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Tommy Agee's career stats
Members of '69 'Miracle Mets' attend Agee's funeral
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Agee dies of heart attack at 58
NEW YORK -- Tommie Agee, the center fielder who made two of the greatest catches in World Series history to help the New York Mets win their unexpected title in 1969, died Monday of a heart attack at age 58.
Agee was pronounced dead at 1:05 p.m. ET, hospital spokeswoman Lorinda Klein said.
"It's a shock to all of us," former Mets teammate Ed Kranepool said. "Tommie and I maintained a close friendship since our playing days. He was a conscientious person who did so much for the kids of the city."
Agee spent 12 seasons in the major leagues with Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox, the Mets, Houston and St. Louis, retiring in 1973 with a .255 career average, 130 home runs and 433 RBI. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1966 after stealing 44 bases for Chicago.
"He was a great friend and the way he conducted himself after his playing days were over was admirable. He's gone way too soon," said Ron Swoboda, another teammate on the "Miracle Mets."
"Tommie Agee was indeed one of the all-time great Mets," team chairman Nelson Doubleday said. "His spirit and soul will be sorely missed by all."
Agee led the Mets in home runs (26) and RBI (76) in 1969 but is best remembered for his performance in Game 3 of the World Series, which still is replayed repeatedly by the Mets at Shea Stadium.
He homered off Jim Palmer leading off the bottom of the first inning and made two catches that probably saved five runs.
First, he dashed into left-center in the fourth inning and stuck out his glove, catching the ball backhanded in the webbing to rob Elrod Hendricks with runners at the corners and two outs. That preserved a 3-0 New York lead.
In the seventh, he made a sliding catch in right-center to rob Paul Blair with two outs and the bases loaded.
"The homer meant only one run," Agee said after the game. "The catches saved more than that."
The crowd of 56,335 gave Agee a standing ovation when he led off the bottom of the seventh.
"Words can't describe how that made me feel," he said. "I felt like I wanted to hit two home runs in that one time at bat."
The catches immediately were rated among the best in Series play, along with grabs by Al Gionfriddo off Joe DiMaggio (1947), Willie Mays off Vic Wertz (1954) and Sandy Amoros off Yogi Berra (1955).
"They rank with Sandy Amoros' play," said Mets manager Gil Hodges, who played for that Brooklyn Dodgers team.
New York went on to a 5-0 victory and, helped by a spectacular grab by Ron Swoboda against Brooks Robinson in the ninth inning of Game 4, went on to beat heavily favored Baltimore 4-1, becoming the first expansion team to win a World Series.
Tommie Lee Agee was born on Aug. 9, 1942, in Mobile, Ala. He was a stocky 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds when he made it to the major leagues with Cleveland in 1962, but he had some speed and went on to steal 167 bases in his major league career.
The Mets, who finished last or ninth in each of their first seven seasons, never started the same center fielder on opening day in consecutive years before the arrival of Agee.
He was acquired from the White Sox on Dec. 15, 1967, for outfielder Tommy Davis, right-handers Jack Fisher and Billy Wynne and catcher Buddy Booker.
Agee was New York's opening-day center fielder for five straight seasons, leading off four times, then was traded to Houston on Nov. 27, 1972, for outfielder Rich Chiles, who got into only eight games with New York, and right-hander Buddy Harris, who got into none.
Agee's best seasons were 1966, when he hit .273 for the White Sox with 22 homers and 86 RBI, and 1969, when he batted .271 for the Mets.
In recent years, Agee worked for Stewart Title Insurance Co. in New York.
He is survived by his wife, Maxine, and daughter Janelle.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
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