This Day In Mets History: Hodges Pulls Cleon Jones For Not Hustling

Every team’s evolution from doormat to contender has that defining moment when somebody grabs the team by the scruff of the neck and shakes it awake.

That moment for the 1969 Mets came on this date when manager Gil Hodges walked out of the dugout and strolled out to left field, where he removed Cleon Jones.

The Mets lost the first game of a doubleheader, 16-3, and were getting pasted in the second, 8-0, when Johnny Edwards doubled past Jones.

It was reported at the time Jones had sustained a leg injury, but it later surfaced Hodges was angry at Jones for not hustling.

The was Jones described it, Hodges came out to him in left field and said, “that ankle is bothering you, you better come out, if you’re nursing it like that”.

A bewildered Jones replied, “I told you I can play through it Gil, the grass is just wet”. But Hodges pulled him from the game anyway and walked away and headed back for the dugout with a deflated Jones following Hodges a few feet behind him with his head hanging low,

Jones was 3-5 that day and was the Mets leading hitter at the time with a .344 batting average. Bur after that doubleheader loss to the Astros, the 1969 Mets reeled off a 45-19 record and the rest as they say was history.

In 2009 during an event honoring the 40th Anniversary of that team, Jones recalled the incident as a galvanizing moment. Jones also said Hodges was his favorite manager.

About John Delcos 577 Articles
I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 30 years, including 18 in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I also covered the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians before that. Today I am a freelance writer and social director for several media outlets and a Senior Editor for Metsmerized Online.