50 Years Later: Jones, Shamsky And Kranepool Reflect On 1969 Mets

February 23, 2019 - 6:51 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Former Mets players Cleon Jones, Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool sat down with WCBS 880 to talk about what they’re up to on the 50-year anniversary of the 1969 World Series-winning team.

Listen to the full Cleon Jones interview:

Cleon Jones is a name Mets fans of a certain age know as the man who caught the final out of the 1969 World Series. He talked with Howie Rose about that final out and what it meant to him.

“I was in another world,” Jones said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I think David Johnson said it best: ‘That was some supreme being hovering over Shea Stadium.’ Because he said that was the hardest ball he’s ever hit in his career.”

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Of the catch, Jones said: “I did a little prayer. I said, ‘Come on down, baby, come on.’ And I kneeled and said, ‘Thank God.’ And when I collected myself I was headed to the right-field bullpen and I realized that I wasn’t going to make it. The crowd had already taken over the infield and they was headed to the outfield.”

Jones has been spending his post baseball life back home in Alabama in the town of Africatown. He has become a community leader and is working to build a museum to display the history of the town.

“Africatown is the town that made Cleon Jones. It was responsible for me getting to the big leagues and being the player that I became as a major leaguer,” he said. “As a young kid my grandmother and great grandmother raised me. They had no money to buy gloves or a ball, so people supported me and everything I did at that time.”

Listen to the full Art Shamsky interview:

Art Shamsky is one of the most outspoken members of the 1969 Mets, and he’s written a book that interviews some of the biggest names from 1969, including Tom Seaver who has had some health issues the past few years. The book, “After the Miracle: The Lasting Brotherhood of the '69 Mets,” comes out next month.

“We wanted to do something different. It wasn’t just going to be a book about what this game did, and next game. Anybody can go online and see that. We decided that we wanted to get together with some of the players who weren’t going to be able to travel anymore. And the first one that came to mind is Tom Seaver, who has not been really well in the last few years.”

Shamsky also has been a big supporter of trying to get Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame.

“He had such a great career as a player in the 50s, and if you stop and think about it. If you’re a historian and you know this... If you look at his career against people like Ron Santo, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez. Those guys may have had more home runs or may RBIs but he’s in that category.”

“It boggles my mind why someone like himself, who was such a good representative of baseball, is not in the Hall of Fame,” Shamsky said.

Listen to the full Ed Kranepool interview:

Ed Kranepool was also in town as the Mets celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 Mets. He spent some time with Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso and gave him some pointers on his at bats earlier in the day.

“I said mentally you’ve got to prepare yourself to hit,” Kranepool said. “You can’t give the opportunity for a pitcher to get you in a hole. And spring training I told him is the most important time for him as a player trying to make the ball club. Make a good impression on every at-bat, take advantage of it. And then, of course, on defense – the same thing. You’ve got to go and work on this, because everybody’s watching him the first two weeks of spring training, and they expect a lot from this boy, and he’s got some raw power.”

Kranepool also talked about what it was like when Donn Clendenon came in, as well as the anniversary of the 1969 team.

“You know, being from New York, people want to talk about ‘69. They always do. So it doesn’t seem like it’s 50 years. But it is exciting just to see the players. And I really appreciate the Mets what they’ve been doing. You know, they’re bringing us back and putting us into the whole organization again, which has been a lot of fun. And this weekend has been super for us. Cleon, Art and myself have enjoyed ourselves.”