This Date in Mets History: November 21 – Agee Turns Leather Into Gold

Sure-handed Tommie is the center (fielder) of attention today.

On this date in 1970, Tommie Agee became the first player in New York Mets history to win a Gold Glove. It’s a victory of keen observation and common sense over the statistical standards of that era. Agee had committed a career-high 13 errors, but this aberration is attributable in large measure to what today’s sabermetricians recognize as range factor (RF). This simply means that, as those of us who watched as many games as possible that year can attest, Agee was occasionally charged with an error on a ball most other outfielders wouldn’t have gotten close enough to touch.

Agee’s RF was considerably higher than the league average among center fielders, as opposed to fellow ’70 Gold Glovers Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente and Pete Rose, who made a lot fewer errors but whose RFs, respectively, were around or slightly under league average for their position (right field). By another sabermetric measurement known as RngR (range runs), his defense made a difference of a league-best 13 runs.

For Tommie Agee, this was his second Gold Glove, making him the first player to win one in both leagues. He earned the first as a rookie with Cleveland in 1966, catching the eye of Washington Senators manager Gil Hodges. Hodges’ first act as new Mets skipper in December 1967 was to lobby successfully to bring Agee to Shea.

Birthdays

Tom McCraw, 72 years young today, was a good enough hitting coach to survive five seasons (1992-’96) dealing with some of the most uncoachable hitters and flat-out head cases in Mets history, including Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Kent, Ryan Thompson, and Carl Everett.

Bill Almon, who celebrates the big six-oh today, was a good-fielding, light-hitting utility player for the 1980 and 1987 Mets. His .339 OBP during that second tour of duty was actually higher than that of four regulars (McReynolds, Backman, Santana, and Carter).

Happy half-century to Dick Schofield, the first of several stopgap shortstops between the oft-injured Kevin Elster and talented-but-troubled Rey Ordonez. Schofield played splendid defense in 141 games with the 1992 Mets, but couldn’t hit a lick. His father and namesake, then playing for Pittsburgh, scored the only run off Jay Hook in the Mets’ very first victory, April 23, 1962.

Dan Murray is 39. His pitching line on Aug. 9, 1999, his only game as a Met, was 2 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB. Apparently this impressed the Kansas City Royals enough to give up Glendon Rusch, who would have a solid year for the pennant-bound 2000 Mets, in exchange for Murray’s services.

Transactions

On November 21, 1977, the New York Mets belatedly and almost laughably entered the free agent era with the signing of moderately talented Brewers right-hander Tom Hausman. The following day, the Yankees signed future Hall-of-Famer Goose Gossage.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection

On November 21, 1966, Colgems Records released the Monkees’ second single, "I’m a Believer." In 2008, Mets fans voted to install this song as the team’s eight inning music, replacing 2007’s "Sweet Caroline." The former, written and sung by Neil Diamond, never made much sense as a ballpark sing-along, and worse, the idea to use it was borrowed from the Boston Red Sox. "I’m a Believer" (also written by Diamond, coincidentally) was a more appropriate choice because it evokes the late Tug McGraw’s 1973 rallying cry, "Ya Gotta Believe."

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