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Trades From The Distant Past - Tommie Agee

Barry DuchanSunday, March 4, 2007
By Barry Duchan

Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

Tommie AgeeAsk any Met fan under 40 with a sense of the past about Tommie Agee and he'll probably tell you that Agee was the terrific center fielder who helped the Miracle Mets win the 1969 World Series. And he'd be right. But, as trades for centerfielders go, after his first season with the club, Agee was right up there as a failure with his predecessors, Cowan, and Bosch.

The Mets traded Tommy Davis, probably their best all-around hitter, and Jack Fisher, their former #1 starter to the White Sox for Agee, Al Weis, and minor league catcher Buddy Booker. Agee was a former rookie of the year, a solid centerfielder with great speed and outstanding power who struck out an awful lot. Kind of like Billy Cowan. Except that Agee already had a ROY season behind him.

Agee promptly started spring training by getting hit in the head with a Bob Gibson fastball and struggled all season to get his average over .200. His final numbers, a .218 batting average with 5 homers and 17 RBI for the entire season were disastrous. But both the fans and manager Gil Hodges admired Agee's positive attitude and constant all-out hustle and their faith was rewarded when Agee had a super year in 1969 (and a better one in 1970) giving the Mets the gold glove defense, power hitting, and clutch play they were looking for in a centerfielder. Unfortunately, Agee only had a couple of good years with the Mets and he was later sent away for a couple of nonentities. But, if Agee's day in the sun was short, it was certainly bright and his play throughout the 1969 season and especially in the World Series (coupled with Al Weis' incredible hitting in the Series, especially for someone with a reputation as good field-no hit) made this one of the best trades during the Mets' formative years.

Tommy Davis had a long career as a DH in the American League. Fisher never did much once he left the Mets. But if Weis and Agee weren't long term-solutions for the Mets, their contributions to the 1969 Champions will long be remembered by Mets fans.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (5)

I grew up a fan of Willie Mays. If "fan" is a strong enough expression; I had every statistic of Mays committed to memory, I had a scrapbook of pictures, pages devoted to each of his seasons, clippings from Sporting News and Sport Magazine; the damn thing ran in excess of seventy pages.

So come 1966 I was always looking for another Willie Mays. The Giants were always offering up New Mays's, of course, all of them destined to fall short. But one I saw on another team in a Game of the Week REALLY caught my eye.

He was a short, powerfully built black man, like Mays. In this White Sox game Agee hit a routine single into right field, turned on the burners rounding first base and slid into second with a clean double. It was one hell of a play. I thought I had found the next Mays; and as he built upon his season, culminating in the Rookie Award, I fairly knew I had.

Of course there hasn't really been a next Mays - Mays himself got into a habit of telling various Next Mays's, such as Eric Davis, that they should discourage such talk, that it wasn't fair to them - and Tommy Agee never quite reached that level. But anyone who ever saw him on a good day could not fail to be impressed. He was the sort of player who causes guys like me to follow baseball.

Even though 1968 was the Year of the Pitcher (and Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA) it seems incredible that Agee only had 17 RBI while playing the entire season. I think the low point was early in the year when both Agee and Swoboda went 0-10 in a 24 inning game at the Astrodome.

For the first time the Mets seemed headed in the right direction with young stars like Koosman Seaver Ryan and Jones, and for the first time they lost fewer than 90 games (89) as they barely edged out Houston by one game for ninth place in a 10-team NL. But nobody, and I mean NOBODY, could even imagine a World Championship just one year away.

thats my cousin

Tommie Agee is my Uncle (my dad's brother)!!!

Your uncle was a great man...and a very exciting baseball player. As a kid he was my idol and over the years he was my favorite player of all time, actually. When I finally met him, he was kind and friendly -- it was a dream come true: to find out your boyhood hero is actually a nice guy.

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