It’s one of those names that just screams, “Miracle Mets!”

You know the ones … Ed Kranepool, Ron Swoboda, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman … Donn Clendenon

I mean, Clendenon may not have been a starter most of that storied 1969 season like those other dudes listed up there, but he turned on the gas when it counted — dude hit three home runs to help the Mets take down the mighty Baltimore Orioles in the World Series that fall.

Won MVP honors for his trouble.

Before that — through 1968, actually — Clendenon was a standout at first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing second in the 1962 National League Rookie of the Year balloting and reaching double digits in home runs every season.

So, given his status as a Pirate, and then as a Met, how did Clendenon end up with the Montreal Expos and the Houston Astros on his 1969 Topps card?

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Well … the Expos were brand spanking new heading into 1969, which meant they had the chance to draft unprotected players from existing teams in October of 1968.

The Bucs left Clendenon unprotected, the Expos brass liked him, and the rest is history.

Except … still … how did he end up with the Mets?

Well, seems the Expos didn’t really want him to take the field in Montreal at all, given that they tried to trade him to the Astros, along with Jesus Alou, in exchange for Rusty Staub, in January.

Ah, but Clendenon refused to report to the Astros, and the ‘Spos had to come up with someone else to send south in order to hang onto Le Grand Orange. So, they parted ways with Jack Billingham, Skip Guinn, and cash, and started their inaugural season with Donn still in the fold.

Montreal wasn’t done trying to move Clendenon, though, and swung a mid-June trade with the Mets: Clendenon for Jay Carden, David Colon, Kevin Collins, Steve Renko, and Terry Dailey (the PTBNL).

And then, the rest was history.

Except …

By that point, the damage was done from a baseball card perspective.

See, Topps did their best to show the expansion draft guys with their new teams in the 1969 base set, so they dutifully rolled out a picture of Clendenon there on card #208, wearing a batting helmet with the Pittsburgh ‘P’ brushed out and with an EXPOS designation across the bottom of the card.

And then, when Montreal sent him to Houston, but before Clendenon didn’t go to Houston, Topps acted again — same card, but now with a big HOUSTON on the bottom of the card front.

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So when weather turned cold and the Mets were still playing and Mets fans reached for the card of their new hero — it was all Expos and Astros.

You gotta think a few of those cards ended up with ballpoint METS as a final destination designation, right?

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1969 Topps Baseball Cards - commons, VG to EX

End Date: Saturday 07/06/2024 23:19:29 EDT
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