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Tommie Lee Agee (August 9, 1942 in Magnolia, Alabamamarker - January 22, 2001 in New York Citymarker) was a center fielder most noted for making what were arguably two of the greatest catches in World Series history, both of which occurred in the same game. Agee was the Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star, and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, the MLB Comeback Player of the Year winner in 1969, and he was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in . His major league career was split between five teams: Cleveland Indians (1962-64), Chicago White Sox (1965-67), New York Mets (1968-72), Houston Astros (1973) and St. Louis Cardinals (1973).

Career

Tommie Agee was a star at Grambling State Universitymarker. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians for a $60,000 bonus. He made only a few token appearances for the Indians over the next few years before being traded to the White Sox before the season. That year, a solid season in which he had 98 runs, 84 runs batted in, and 44 stolen bases, earned him the Rookie of the Year award, a Gold Glove, and a trip to the 1966 All-Star game.

His follow-up performance the next year was not nearly as impressive, despite another all-star selection: on a team loaded with pitching and short on offense (no regular batted over .250), he batted .234 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs. The team's lack of offense possibly cost the White Sox the American League pennant; they had battled with the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox (the eventual AL champions) until the final week of the season. At the end of the season, Agee and Al Weis were traded to the New York Mets in a six-player deal, with four players (among them Tommy Davis and Jack Fisher) going to the White Sox. The trade re-united Agee with childhood friend Cleon Jones.

Agee's first season in New York ( ) was also a disaster: he was beaned by Bob Gibson on the very first pitch he saw in spring training and went 0-34 at the beginning of the season on his way to a .217 batting average and only 17 RBIs.

The spot where Agee's home run landed at Shea Stadium.
The marker was removed during the demolition of Shea Stadium and was sold to a private collector.


The 1969 Mets were known as the "Miracle Mets" for their turnaround in the National League, and Agee's personal turnaround played a big part. That season, Agee hit 26 homers, scored 97 runs, and played brilliant defense. He also had a team-leading 76 RBIs, which is particularly notable because Agee was the Mets' leadoff batter. On April 10, 1969 in a game against the Montreal Expos, he hit a tremendous home run halfway up in section 48 of the left field upper deck at Shea Stadiummarker, a feat that was never matched. Jones says the ball was still rising when it came into contact with the stands. To commemorate the homer, there was a painted sign in that section of the stadium with Agee's name, uniform number, and the date. The sign, painted on the concrete, was removed during the demolition of Shea Stadium and sold to a private collector, who has it on display in his backyard.

World Series Performance 1969

In the 1969 World Series, he was instrumental in the Mets' victory in Game 3, in which Sports Illustrated said Agee achieved perhaps the greatest single performance by a center fielder in Series history. In the first inning of Game 3, Agee hit a leadoff home run off Jim Palmer for what would eventually be the game winning hit and RBI, as the Mets shut out the Orioles, 5-0. (Interestingly, two other Mets would also hit Game 3 lead-off home runs in subsequent World Series: Wayne Garrett—a teammate of Agee on the 1969 Mets—in the 1973 World Series and Lenny Dykstra in the 1986 World Series.) In the same game, Agee also made two incredible catches that potentially saved five runs. The first was a two-on, two out liner to left center by Elrod Hendricks, for which Agee had to sprint across the outfield and snare the drive in the webbing of his glove, a millisecond before he hit the wall. The second catch was on a fly ball hit by Paul Blair with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, for which Agee had to sprint toward the right center field warning track. As Agee zeroed in on the ball, the wind blew it down and away from him, forcing him to lunge into a headfirst dive to snare the sinking liner, after which he rolled in the warning track but held onto the ball. At that moment, Blair was rounding second. Had Agee missed the ball, the Orioles might have had an inside the park grand-slam home run. On an historical note, Blair's drive came off Nolan Ryan, who had just entered the game to relieve Mets' starting pitcher Gary Gentry. This would be the only time Ryan would appear in a Fall Classic game in his 27-year career.

Later Career

Agee remained productive over the next two years after 1969, stitching together a 20-game hitting streak in , hitting for the cycle in July and batting .286 for the '70 season. He also won his second Gold Glove award that same year, making him the first African-American to win a Gold Glove in both leagues. Agee's solid hitting continued for one more season, when he batted .285 in 1971. He was traded to the Houston Astros after the 1972 season to make way for Willie Mays, who returned to New York from the San Francisco Giants. Agee finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Retirement

After retirement, he operated the Outfielder's Lounge near Shea Stadiummarker. Agee was also known as the most active former Met, taking part in many charitable events and children's baseball clinics around the New York area. In 2001, Tommie Agee died of a heart attack at age 58.

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