Tommie Agee was a professional baseball player who played as a center fielder for several teams, most notably the New York Mets. He was a key member of the 1969 Mets team that became known as the Miracle Mets, when they won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles in one of the most improbable upsets in baseball history. Agee died of a heart attack on January 22, 2001, at the age of 58.
A Star on the Field
Tommie Lee Agee was born on August 9, 1942, in Mobile, Alabama. He played baseball and football at Mobile County Training School with future Mets teammate Cleon Jones. He signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1961, after one season at Grambling State University. He made his major league debut in 1962, and played for the Indians until 1964, when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox.
Agee had a breakout season in 1966, when he hit 22 home runs, stole 44 bases, and won the American League Rookie of the Year award. He also won his first Gold Glove award for his defensive excellence. He was selected to the All-Star team in 1966 and 1967, and became one of the most popular players in Chicago.
In 1968, Agee was traded again, this time to the New York Mets, who were a struggling expansion team that had never finished higher than ninth place in their seven-year history. Agee had a rough start with the Mets, hitting only .217 with five home runs in 1968. However, he bounced back in 1969, leading the team with 26 home runs and 76 RBIs, and helping the Mets win their first division title.
A Hero in the World Series
The Mets faced the Baltimore Orioles, who had won 109 games and were heavily favored to win the World Series. Agee played a crucial role in the Mets’ stunning victory, especially in Game 3, which is considered one of the greatest defensive performances by a single player in World Series history.
Agee hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. He then made two spectacular catches in center field, saving at least five runs. In the fourth inning, he ran into left-center and caught a ball backhanded in the webbing of his glove, robbing Elrod Hendricks with runners at the corners and two outs. In the seventh inning, he made a sliding catch in right-center, taking away a hit from Paul Blair with the bases loaded and two outs. The Mets won the game 5-0, and went on to win the series in five games, becoming the first expansion team to win a World Series.
Agee’s catches are still regarded as some of the best in baseball history, and are often replayed at Shea Stadium, the Mets’ former home. Agee was also a key contributor in the Mets’ 1973 National League pennant, hitting .286 with two home runs and six RBIs in the postseason.
A Tragic End
Agee retired from baseball in 1973, after playing for the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals. He settled in New York, where he worked for a title insurance company and operated a bar near Shea Stadium. He also remained active in the Mets’ community, attending reunions and charity events.
On January 22, 2001, Agee collapsed while walking out of his office building in Manhattan. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a heart attack. He was 58 years old. His death shocked and saddened his former teammates, fans, and the baseball world. He was posthumously inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2002.
Tommie Agee was remembered as a great player, a great person, and a great friend. He left behind a legacy of excellence, courage, and joy on and off the field. His cause of death was a tragic loss for the Miracle Mets and the baseball community.