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Tommie Terrific

This is a vent that I've been wanting to get off my chest for a little while now, but never really had the appropriate forum to present it. I take the Mets Hall of Fame pretty seriously (almost as seriously as the Baseball Hall of Fame) and it appears that, for the third straight season, there is going to be no inductee.

I have a slight quibble with the Mets last Hall of Fame inductee, centerfielder Tommie Agee. My problem isn't with his selection but rather the manner in which he was selected.

The Mets have had their own Hall of Fame since 1981, when it inaugurated original owner Joan Payson and original manager Casey Stengel. Since then, a voting panel, which I believe is comprised of team officials and longtime media members has voted in 19 other members. Here's the full list of inductees.

1981- Joan Payson & Casey Stengel
1982- Gil Hodges & George Weiss
1983- Bill Shea & Johnny Murphy
1984- Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy & Ralph Kiner
1986- Bud Harrelson & Rusty Staub
1988- Tom Seaver
1989- Jerry Koosman
1990- Ed Kranepool
1991- Cleon Jones
1992- Jerry Grote
1993- Tug McGraw
1996- Mookie Wilson
1997- Keith Hernandez
2001- Gary Carter
2002- Tommie Agee

The gaps in inductions are explained simply in the Media Guide with the words "No selection" by each year without an inductee. Here's my issue with Agee's induction. If he was such a worthy candidate for the Mets Hall of Fame, how come he wasn't voted in when he was alive? Agee wasn't inducted until after he died in January, 2001. He is the only person alive at the time at which the Hall began, who wasn't inducted until after he was deceased.

In each year from 1988 to 1993, the Mets put a member of the 1969 team into the Hall of Fame. Now I understand the idea of giving each Hall of Famer his own day, but why couldn't Agee have gone in with fellow Alabaman, Cleon Jones? It would have been appropriate for those two to be inducted together because of the geographic and positional link. I'm guessing that the strike in 1994 halted any possibility of an induction that season, but did the voting committee forget Agee in 1998, 1999 and 2000, when it didn't elect anyone?

I'm not looking to embarass any of the voting members of the Mets Hall of Fame here. I'm looking to make a point that seemed rather topical in view of Sunday's inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the news about Rafael Palmeiro on Monday. If the feeling is that Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson and Lenny Dykstra belong in the Mets Hall of Fame, perhaps a move should be made to induct them sooner, rather than later (any such "waiting period" has passed, in my mind). This year or next would be a particularly good time to vote on Strawberry, while the going's good for the former slugger, who has made several public appearances for the team this season. There was a rumor of such a move earlier this season, but I have not heard anything of it recently, and there is no Hall of Fame Day on the club's schedule (though if memory serves, one listed on the 2004 sked never occurred) .

As for Agee, it is understood that he's in the Mets Hall of Fame more for legendary individual performances, like the home run and two magnificent catches in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, than for compiled statistics (a .262 batting average, 82 home runs, 92 SB, and a Gold Glove playing for the Flushing 9 from 1968-72. He doesn't rank in the Mets career Top 10 in any stat) and that's fair.

Agee had a flare for the dramatic or majestic individual moment, as much as Strawberry or Mike Piazza did. A circle in Shea's upper deck commemorates his landmark home run (the only player to reach that level). In 1969, he won multiple games by himself, like against the Cubs on September 8, when he homered to drive in the Mets first two runs, than scored the run that put the Mets ahead for good in the sixth inning, with a hook slide around catcher Randy Hundley in a pivotal 3-2 win.

Agee had a walk-off hit in four of his five seasons with the Mets, and in the other, he scored the walk-off run on a daring steal of home. His walk-off moment from the 1969 season is pretty well documented, if you have any of the fine books about that season, or Howard Blatt's "Amazin' Met Memories," so I won't get super-specific about this recollection.

A few weeks prior to that Cubs game, on August 19, the Mets and Giants got involved in one of the great pitching duels in Mets history. Future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal's scoreless run was matched by the combination of Gary Gentry (10 innings) and Tug McGraw (4 innings), aided by a great catch by Cleon Jones to rob Willie McCovey of a home run. Agee finally ended things by homering to left-center field with one out in the 14th. It was moments like this that made Agee Hall-worthy.

True Metgees know...The Mets had 11 walk-off wins in 1969 (including the postseason), and Mets Hall of Famers Agee, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote, and Ed Kranepool had the winning RBI in seven of those games.

For another unique perspective on the Mets greatness, I suggest viewing the "Mets Hall of Heroes."

Comments

Now that Franco is retired, you gotta figure he's a lock, and soon. And I agree about Darryl. You can't overlook his years of achievement. I think Davey Johnson has earned his spot in the Mets hall as well.

Good article!
Tad Richards said…
Ron Swoboda?

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