Remembering Tommie Agee

Tommie AgeeLet’s remember the life of Tommie Agee, who played enjoyed a wonderful twelve-year major league baseball career, most notably as a star of the 1969 World Champion Mets.   I hated the Mets, but not Tommie.  He was a great guy and an amazing ballplayer.  I liked and respected him a lot.  He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with the White Sox in 1966 with 80% of the vote; if anyone cares, I was a rookie that year and received zero votes.  Chicago got him from the Indians in what now looks like a lopsided trade involving three teams: Cleveland sent him, Tommy John and John Romano to Chicago for Cam Carreon; the White Sox sent Fred Talbot, Mike Hershberger and Jim Landis to Kansas City, who in turn sent Rocky Colavito on a return trip to the Indians (who seemed unafraid of the Curse of Rocky Colavito.)

Tommie was a career .300 hitter against me.  The first time I saw him was at Yankee Stadium on May 28, 1966.  He was the leadoff batter in that game and he hit a first pitch single to Roger Repoz in right field.  He was taking huge leads off first and with Don Buford at At-Bat, Ralph Houk ordered a pitch out and Elston Howard picked him off.  All of my games are memorable to me, especially the ones from 1966, but this particular game always bothered me.  It had been raining since the third inning, and with the game tied, 2-2, after five full innings, the umpires called it for weather after a delay of nearly an hour.  Yankee fans were irate because a game called after that point technically invalidated their rain checks.  The club, sensing a possible public relations problem – Bob Fishel was good at that, as was Marty Appel after him – decided to honor the rain checks anyway.  But the game was if it never happened, at least statistically.  I still had to wait a few days to rest.

Anyway, back to Tommie.  He was a great ballplayer and a wonderful man.  I still think it‘s sort of cool that he and Cleon Jones were friends since they were kids and won a World Series as outfielders together.  He died in 2001 at age 58 of a heart attack; he would have been 74 today.  Baseball misses him.

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