Cleon Jones: Without Hodges, We Wouldn't Be Talking About 1969 Mets

LISTEN: 1969 Mets Great Joined CMB

Maggie Gray & Bart Scott
June 27, 2019 - 3:20 pm

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Categories: 

The 1969 Mets were one of the most memorable teams not just in the franchise's history, but in baseball history. They were a true last-to-first story that really came out of nowhere. That team will be honored Friday-Sunday at Citi Field when the Mets play the Braves. 

Stream MLB games now on fuboTV.

Cleon Jones was a pivotal member of that 1969 Mets team. Jones joined WFAN's Carlin, Maggie and Bart on Thursday to look back on some memories from that team. 

"It seems like it was only yesterday. Time does fly. We're happy to be anywhere after 50 years," Jones said.

Related: Mets Honor Tom Seaver With Street Renaming, Announce Statue In Works

Gil Hodges managed that 1969 World Series champion Mets. Hodges was a pivotal part of that team's success.

"What you should know about the team is a manager does matter. If not for Gil Hodges, we wouldn't be talking about the 1969 Mets," Jones told CMB. "He prepared us from day one. In the spring of 1969, he told us that we were better than we thought we were and it would be proven during the season. We all looked around at one another and said 'what in the hell is he on?' It proved out that we were better than what we thought. We ended up being world champions." 

Hodges has a lot of control on that team. Managers today aren't the same as the effect they used to have. 

"Managers today doesn't have that kind of control," said Jones. "Managers in my day had complete field control. Certainly Gil Hodges had it. We were there to service and do what we were told. If we had a gripe, we did it one-on-one with the manager. Gil Hodges exudes control and stature and the kind of leadership that a young ball club needed at that time. If you did something wrong, he would always call you into the office and talk to you one-on-one. He didn't have meetings to talk about what one individual may have done in error. All of us knew he was in control. To me if he had lived, he would be a Hall of Fame manager. No doubt about it." 

The Mets came back from a 9.5 game deficit to the Cubs in August to win the division and win a title. When did they know it was meant to be? 

"Around August, we thought we were the best team in baseball. We acted like it. We spoke like it. We talked about it," Jones said. "We thought we could handle anyone. Whenever we went into Chicago or Los Angeles, we felt like we would be victorious. No way we were going to lose a series. We were thinking about sweeping everybody. That's the mentality of the ball club. I don't know how you go from last to a good team and think you're the best team within a few months, but that's what happened to this ball club."

You can hear the entire interview with the former Mets outfielder in the audio player above. The interview begins at the 12:10 mark. 

Listen to Mets games this season on the team's new flagship station -- our sister station -- WCBS 880 AM.