Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Donn Clendenon. Clendenon started his career with the Pirates and after eight seasons was selected by the newly formed Montreal Expos in the expansion draft. Before the Expos even took the field they attempted to trade Clendenon to the Houston Astros. The Expos were getting a very good player in Rusty Staub, someone who would become their first star before the wave of Dawson, Raines, Carter and others came to fruition. The problem was that the Astros had hired Harry Walker to manage the team, and Clendenon – who had clashed with Walker when he managed the Pirates – wanted nothing to do with that. The Expos reworked the deal to get Staub and in June of 1969 they sent Clendenon to the Mets. At the time of the deal the Mets were nine games out of first place in the first year of divisional play. This is not to say that Clendenon was the reason, but the Cubs played .500 ball the rest of the way (Sorry, Mike) and the Mets caught fire, going 70-36 from there on to win the NL East. After sweeping the Braves in the NLCS . . .
Quit side note: No one in sports owns a globe. Atlanta was put in the West divisions in both the NFL and MLB while the Cowboys have been in the NFC East since the division was formed in 1970. When San Antonio joined the NBA they were put in the Eastern Conference while the Milwaukee Bucks were in the West. Also, the Houston Rockets were also in the East. Why? They started in San Diego! Just because they moved east does not mean they are in the east! Anyway . . .
. . . the Mets played the seemingly unbeatable Orioles. Clendenon did not play against the Braves, but made a big impact against the Orioles. He was 5 for 14 in the series with three home runs and a double with four RBI and also two walks for a .357/.438/1.071 line in four of the five series games as the Mets pulled off the upset. Clendenon was voted World Series MVP. He retired three years later, earned his degree, and became practicing law. I know this will sound shocking to people who read these, but he also battled drug addiction. During his rehab he discovered he had leukemia. He passed away in 2005 from his battles.
If you look at the list of World Series MVP’s, you can see how Clendenon completely fits in. Of the 59 players who have won the award 13 are in the Hall of Fame. And then you have Don Larson, Mickey Lolich, Clendenon, Gene Tenace, Bucky Dent, Rick Dempsey, Pat Borders, Scott Brosius, David Eckstein, and David Freese, to name a few. Hey, a lot of guys have undistinguished careers in the majors. These guys, like Clendenon, get their moment under the brightest spotlight and get remembered for it.