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Joltin' Joe

It is a reminder at this time of the baseball season, when wheeling and dealing is a prominent subject matter, that it's just as easy to make a bad trade as it is to make a good one.

The Mets didn't face any sort of major deadline after the 1969 World Series, but they felt confident enough in the play of Tommie Agee, who shined throughout 1969, especially in the postseason, that they had room to maneuver to better themselves by trading a talented young outfield prospect, who had a brief, unimpressive audition at third base, Amos Otis.

In December, general manager Johnny Murphy decided to pull the trigger on a deal sending Otis and minor league pitcher Bob Johnson to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Joe Foy. This seemed like a logical way to fill what had been the Mets most glaring weakness in their brief history, the play of those stationed at the hot corner. Foy was a New York City native who was very happy to be coming home, had been a regular for the 1967 AL champion Red Sox, had a strong arm, good speed and was able to work his way on base. He wasn't a particularly strong hitter for a guy who was 6-foot, 215 pounds, but it was felt that he was an exciting talent with room to improve. This trade was a big deal, similar in nature to how the Mets traded Kevin Mitchell in a package for Kevin McReynolds after winning the World Series in 1986. The thought was that the Mets were solidifying themselves for an even better season in 1970 than they had in 1969.

What looked like a good trade turned into, what "This Date in New York Mets History" called "a disaster." Foy's season started with a 2-for-22 skid, ended with an 0-for-10 slump, and had few highlights in between other than a 5-for-5, two homer game against the Giants. Foy's speed came into play a bit (22 steals in 99 games), but you know it's a tough season for a guy when the best thing you can say about him is that he drew a lot of walks (68 in 322 at-bats to give him an on-base percentage of .373). Meanwhile, Otis had the first of a decade's worth of outstanding seasons for Kansas City, setting the standard for those such as Carlos Beltran to follow.

It was Foy's walk-drawing ability that led to his Mets walk-off moment. In the opener of a rainy doubleheader with the Reds, on August 23, 1970, the Mets trailed Cincinnati, 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Two singles and an error on a bunt brought home one run, and Art Shamsky's one-out single tied the game. With runners on the corners and one out, pitcher Wayne Granger walked Wayne Garrett to set up the force anywhere. The strategy worked when Ron Swoboda struck out, but then failed when Granger missed with four straight pitches to Foy, bringing home the winning run.

Foy had what "This Date" termed "personal problems" that turned out to be issues with substance abuse. The Mets didn't have much patience with Foy, so little in fact, that they exposed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He was selected by the Washington Senators, but lasted only a year there before his career was done.

The Joe Foy story has multiple sad endings. Murphy, the general manager who dealt for him, died of a heart attack a little more than a month after making the deal. Foy was able to turn his life around and eventually became a youth counselor and baseball coach, but he too died of a heart attack at age 46 in 1989. The Boston Globe ran a nice obituary referencing his friendships with Red Sox teammates Mike Andrews and Carl Yastrzemski both of whom said he was a great teammate and a great person, but that's something the Mets didn't see enough.

The Truly Meticulous know...Joe Foy had the shortest last name (3 letters) of any Mets player with a walk-off RBI.


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