Mets History: Tommie Agee becomes first position player to win a Gold Glove in both leagues
Tommie Agee made MLB history on November 21, 1970, when the New York Mets outfielder became the first position player to win a Gold Glove in both leagues.
On November 21, 1970, New York Mets outfielder Tommie Agee made baseball history: he became the first non-pitcher to win a Gold Glove in both the American and National League. Before joining the Mets, Agee began his career with scattered playing time from 1962-1964 for the Cleveland Indians. He was then traded as part of a three-team deal to the Chicago White Sox.
In Chicago, Agee enjoyed his first real taste of success in the major leagues. His official rookie season was in 1966, when all he did was make the All-Star team, hit 22 home runs with 86 RBI, score 98 runs, smack 27 doubles, and win the Rookie of the Year. Agee also finished 8th in MVP voting that year, losing out on that award to future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
But Agee’s fielding in 1966 was also remarkable and won him additional hardware in the form of his first Gold Glove. That year, he boasted a .982 fielding percentage, turned seven double plays from center field, finished third in the AL with 12 outfield assists, and led the league in center field putouts with 365.
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Clearly, the Mets liked what they saw from afar with Agee, and they traded for him the very next year. After a down year in 1968, Agee went on to be an integral piece of the Mets World Series run in 1969. He was an offensive star in their leadoff spot, leading the Mets in many offensive categories including runs, home runs, and RBI.
One of these home runs came on April 10 against the Montreal Expos. It was his legendary 480-foot blast into the upper left field deck at Shea Stadium, a shot which warranted a painted seat commemorating its status as one of the longest home runs ever hit in Flushing.
Agee continued to cement his Mets legacy with his fielding in the 1969 World Series.
During Game Three, he made two incredible catches that led Sports Illustrated to dub it, “The most spectacular World Series game that any center fielder has ever enjoyed.” The first catch came in the fourth inning, when Agee raced back towards the 396-foot sign and made a running backhanded grab, the ball nearly breaking through the webbing of his glove.
The second of his memorable Game Three catches came in the seventh inning and was a diving catch to his left in center field. It came with the bases loaded against Nolan Ryan and saved three runs in a game that put the Mets ahead for good in that World Series. Agee later affirmed the importance of his Game Three defense by noting, “The homer meant only one run. The catches saved more than that.”
1970 proved to be Agee’s last star season in the major leagues. That year he won his second Gold Glove, his first with the Mets and in the National League. Agee continued to possess one of the largest fielding ranges of any MLB outfielder, though the Mets did not repeat their 1969 success. However, Agee exceeded his 1969 totals of home runs and doubles and remained both an offensive and defensive linchpin of the Amazins in 1970.
Though the Mets have been fortunate to have several Gold Glovers on their roster since Agee, including Keith Hernandez, Carlos Beltran, and Juan Lagares, Agee is undoubtedly one of their most beloved defensive stars. He set the standard for center field defense in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in both the AL and NL.
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Agee was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2002. Perhaps rather fittingly, he was the last Met to be inducted into their Hall of Fame at Shea Stadium, accepting this honor on the field which he patrolled so gracefully all those years before.