Saturday, October 31, 2009


Cleon Jones was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets on July 5, 1962. He made his major league debut with the Mets on September 14, 1963 at the Polo Grounds. His Shea Stadium years would not begin until 1965. Cleon had his greatest professional season for the 1969 World Champion Miracle Mets. Leading the team in hitting with a .340 batting average (third best in the National League) he represented the Mets in that year's MLB All-Star game. Then paired with his childhood friend, Tommie Agee was a major part of the 1969 World Series success. Jones will always be remembered as fielding the final out of the series. Cleon recalls saying to himself at that moment, "Come on down baby. Come on down."

Jones returned to the World Series with the 1973 National Champion Mets. A team that fell just short of defeating the heavily favored Oakland A's. In 1975 he was released by New York and finished his rich career playing a few games for the Chicago White Sox.

Cleon grew up in Mobile County, Alabama. A predominantly African-American area which also featured Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey at that same time. During the 1964 season while Jones was playing for the Mets' minor league team in Buffalo, he had the task of first integrating the team hotel in Atlanta. His courage and determination paved the way for future Mets. "I don't consider myself a pioneer," Cleon graciously said, "I consider Jackie Robinson the pioneer. He was my favorite player of all time. What I went through all day, and then having to go on the field and concentrate, I know how tough it was for me. But I had the confidence and support of my teammates, even white players. When you look back at it, you think of what a great person he was and the sacrifice he made because he did it alone. That's what made him so much better than all of us."

Cleon Jones signed his card in the set for my friend Sam at the B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner on January 27, 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment