This Date In Mets History: April 10—Tommie Agee reaches the upper deck

Flickr user wallyg

Mammoth home run keys turn-around season for the Amazins’ center fielder.

In the second inning of a game against the fledgling Montreal Expos on April 10, 1969, Tommie Agee hit a home run into the upper deck in left field at Shea Stadium. It would remain the longest home run to reach the seats in the ballpark’s 46-year history. Later in the game the Mets center fielder hit a second, more conventional, home run as the Mets won 4–2.

That game was especially gratifying for Agee, who began his Mets career by getting beaned with a Bob Gibson pitch in spring training the year before and suffered through a miserable 1968 season, compiling a slash line of .217/.255/.307 with only five home runs and 17 RBI. In 1969 he became the catalyst for the Miracle Mets’ drive to the World Championship, improving to .271/.342./.464 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs, and an offensive WAR of 3.8 compared to –0.2 in 1968.

For three-plus decades the spot where Agee’s mammoth blast landed was marked with a plaque that was removed and sold to a collector when Shea was demolished after the 2008 season.

Birthdays
In back-to-back seasons at AAA Tidewater, Leroy Stanton, turning 67 today, hit a total of 42 home runs and drove in 195 runs to go with his .876 OPS. That caught the attention of the California Angels, who insisted on Stanton’s inclusion in the trade that would bring Jim Fregosi to Shea in 1972. Some guy named Ryan was also thrown into that deal.

Right-handed reliever Phil Hennigan is also 67 today. With the possible exception of Jim McAndrew, Hennigan did the most damage to ensure the 1973 Mets would set a record for the lowest winning percentage ever for a pennant-winning ball club. In addition to four well-deserved losses on his personal ledger, he surrendered crooked numbers in four other Mets losing efforts to put otherwise close games out of reach for the Amazins.

Happy 83rd birthday to right-hander Frank Lary, who pitched for the Mets in parts of the 1964 and 1965 seasons. There was some speculation that he had been acquired, in part, to go up against the Yankees in the annual Mayor’s Trophy Game, having compiled a career record of 28–13 against the Bronx Bombers. If so, the evidence is inconclusive. He missed out on the ’64 contest due to a postponement by rain and only threw a single inning in the ’65 game.

Transactions On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson, for whom the entrance rotunda at Citi Field is named and dedicated, became the first black player of the 20th century to sign a major league contract. With that historic signing, Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers President and GM Branch Rickey forever changed the face of major league baseball for the better.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Actress Liz Sheridan celebrates her 84th birthday today. Sheridan is perhaps best known as the TV mom of Mets super-fan Jerry Seinfeld. She also played next-door neighbor Rachel Ochmonek on TV’s “ALF,” which debuted five days after the Mets clinched the NL East title in 1986. That series’ animatronic title character was featured in an NBC promo for the Mets-Red Sox World Series and later appeared in a commercial for a now-defunct discount telephone service with Mets catcher Mike Piazza.

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