Mets Beat AL Opponents Thanks to Fielding Good and Bad

Tom Hauck / Getty Images

Three-fourths of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by Tommie Agee.

In 1970, Tommie Agee became the first Met to win a Gold Glove, though he probably earned the award one year earlier with fielding prowess he displayed during Game Three of the 1969 World Series, played on this date 43 years ago. Agee opened the bottom of the first with a homer off of the Orioles' Jim Palmer, then spent the rest of his day protecting that lead. In the top of the fourth, the fleet-footed center fielder tracked an Elrod Hendricks drive into Shea's left field gap and snagged it on the backhand to save at least one run. Agee outdid himself three frames later. With the bases loaded and two out, Paul Blair flared a ball to right center. Playing Blair to pull, Agee ran nearly the entire length of Shea's outfield expanse and slid his glove under the dying quail before it could nestle in the grass.

Four years later, the Mets took advantage of some sloppy infield defense by the Oakland Athletics to even up the 1973 World Series. With Game Two tied 6-6 in the top of the 12th, New York put the first two runners on against Rollie Fingers, but the mustachioed relief ace quickly retired the next two batters. That brought to the plate Willie Mays, who broke the stalemate with an RBI single, the last of his career, as it would turn out. Much needed insurance runs came courtesy of A's second baseman Mike Andrews, who allowed two to score by letting a ball through the wickets and another one on an errant throw. The three unearned tallies would prove to be the winning margin, as the A's rallied for one in the bottom of the inning.

Birthdays

  • Ryan Church (2008-09) is 34. Church hit .278/.340/.412 in just over 600 plate appearances for the Mets and has the distinction of making the last out in Shea Stadium history.
  • Reliever and Cuban food enthusiast Duaner Sanchez turns 33. A key member of the Mets bullpen in 2006, Sanchez put up almost identical numbers in 2008, save for allowing a few more hits. He was last seen pitching for the Long Island Ducks in 2011.
  • Art Shamsky (1968-1971) is 71. Ron Swoboda's platoon partner in right field during the 1969 season, Shamsky pasted northpaws to the tune of a career-high 139 OPS+. His heroics for the Miracle Mets helped him earn election to both the New York and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame after his playing days came to an end. Also of note: Shamsky was the manager for the Modi'in Miracle during the one and only season of the Israel Baseball League.
  • Brent Strom, the Mets' first round selection in the June 1970 draft, is 64. The lefty made his debut two years later, going 0-3 in five starts. Team brass must have been unimpressed, as they traded him to Cleveland in the offseason, though an elbow injury may have been to blame for Strom's less-than stellar numbers. According to a 2009 interview with Baseball Prospectus, Tommy John revealed Strom was the second player to undergo John's titular surgery.

Game of Note
On October 14, 1986, the Mets and Astros matched up for Game Five of the NLCS, a.k.a. the other extra-inning nail-biter of the best of seven series. Nolan Ryan got the start for the 'Stros and the 39-year old pitched like a man half his age, which, incidentally, is pretty much what Mets starter Dwight Gooden was. The elder ace tossed nine innings of one-run ball, striking out a dozen. Dr. K wasn't as prolific with the whiffs, though he went one frame deeper than Ryan. Relievers Charlie Kerfeld and Jesse Orosco kept things knotted 1-1 for their respective teams until the bottom of the 12th when Gary Carter walked the Mets off with an RBI single. Final score: Mets 2, Astros 1.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today marks the 122nd birthday of American hero Dwight D. Eisenhower. While most Mets fans like Ike Davis, the first baseman's approval ratings would certainly be higher if, instead of Isaac, his full first name were General Eisenhower Davis.

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