and Cleon Jones’ single in the third inning.
Seaver struck out nine and walked only one to raise his record to 11-3.
In the nightcap, the Mets scored four runs in the fourth inning to back Jim McAndrew, who gave up two hits in eight innings in the 5-0 victory.
FIRST GAME BOX
SECOND GAME BOX
There were a lot of special moments in 1969 ranging from the black cat to Seaver’s near perfect game to the late-season pitching run. However, what signs were there that made you believe this would be a year like no other in Mets history?
Preserve Shea memories
You can still see her, Shea Stadium, when you drive to LaGuardia. Pretty soon, she’ll only be in photographs and memories.
What is now Shea Stadium will become a parking lot, which is how these things work, but I wish there would be a way to prevent an old Volvo from leaking oil on the site where the ball got by Buckner, or where Cleon Jones caught the final out of the 1969 World Series, or where Tommie Agee made those catches, or the mound where Tom Seaver excelled for so many years.
Go ahead, make it a parking lot, but on those spots and others, block off the area and preserve it with a plaque, or small statue, or something that reminds future generations something special happened here.
I called Mets the other day and asked them their plans, and was told they don’t know what they plan, yet. I just hope they don’t get so caught up in the new place that they fail to preserve some special memories.