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