Teammates mourn loss of former Mets Agee

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Former New York Mets star Tommie Agee was stricken by a massive heart attack last week outside of a Manhattan office building and died hours later at Bellevue Hospital. The East Elmhurst resident was 58.

A native of Mobil, Ala., Agee is best remembered as one of the key players of the “Miracle Mets” of 1969, the year the team won its first World Series championship. His sudden death shocked the baseball community and those with the Mets who knew him best.

“It was a shock for all of us,” said former teammate Ed Kranepool. “Tommie and I maintained a close relationship since our playing days. He was a conscientious person who did so much for kids in the city. He was a great teammate and friend.”

Kranepool and 1969 Mets teammates Tug McGraw, Ed Charles, Art Shamsky, Bud Harrelson and Donn Clendenon served as pallbearers during a memorial service held Friday in Mount Vernon. Agee’s body was returned to Alabama for a funeral service Saturday at Friendship Primitive Baptist Church in Pritchard.

Agee worked for Stewart Title Insurance Co. and lived on Butler Street in East Elmhurst for the past 10 years. He is survived by his wife Maxine and daughter Janelle.

“Tommie Agee was indeed one of the all-time great Mets,” said Mets Chairman of the Board Nelson Doubleday. “His spirit and soul will be sorely missed.”

Agee, who played 12 years in the majors with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Mets, was an key member of the 1969 championship team, most notably for his performance in Game 3.

The centerfielder homered to lead off the game and later made two outstanding catches that saved as many as five funs. The first, in the fourth inning, was a running snow-cone catch off the bat of Elrod Hendricks with two outs and runners at the corners before crashing, but holding on. His second catch came three innings later, when he dove to snare Paul Blair’s liner to right-centerfield with the bases loaded and two out.

The Mets went on to win the game 5-0 and eventually took the series in five games.

Agee’s career in the majors began in the 1966 — after coming up with the Cleveland Indians — with the White Sox, smacking 22 home runs with 68 RBIs and 44 stolen bases, good enough to garner American League Rookie of the Year honors.

He came to the Mets in 1968 under manager Gil Hodges. The following year Agee led the Mets with 26 home runs and 76 RBIs and had an even better year in 1970, when he scored 107 runs, hit .286 and had 75 RBIs.

He was traded to Houston following the 1972 season.

“We are very saddened at the untimely death of one of the greatest Mets ballplayers, Tommie Agee,” said Mets President Fred Wilpon. “Tommie was not only a star on the field, but a star and gentleman off the field.”

“I have very strong feelings about Tommie,” said former teammate Ron Swoboda. “I played in his golf tournament in Mobil, Ala. and whenever I came into the city, I made sure we spent some time together. He was a great friend and the way he conducted himself after his playing days were over was admirable. He’s gone way too soon.”

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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