Category Archives: Custom New York Mets Jerseys

Blake Taylor Jersey

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The New York Mets made a handful of roster moves on Monday afternoon, as per a team announcement.

In addition to officially extending a $17.8 million qualifying offer to right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Mets also added left-hander Blake Taylor to the 40-man roster ahead of the 5 PM ET deadline to either do so or let the player leave via free agency, and claimed left-hander Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

Taylor, 24, was the player to be named later in the 2014 trade that sent Ike Davis to Pittsburgh for Zack Thornton. Over 40 appearances (66.2 innings) between Advanced-A St. Lucie, Double-A Binghamton, and Triple-A Syracuse last season, the southpaw pitched to a 2.16 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 24 walks.

The Dana Point, California product allowed just two earned runs over seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League this season, striking out 11 and walking two while being named to the league’s All-Star team.

Gonsalves, 25, was the highest-ranked pitching prospect in the Twins’ organization and the ninth-ranked left-hander in the minor leagues as recently as January 2018, via MLB Pipeline.

He pitched to a 2.76 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 60 walks over 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester in 2018 before making his MLB debut in August of that year (6.57 ERA,16 strikeouts, 22 walks over seven appearances; four starts).

Gonsalves dealt with a stress reaction in his left elbow/forearm early in the 2019 season but returned to action in late-August (4.15 ERA over eight appearances; six starts).

We’ll keep you posted with more information as it becomes available.

Justin Wilson Jersey

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A man who made his fortune from his twin talents for cooking and comedy, Justin Wilson rose to fame with his humorous stories of life in Louisiana’s Cajun country, as well as demonstrating how to cook the hearty dishes associated with Cajun culture. Wilson was born in Roseland, Louisiana on April 24, 1914. His father, Harry D. Wilson, was Louisiana’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry from 1916 to 1948, and was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. Justin’s mother, Olivette Mintern Toadvin, was a pianist and composer who was also an expert cook, from whom Justin learned his way around a kitchen. Olivette was also of Cajun heritage, unlike her husband who was Welsh, and Justin would often refer to himself as a “half-bleed Cajun.”

Justin originally pursued a career as a safety engineer, and when he spoke to audiences about safety procedures, he discovered many listeners found him too dry. Having frequently traveled through Bayou country, Wilson began telling humorous anecdotes about Cajuns and their lifestyle to put himself and his audiences at ease. In time, Wilson was attracting larger audiences for his comedy than for his safety lectures, and he became a successful humorist in the South and Southwest with his exaggerated Cajun accent and familiar catch phrase, “I Gawr-on-tee!” While some criticized Wilson for his sometimes unflattering portrait of Cajun life — author Trent Angers wrote of Wilson, “To hear him you’d think all Cajuns are barely literate and not very bright” — others cited him as helping to spread the word about Cajun food and heritage when they were little known outside the South.

In 1960, Wilson released his first comedy album, The Humorous World of Justin Wilson, which was issued by Ember Records and promptly reissued in 1961 by Tower Records, a subsidiary of Capitol Records. Between 1961 and 1985, Wilson would release 28 comedy albums, including ten for Tower, and another ten for the Louisiana-based label Paula Records. Wilson also received nationwide exposure with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Squares, and Late Night with David Letterman.

In 1965, Wilson published his first cookbook, fittingly titled The Justin Wilson Cook Book, and he would publish six more cookbooks between 1979 and 1998. Wilson first took his epicurean skills to the airwaves in 1971, with a cooking show commissioned by Mississippi Educational Television in which he told jokes while demonstrating how to prepare Cajun specialties. Wilson gained a new audience in the 1980s when another series, Louisiana Cookin’, began airing nationwide on PBS. In the ’90s, his shows from the ’70s gained a new life when they were rebroadcast coast to coast under the title Justin Wilson: Looking Back, sometimes with new segments offering healthier options for some ingredients. On September 5, 2001, Wilson died in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the age of 87.

Tomas Nido Jersey

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Coming into the 2019 season one of the biggest questions for the Mets was at the catcher position. There were lots of options, most of them tried and mediocre. The plan of staying with d’Arnaud and Plawecki one more time seemed unappealing at best.
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There were several free agent catchers available at various price points. The top option was Yasmani Grandal and the Mets offered him a reasonable contract which he rejected for a higher one year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The next best option was Wilson Ramos, an injury prone offense-first catcher coming off a career year with the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets offered Ramos a two-year contract for $19 million assuming the Mets buy out his option for 2021.

As we know Ramos has had a below average (for him) offensive year measured by OPS+ (95) compared to his career OPS+ of 103. Still good for a catcher but with his defensive shortcomings not great especially for a team that relies on a sometimes dominant starting rotation to play its best.

The Mets traded Plawecki for Walker Lockett and tendered d’Arnaud a contract. Many people (including me) expected him to be jettisoned due to his slow recovery from Tommy John surgery and his general offensive unreliability. That money could have been better used in any number of ways.

In Spring Training the Mets had Ramos penciled in as the starting catcher with a competition for the backup spot between Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco.

Through a series of semi-predictable happenings and Metsian decision-making d’Arnaud “won” the job, Mesoraco decided to go on strike (framing at its finest), and somehow Tomas Nido ended up as the backup catcher to open the season until d’Arnaud was d’ArYes.

d’Arnaud was sent on a rehab assignment on April 4 and activated on April 7 with Nido being sent down to Syracuse. On April 28 the Mets DFA’d d’Arnaud and recalled Nido.

Nido has been the backup since that day starting 25 games at catcher.

Tomas Nido is a better defensive catcher than Wilson Ramos. We all know this. How much better though?

Check out this list from Baseball Prospectus ranking catchers by FRAA_ADJ. Please see this explanation for those of you who are not familiar with this overall catching statistic.

And this for Blocking Runs.

And this one for Framing Runs.

And this one for Throwing Runs.

Switching to Baseball-Reference, Ramos costs the Mets -11 Rdrs/yr while Nido saves 10 Rdrs/yr. Using a statistic like that eliminates the effect of Ramos catching more innings. That difference of 21 runs is worth 2-3 extra wins according to various theories of the relationship between runs and wins.

This nifty chart from Fangraphs gives a clear (i.e. non-technical) idea of the defensive quality of Ramos and Nido.

Not to mention that both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard prefer throwing to Nido even though his offense is below average (OPS+ 70).

Pete Alonso Jersey

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Are we that easy? If the records are rigged why take them seriously?

Perhaps the only reason to watch Saturday’s Braves-Mets game on Fox was to see if Pete Alonso would break the rookie record with his 53rd home run. Fox had the exclusive rights to do whatever it pleased with the game.

So when Alonso hit No. 53, Fox already had chosen to divide our attention by having Braves pitcher Dallas Keuchel on a dugout microphone and camera in another indiscriminate look-what-we-can-do.

But anything worth doing now seems to be worth overdoing — until it carries the odor of on-orders rot.

We don’t get it. Why would we?

Additionally, how can we objectively reconcile Alonso’s 53 home runs as legit when they were hit throughout a season during which MLB so obviously had baseball played with balls treated and inoculated by aerospace engineers or Titleist?

Often this season, Mets telecasts contained the well-aimed sarcastic skepticism of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez decrying the new, long-range baseballs as ruinous farce that has badly diminished home runs as special achievement.
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Pete Alonso completely enjoyed this moment

They knew that we knew that we were being suckered in what quickly was recognized as MLB again not realizing that it was master of its own greed-enriched, foresight-free folly.

Yet every time the SNY crew witnessed Alonso hit a homer, they trumpeted their excitement at his extraordinary and eventually unprecedented long-ball achievements.

So from a season swollen with smashed home run and strikeout records, which was it: legit or artificial? After all, one-third of Alonso’s 156 hits were HRs, while he struck out 184 times.

This postseason already wears the scars of a regular season that further replaced practical, well-schooled baseball with home run or strikeout two-card poker.

Wednesday, through six innings against the Athletics, the Rays had six hits, four of them home runs by the scarcely known, but had struck out nine times. The 5-1 game produced 24 strikeouts against 10 mostly scarcely known pitchers.

For MLB to return to baseballs with which to play genuine baseball would be an admission that this season’s version was fixed and that, again, smashed records were achieved by bogus means — juiced balls instead of juiced players. Whatever it took to reprise the cash flow of the anabolic slugger era.

Meanwhile, latter-day delusional managing persists. Last season, the Brewers in large part lost the NLCS to the Dodgers because of Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell’s insistence on replacing effective relievers to find the one who would be crushed.

Tuesday, in the wild-card game versus the Nationals, the Brewers lost a late 3-1 lead — and the game — because Counsell did it again.

Yet he only did what most managers now do — manage too much, as if all relievers will be in top form every game and in consecutive, designated innings.

There’s plenty more where those came from — the postseason has only begun.
Missing the target with pointless overexplaining

We’d seen the play hundreds of times — a long, slightly underthrown, incomplete sideline pass. Self-evident, no explanation needed.

These days? Fat chance. Thus Saturday on Fox, that pass thrown by Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts toward wide receiver Charleston Rambo against Texas Tech was followed by analyst Joel Klatt’s overview of the underthrow:
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Joel KlattJoel KlattGetty Images

“That’s the freedom, I think, of, you know, going out there to try to make plays. Here, he doesn’t quite lead Rambo far enough and it allows [defensive back] Demarcus Fields, 23, to get back into the play, because when Rambo initially took off on account of the scramble rules … the scramble rules are this:

“If you’re a wide receiver and the quarterback breaks the pocket toward you, turn and run deep, straight down the field.

“That’s what Rambo did and he was initially wide open, Gus [Johnson], but Hurts didn’t get enough on that ball. Rambo had to slow up, upfield, to knock it away.”

Not only did Klatt needlessly confuse the issue, his take wasn’t worth even one of the 100-plus words he applied to it.

But that’s how it’s now done, no one in charge to demand, suggest or know better. And so we sit and holler, “Shut up, already!”

Saturday, at halftime of USC-Washington, Fox sat five experts on its quick-hits and highlights studio show, thus ensuring not one of the five could be distinguished as worth hearing. Expensive, worthless, ridiculous and now standard.

Booger McFarland, before ESPN decided to jam him into that beyond absurd one-man sideline trolley during “Monday Night Football,” wasn’t half bad as an ESPN studio analyst. And though ESPN made him an easy, large and slowly moving target last season, he’s not bad as Jason Witten’s inside-the-booth replacement. He’s certainly an improvement on hired-on-a-wish Witten.

McFarland must work on making short stories short, get in and out before he becomes his own echo, but he often demonstrates the strength of CBS’ Gary Danielson in that, prior to snaps, he recognizes then applies the circumstances to wisely suggest where the play will be headed.

Besides, given what ESPN did to him last season, he deserves a mulligan.

By the way, the Booger McFarland Name Of The Week is awarded to Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool. Yes, his real name is Bumper James Morris Pool. No relation to Parcheesi Board or Grand Theft Otto.
Personal foul for needless bad rule

The NFL makes more rules than sense. Sunday, the Patriots were up 16-10 in the fourth quarter when Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen was knocked senseless and out the rest of the game by a vicious, top-speed helmet to the head from defensive back Jonathan Jones. As CBS’ Dan Fouts noted, Jones made no attempt to tackle Allen.

But the personal foul against Jones was wiped out by a holding call versus the Bills, thus the inexcusably brutal hit that eliminated Allen from the game never happened as a result of “offsetting penalties,” as if they were equal, a wash.
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Chris AshChris AshGetty Images

How much is the co-pay to treat Big Ten Fever? As of last week, Rutgers owes Chris Ash $8 million — much of it taxpayer and student tuition money — to no longer coach its chronically bad football team.

As Alice Kramden said when her husband told her that his election as Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler comes with free burial in the Raccoon Lodge Cemetery in Bismarck, North Dakota, “I’m so excited, Ralph, I don’t know whether to live or die.”

By the way, at 45-0 on Saturday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh instructed his backup QB to throw a long fourth-quarter pass into the end zone to make it 52-0 over Rutgers. On BTN, Kevin Kugler and Matt Millen whistled past it.

Luis Guillorme Jersey

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After an offseason in which the Mets added several veteran middle infielders on minor league contracts to their Triple-A roster, it was unclear if there would be any room for Luis Guillorme at the big league level in 2019. Guillorme entered spring training coming off of a 2018 season in which he performed well with Triple-A Las Vegas – posting a 114 wRC+ with a batting line of .304/.380/.417 in 281 plate appearances in the Pacific Coast League – and earned a promotion to the big leagues to make his big league debut in the middle of May. He spent the rest of the season bouncing back and forth between Triple-A Las Vegas and the big league club, serving as an emergency fill-in around the infield and covering for various injuries. He ended up logging 74 plate appearances across 35 games for the Mets in 2018, and generally looked over-matched offensively against big league pitching, posting just a 52 wRC+ with a paltry .209/.284/.239 batting line. While he struggled mightily with the bat during his first taste of big league action, Guillorme played characteristically good defense across the infield, although he did not play a single inning at shortstop out of deference to Amed Rosario.

As a result of his early struggles, the Mets opted to add several veteran middle infielders on minor league contracts to their organization. The team brought former Met farmhand Dilson Herrera, old friend Ruben Tejada, Danny Espinosa, and Adeiny Hechavarria into the organization to serve as infield depth and to compete with Guillorme for a utility role on the back end of the active roster. If Luis Guillorme was going to spend significant time in the big leagues in 2019, he was going to have to beat out these veterans and earn his place on the field with his play with the Triple-A Syracuse Mets first.

For the most part, Guillorme did just that, spending a good portion of the season with the big league club, and performing significantly better at both the minor and major league levels than he did during the 2018 season. Spring training injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie cleared a spot for Guillorme to break camp with the team on the active roster to start the season. Guillorme received sporadic playing time throughout the season’s first few weeks, and spent the majority of the first half of the season bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues, much like he had in 2018. Guillorme generally struggled offensively with the big league club during his sparse chances to play during the first half, posting a -10 wRC+ with a batting line of .182/.143/.325 in 22 plate appearances scattered across 14 games. He ended up being optioned back to Syracuse on April 26, and spent the majority of the rest of the first half, with the exception of a few small stints with the big league team, in the minor leagues.

While he struggled to get going offensively at the major league level, Guillorme thrived on both sides of the ball with Triple-A Syracuse this season. Guillorme appeared in 69 games and hit .307/.412/.452 with a 128 wRC+ in 278 plate appearances for the Syracuse Mets between stints with the big league club in 2019. Perhaps most encouragingly, Guillorme hit a career high seven home runs in Triple-A while walking almost as often as he struck out. Guillorme’s characteristically superb defense carried over to the International League, despite logging time all over the infield.

In total, Guillorme hit .300 or better for the second straight season in Triple-A, while also getting on base more and hitting for more power than he did in his first season at the Triple-A level.

Guillorme’s performance in Triple-A put him in line for a return to the big league club in early August, when Robinson Cano was placed on the injured list with a torn hamstring. The Mets signed Joe Panik later in the week, and designated Adeiny Hechavarria for assignment, which created a more lasting role for Guillorme on the big league roster as the team’s only bench player capable of playing shortstop. While his playing time remained sporadic, Guillorme’s return to the big leagues went significantly better than his earlier stints had gone. Guillorme hit .282/.378/.462 with a 127 wRC+ in 47 plate appearances from his return to the big leagues on August 5 through the end of the season, and contributed with a few timely hits to help the Mets win during their blistering August.

Among these hits was Guillorme’s first major league home run, which came at the perfect time. On August 10, Guillorme came in to pinch hit for Juan Lagares against Fernando Rodney with the Mets trailing the Nationals 3-2. Guillorme worked the count full against Rodney, before pulling a fastball on the inner half over the right field fence to tie the game. The Mets went on to take the lead later in the inning, and defeated the Nationals 4-3, putting them just a half game behind the Nats for a wild card spot.

Guillorme continued to perform when called upon down the stretch, and ended up posting an 87 wRC+ with a batting line of .246/.324/.361 in 70 plate appearances across 45 games at the big league level in 2019. While he was still a below average hitter, he managed to improve significantly upon his similarly small-sample offensive performance from 2018. In addition to improving his batting average and on-base percentage by nearly 40 points, Guillorme managed to add some power to his game, adding four doubles to go with the first homer of his career, and helping him improve his isolated slugging percentage to .115 from the anemic .030 ISO he put up in 2018.

All of this bodes well for Guillorme’s big league prospects heading into 2020 and beyond. Given his defensive acumen across the infield, and ability to play an above-average shortstop at the big league level, Guillorme doesn’t have to hit much to have a long career as a utility infielder on the periphery of a team’s 25 man roster. If he can maintain his offensive gains from 2019 into the future, and continue to hit within shouting distance of a league average batting line, Guillorme should continue to prove that he belongs in the big leagues moving forward, just like he did in 2019.

Sam Haggerty Jersey

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On September 1, MLB rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players. The New York Mets took advantage of this by promotion a few men and activating others from the IL. One of the less expected transactions included the big league promotion for Sam Haggerty.

The 25-year-old utility man played all over the field this year down on the farm. He also spent time with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and Syracuse Mets. He hit at each level. Maybe more importantly for his promotion, Haggerty found ways to get on base.

The majority of his season was spent in Double-A with the Rumble Ponies where he hit .259 but impressed with a .370 OBP. Haggerty also managed to swipe 19 bases in 68 games played.
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A light-hitter, Haggerty has played second base more than anywhere during his professional career.

However, this year he also saw his share of time in center fielder where he could undoubtedly be far more valuable to the Mets when considering how many other second base options they do have.

Haggerty is one of two players the Mets acquired this winter in the Kevin Plawecki trade with the Cleveland Indians. The other, Walker Lockett, has already taken the mound several times for New York. The results haven’t been too favorable, but there is a chance he becomes a decent relief arm. Unlike many others we’ve seen toe the rubber for the Mets in recent seasons, Lockett is at least youngish.

Expectations for Haggerty shouldn’t get too high. He is, after all, a former 24th round draft pick who was one of two players traded for a career backup catcher with below-average offensive and defensive traits. For him to reach this big leagues at all is a victory.

Interestingly, one of the guys many suspected we would see the Mets promote has opted out of his deal with the team. Dilson Herrera chose to opt-out from his deal with the team for the second time this season. I understand why. Even after hitting 24 home runs this year in Triple-A, the club never called him up.

Haggerty can undoubtedly provide the Mets with a few things they’re missing. He’s a center field option who can run. Playing time will be scarce. This September is his opportunity to make the most of any pinch-running opportunities or defensive replacement substitutions he may be involved in.

As Moonlight Graham or the Mets’ Joe Hietpas know, you may only get a single inning of action.

Amed Rosario Jersey

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Amed Rosario has shown some good signs in his short major league career for the New York Mets. In his two and a half years playing he has shown great speed, decent power, the ability to hit for average, and a solid glove at times.

This past season was Rosario’s best to date in his parts of three seasons. He had career highs in just about every positive offense category, played good defense for most of the season, and took a huge step forward in his overall game.

This past season Rosario had career highs in batting average .287, on-base percentage .323, slugging .432, OPS .755, home-runs with 15, RBI with 72, walks with 31, doubles with 30, hits with 177, and games played with 157. This was all also at the young age of twenty-three years old. In addition to his strong season, he also had strong finishes in both this year’s season and in 2018 which is great to see.
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Arguably Rosario’s biggest step forward this season was in his defense though. He has been very inconsistent in the big leagues so far after being talked highly of for his defense in the minor leagues.

The first half of the season this year was a bit of an adventure as Rosario struggled to make routine plays. Talks of moving him to center field were starting to rumble due to his poor defense. By the end of the year, those talks were long gone as Rosario shined brightly the second half with his glove.

The first half of the 2019 season was quite frustrating for Rosario as he had his worst defense stretch in the majors.

From Opening Day through May 7th, Rosario already had ten errors on the season. In about a month and a half, Rosario had already committed more than half of the errors he would have at the end of the year. In a two day span between St Louis and Philadelphia he even had four combined errors. The rest of May to the end of the season Rosario only had seven errors which are not bad by any means.

Rosario will have some competition for the All-Star game at shortstop as some of the best are in the National League. The three players to make it this year were Javier Báez, Paul DeJong, and Trevor Story. It is not unrealistic to see Rosario jump one of these players in 2020 especially with Báez playing a lot of second base and potentially making the team there.

If Rosario can continue his much-improved defense into next season along with another strong offensive year, we can expect him to suit up for the All-Star game. He will have some competition with a few strong shortstops in the National League, but he can definitely squeak in if he gets off to a hot start.

It is not unrealistic for Rosario to get out of the gates hot either considering his strong finish this season on both sides of the game. As long as he builds off his strong year this year he should be able to hang with the best and we will see him in the All-Star game as a result.

Will we see Rosario in the All-Star game in 2020? I believe so.

Dominic Smith Jersey

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They turn up in the most unexpected of places – dusty basements, forgotten archives, garage sales. A previously unknown Charlie Chaplin silent film was bought on eBay in England for £3.20 ($5.80). In rural Canada bulldozers uncovered more than 500 silent film reels during a building project.

A United States Library of Congress report published in 2013 found that 75 per cent of silent feature films made in the US between 1912 and 1929 had been lost. The medium is particularly vulnerable to depletion as nitrate film stock is highly flammable, susceptible to decay and the industry did not make a habit of preserving negatives and prints. Stories have been silently eroded – those of the films themselves, but also those that form our cinematic and cultural history.

Australian American novelist Dominic Smith, 47, read that same report. The startlingly bleak statistic triggered the memory of a note he had scribbled many years earlier about Auguste and Louis Lumiere, the pioneering French brothers who invented the Cinematograph, a film camera and projector, in the twilight of the 19th Century.

Smith enjoys contemporary movies, but silent films had always seemed to him hokey, full of melodrama and slapstick, with the action distractingly accelerated. He wasn’t drawn to the medium – at least at the start – but to the question: what was it like for audiences to experience film for the very first time?

And so we meet Claude Ballard, an 85-year-old committed mushroom forager whose best days are long gone, like the decrepit Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood where we find him living in 1962 at the start of Smith’s wonderful new novel, The Electric Hotel.

Claude was once a star of the silent film industry and is now doomed to die in relative obscurity just like D.W Griffith, the American master moviemaker behind the epic The Birth of a Nation in 1915, and from whom parts of his character are derived. But a PhD student eager to discuss Claude’s first silent feature, his “lost masterpiece”, has the former filmmaker opening his apartment, the decor still stuck in the1930s and revealing suitcases full of his old reels.

The novel follows Claude’s rise from working as a concession agent for the Lumiere brothers, introducing the world (including Australians) to silent film, to his disastrous attempt to create his own cinematic tour de force, the cutting edge but scandalous The Electric Hotel.
The Electric Hotel is Dominic Smith’s fifth novel.

The Electric Hotel is Dominic Smith’s fifth novel.

The title of Claude’s intended triumph is drawn from a real eight-minute silent film – lost and then recovered – by Spanish director Segundo de Chomon. Chomon’s 1908 stop animation film is a humorous story about electricity running amok in a hotel in Spain, while Claude’s creation is a dark melodrama, centered on a consumptive widow, that foreshadows the psychological horror films to emerge in later years.

Claude’s grand ambition is supported by a filmmaking family – the legendary actress and his sometimes lover, Sabine Montrose, producer and moneyman Hal Bender, whose father was murdered by loan sharks, and runaway Australian stuntman Chip Spalding. The foursome form an early studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a precursor to Hollywood. They all come from broken backgrounds and are moths drawn to the illusions created by film.

Inventor Thomas Edison is a menacing figure throughout the novel as he attempts to dominate the industry with patents and eradicate his competition, including Claude, through lawsuits. It’s an epic tale that spans 1895 to 1962, with an electric pace fuelled by Smith’s insight and humour.

“I am interested in the history of narrative storytelling and film is definitely part of that. But there’s a kind of dotted line back to silent films where suddenly it went dark,” Smith says, on the phone from Seattle, where he moved recently after living for nearly two decades in Austin, Texas with his wife and two daughters.

Yoenis Cespedes Jersey

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NEW YORK — Heading into a critical offseason full of roster concerns, the Mets have no idea if Yoenis Céspedes will be physically capable of playing in 2020.

Asked several times Monday about Céspedes’ status, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered different versions of the same answer: “Too early to tell.”

“At this point, Ces is rehabbing,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll obviously evaluate his health and performance as we get closer.”

And again: “We’ll take it day by day. As you guys have heard us talk about injuries in the past, it’s impossible to predict the future. So we’ll wait and see.”

And finally: “To be clear, I do not have enough information to predict when he’s going to be back.”

Céspedes, who has one year and $29.5 million left on the $110 million contract that Van Wagenen helped negotiate, has not played since announcing in July 2018 that he would undergo twin operations to remove bone matter and calcification from each of his heels. The Mets hoped he might join them for the second half of 2019, but Céspedes fractured his right ankle in a “violent fall” at his ranch in Florida early last summer, and he has been rehabbing from that injury, as well as his other surgeries, ever since.

The Mets are recouping at least some portion of Céspedes’ contract via insurance, but they have not reinvested that into player payroll. As such, his status is a concern entering the winter.

“I think you have to be openminded to everything in the offseason,” Van Wagenen said. “We went into last year with a little bit of uncertainty on the same level with Ces, and we’ll continue to make sure we have depth options and have impact players around the diamond.”

Originally coming to New York in a July 2015 trade with the Tigers, Céspedes returned on a three-year deal that winter, then opted out of the final two seasons to negotiate his current four-year deal. Since signing that contract, he has appeared in only 119 games, batting .282/.343/.525 with 26 homers. Céspedes is 34 years old, and on Opening Day, he will be 21 months removed from his last professional at-bat.

The Mets do have a fair amount of outfield depth in-house, with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil all capable of starting. The greater issue is Céspedes’ salary, given its potential to affect the Mets’ offseason pursuits. Asked when he might have a better idea about the onetime star outfielder, Van Wagenen demurred.

“I think it’s still premature,” the GM said. “I don’t have enough information to be able to guess what the future holds.”

Coach in the jackpot?

Terry Collins may or may not become Carlos Beltrán’s bench coach, but he is going to help Beltrán in his new job one way or the other.

“Terry Collins will be one of my mentors,” Beltrán said Monday after his introductory press conference. “I love Terry Collins. Terry Collins has reached out to me in a way where if I need help, I can reach out to him. I don’t know if he wants to get back in the game or not, but the fact that he’s reaching out to me and wants to mentor me in this position, I will take any help available out there.”

Beltrán has already started putting together a list of coaching staff candidates, and he will begin interviewing them next week. The Mets have an opening at bench coach after declining to renew the contract of Jim Riggleman. The statuses of the rest of former manager Mickey Callaway’s coaches are unknown, though team officials have lauded the work of both pitching coach Phil Regan and hitting coach Chili Davis. Both are said to be strong candidates to return.

Collins, 70, managed Beltrán for only half a season, but Beltrán counts the former National League pennant winner among his most significant mentors. That alone makes him a strong candidate for bench coach, particularly considering Beltrán’s lack of managerial and coaching experience.

“He was able to reach out to me in a way that no other manager did,” Beltrán said. “My relationship with Terry Collins is A-plus.”

Money talks

The Mets have the financial ability to add top free agents this winter, Van Wagenen said, though he indicated that one of those players may not be a roster fit.

Asked specifically about third baseman Anthony Rendon, Van Wagenen pointed to in-house solutions Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and Jed Lowrie, who are all capable of playing the position.

“I think we’ve got some depth at that position,” Van Wagenen said. “But as we look to reconfigure and find ways to get better offensively and defensively, we’ll consider a variety of different things. The same goes for the pitching staff.”

In recent offseasons, the Mets have largely avoided the most expensive free agents available. Van Wagenen indicated that money won’t be an object this offseason, despite the fact that pursuing top free agents would likely require the Mets’ payroll to spike. Projected raises to arbitration-eligible players, as well as to those under guaranteed contracts, mean the team’s 2020 payroll may exceed last year’s total before the Mets add a single player.

“We’ll enter the offseason … trying to find the right players for our roster,” the GM said. “We’ll make recommendations to Jeff [Wilpon] and ownership at that point when we find the right player at the right price whether it’s a trade or whether it’s a free-agent signing, and then we’ll present it to ownership and I’m confident we’ll have the support.”

According to Van Wagenen, the Mets’ priorities will be adding to the rotation (with relievers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman both starting pitching candidates), fortifying the bullpen and improving team defense.

More on Fonzie’s switch

Van Wagenen called his decision to demote popular Class A Brooklyn manager Edgardo Alfonzo “a player development decision,” indicating that Alfonzo was not the team’s best option despite winning a New York-Penn League championship in 2019.

“It wasn’t a specific thing,” Van Wagenen said. “Edgardo’s been a good soldier to the organization and will continue to be. … I just want to keep ourselves on the path of putting our players in the best situation.”

Alfonzo, who managed Brooklyn for three seasons, accepted his new role as a team ambassador last month. Van Wagenen declined to say what specifically led to his demotion.

“We’re focused on his community role going forward, not his player development role,” the GM said.

Minor moves

The Mets added two left-handed pitchers to their 40-man roster on Monday, selecting the contract of Blake Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse and claiming Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the Twins. The moves put their roster at 37 players entering the start of free agency.

Taylor, 24, is a former second-round Draft pick who could have become a Minor League free agent had the Mets not added him to their roster. He ended the season at Syracuse after spending most of the year at lower levels of the farm system, producing a 2.16 ERA overall with 74 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

Gonsalves, 25, was the Twins’ 18th-ranked prospect but also could have become a Minor League free agent due to his service time. He missed most of 2019 due to injury, which made him expendable despite his 2.76 ERA over 120 2/3 Minor League innings in 2018. Gonsalves gives the Mets some additional rotation depth heading into the winter.

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Tommie Agee was one of the key components to the 1969 Miracle Mets, solidifying the defense and serving as the club’s chief power source, albeit from the leadoff spot. His on-field heroics during the ’69 season—including socking the only home run to ever reach Shea Stadium’s upper deck—helped propel the Mets to their first postseason berth and an unlikely journey to the World Series. Once there, Agee’s heroics turned to legend. In Game Three of the Fall Classic he hit a leadoff home run and made two Amazin’ catches to ensure a New York victory. He signed a large bonus with Cleveland, was a Rookie of the Year with the White Sox, and spent his last season in Houston and St. Louis, but he will always be remembered as a Met patrolling center field next to his childhood buddy.

Tommie Lee Agee was born August 9, 1942, at Magnolia, Alabama to Carrie and Joseph Agee. He had 10 siblings, nine of them girls. A year after Tommie’s birth, the Agees moved to Mobile, Alabama. His father worked for the Aluminum Company of America and Agee grew up in a low income area that had segregated schools and parks. Being on the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile’s climate lent itself to year round outdoor sporting activities. The locality also had a rich lode for baseball talent, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey hail from the area as did legendary Satchel Paige and Agee’s Mets teammate Amos Otis. But it was another future teammate in New York that Agee would form a bond with in Mobile.

In junior high, Agee met another youngster, Cleon Jones, who became an immediate school yard teammate and close friend. They were born just five days apart (Cleon was older). Although Carrie Agee wanted her son to become a minister, early on Tommie demonstrated gifted athletic abilities and a desire that placed him on course for a sports career.

Though not yet five years old when Jackie Robinson brought an end to the infamous gentlemen’s agreement and opened up major league rosters to men of color, Agee still recalled the excitement it generated. “They had one television set in our part of town and everybody gathered around it one day when Jackie Robinson was playing a game…I knew then that I could be a ballplayer.”

Agee attended the local high school, Mobile County Training School. Started in 1880, the facility was the oldest training school in Alabama and for many years was comprised of grades seven through 12. It was reorganized to a middle school in 1970. Agee was a four-sport star at Mobile County, playing football, basketball, and baseball as well as running track. During summer break the teenager played sandlot baseball. In fact he once shagged flies for another Mobile resident, future Hall of Famer Billy Williams.

“There were quite a few playing fields around,” said Agee’s high school coach, Curtis J. Horton. “The boys had areas in which they could develop….Fields didn’t have to be perfect and smooth. Baseball was played in just about every neighborhood, on every block. If the kids didn’t have regulation bats and balls, they played stickball with rubber balls and broomsticks.”

On the high school diamond, Tommie batted .390 and also pitched. The team recorded only one loss. Unfortunately, Alabama did not have a state baseball championship while Agee was at Mobile County Training School.

On the gridiron, Agee was an end and his friend Cleon Jones, a halfback. MCTS football had a stellar record—only one loss during Tommie’s three years with the squad. He would remember fondly, “We had a play that we called number forty-eight, and it was a halfback option play. The quarterback would hand off to Cleon and he had an option of running or passing to me. During the 1960 season, we made five touchdowns on that play alone.”

Agee went on to Grambling State University on a baseball scholarship, a school better known for other sports: NBA star Willis Reed and NFL cornerback Willie Brown, both of whom eventually reached the Hall of Fame in their sports as professionals, attended Grambling the same time as Agee. Dr. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones who coached the Louisiana school’s baseball team remembered Tommie’s first game. “We worked on cutting down his swing. You know how it is, all these boys think about is home runs….Well, the first time up, he hits a home run over the left-field fence. The next time he hits one over the center-field fence. The third time he hits one over the right-field fence. Then he hits so far into center that he gets an inside-the-park home run.”

Early scouting reports claimed he “lacked coordination” as well as poor fundamentals. In fact, Coach Jones initially placed him at first base. The coach moved him to the middle infield and even had him pitch before finally slotting Agee as an outfielder. Hitting was not an obstacle. During his single season at Grambling, Agee batted .533, then the highest average in the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s history.

After that colossal college season seemingly every pro birddog scout flocked to Agee’s home in Mobile. “I was at his house when he came back after his first year at Grambling,” Cleon Jones said. “There were thirty or forty scouts, all of them trying to talk to him, trying to get him signed. That blew me away, man.”

Agee inked a contract with the Cleveland Indians with a $65,000 bonus in 1961. He spent parts of two season in Iowa, first at Class D Dubuque, where he hit .261 with 15 home runs in 64 games, and then at Class B Burlington, batting .258 with 25 steals in 500 at-bats. He moved up to Class AAA Jacksonville for two games before being called up to Cleveland. His major league debut occurred in road grays, September 14, 1962 before 25,372 at Metropolitan Stadium. In the top of the ninth, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Agee flew out against Minnesota southpaw Dick Stigman in an 11-1 Minnesota rout. Agee batted .214 during that initial cup of coffee in 1962. He bounced back and forth from the farm to the parent club through the 1964 season. His cumulative batting average for Cleveland was just .170 with one home run in 53 at-bats.

On January 20, 1965, the 23-year-old Agee was involved in a three-team swap. Pitcher Tommy John, catcher John Romano, and Agee were sent to the Chicago White Sox; the Kansas City Athletics sent Rocky Colavito to Cleveland; Chicago sent Jim Landis and Mike Hershberger to Kansas City; and Chicago sent Cam Carreon to Cleveland. At a later date Chicago sent Fred Talbot to Kansas City. The White Sox wound up the winners in the complicated transaction, though Agee did not pay immediate dividends.

Agee spent almost all of 1965 at Class AAA Indianapolis, batting .226 with 15 steals. He hit even worse in brief duty with the Pale Hose, batting a paltry .158. Agee finally got his chance in 1966.

Agee was tabbed as Chicago’s starting center fielder on Opening Day and launched a two-run home run in the seventh inning to tie the game. The White Sox went on to win in 14 innings and Agee, who began the season in the seventh spot in the order, quickly moved up in the lineup—first to leadoff, then moving to the two-hole, before settling into the third-spot in the order. He wound up the season batting cleanup.

Agee batted .273 with 22 home runs, 88 RBIs, and scored 98 runs while playing in 160 games. After attempting just one steal in his past trials in the majors, Agee stole 44 bases for the White Sox (he was caught 18 times). He was named the American League Rookie of the Year and finished eighth in the MVP voting to Triple Crown winner Frank Robinson in Baltimore. Agee earned a Gold Glove and was named to the All-Star team.

Agee was an All-Star again in 1967, but he suffered through a sophomore jinx in the latter stages of the season. He managed through the first half with a split of .247/.317/.401—not bad numbers for that pitching-dominated era on a team where no regular wound up hitting higher than .250—but Agee slumped to .218/.282/.329 in the second half. And while he thrived against lefties, batting .306 and putting together an .844 OPS, he made management wonder if he might be a platoon player by hitting just .199 against righties, though he hit 10 of his 14 home runs against them. His slumping was certainly noticeable as the Chi Sox battled until the final week for the pennant with Boston, Detroit, and Minnesota; the club with scarlet socks nabbed the AL flag on the final day.

Also noticing the outfielder was opposing manager Gil Hodges of the Washington Senators. When the New York Mets traded for Hodges after the season, one of the new manager’s first requests was to try to pry Agee from the White Sox. On December 15, 1967, the Mets acquired Agee along with infielder Al Weis. The Mets gave up their best hitter, Tommy Davis, and Jack Fisher, the only Met besides rookie Tom Seaver to make more than 30 starts in 1967. (The Mets also sent Billy Wynne and Buddy Booker to the White Sox in the deal.)

Hodges penciled in Agee as his center fielder, a position where many had tried and failed for the sad-sack Mets to that point. Longtime Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy commented, “The first thing Gil wanted to do was acquire Tommie Agee. He wanted a guy to bat leadoff with speed and that also could hit for power.” The deal also re-united Agee with long-time friend and Mets left fielder Cleon Jones.

The ’68 Grapefruit League opener was a bleak foreshadowing for Agee’s first year as a Met. He was beaned by St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson on the first pitch of spring training and wound up hospitalized. Agee began the regular season batting third with a 5-for-16 start, good for a .313 average and five runs scored. In the fifth game, however, he endured an 0-for-10 nightmare in a 24-inning loss at the Astrodome, embarking on an 0-for-34 slump that tied Don Zimmer’s club record set in 1962. After going hitless for two weeks and seeing his average drop to .102, he finally grounded a single off Philadelphia’s Larry Jackson. He did not have his first home run or RBI until May 10. Agee ended the year with a .217 batting average and a mere five home runs and 17 RBIs in 391 at-bats. He walked just 15 times—his lowest total over a full season—while fanning 100 times for the third straight year.

Oddsmakers and baseball pundits tagged the 1969 Mets as a 100-1 longshot to win the Fall Classic. Why? Since their inception the hapless club never finished higher than ninth place. The smart money knew only a miracle could turn them around and that wasn’t going to happen. Or was it?

Agee, fittingly, was the first Mets batter of 1969. Primed for redemption and rewarding his manager’s faith b installing him in the leadoff spot, he knocked in New York’s first runs of the season with a three-run double in the second inning on Opening Day. Two days later, on April 10, the 26-year-old launched two home runs. His first of the day was a legendary homer in the second inning that landed in Shea’s left-field upper deck.

“I’ve never seen a ball hit like that,” says Rod Gaspar, who had a perfect view of the flight pattern from the on-deck circle. “Just incredible.”

Even the pitcher who gave it up was impressed. “It was a low fastball, kind of in, and he hit it almost like a golf ball,” recalled Montreal Expos southpaw Larry Jaster. “A lot of times, you don’t watch ’em. That one I had to watch because I knew it was hit pretty good.” Agee got a hold of another Jaster pitch his next time for a more garden variety home run.

Agee was the first—and last—to ever land a ball in the rarified air of fair territory in left or right field at Shea Stadium. The approximate spot was later memorialized by painting a large circle where he hit his home run with his name, number, and date. Years later, it was estimated at 480 feet.

But long balls were a generally rare event with the Mets. A pitching-first club without a lot of hitting, the 1969 Mets won by scoring just enough runs to win. They went a remarkable 41-23 in one-run games in 1969, often relying on their “lunch pail” everyday center fielder to inspire teammates. Cleon Jones believes Agee did so. Jones, Agee’s longtime friend, enjoyed the best season of his career in 1969. “I had a great year because of him,” Jones said of Agee. “There weren’t many people getting on base, but he was. And he made us a good defensive team. We didn’t have a whole lot of offense, but we didn’t beat ourselves. He made the difference defensively.”

Agee led the 1969 Mets in games (149), at-bats (565), runs (97), and, surprisingly for a leadoff man, he led the club in both home runs (26) and RBIs (76). Though he had a superb season with his glove in center field, Cincinnati Reds right fielder Pete Rose wound up claiming a Gold Glove along with automatics Roberto Clemente and Curt Flood. Rose finished fourth in the MVP voting to Willie McCovey; Agee was sixth.

Agee’s offense garnered plenty of notice. After the Mets started slicing off chunks of the 10-game mid-August lead of the Chicago Cubs, he told Larry Merchant of the New York Post, “Sometimes a team comes to town and reads in the paper that you’ve hit a home run leading off.”

Indeed, the Cubs must have been perusing the Big Apple tabloids. The first pitch of the September 8 showdown by Cub Bill Hands knocked down Agee. It was called “a pitch designed to send him and the Mets to their maker.” After that game, which New York won with Agee sliding past catcher Randy Hundley in a memorably close call, the outfielder commented, “I don’t mind being knocked down. If you’re hitting they’re going to knock you down. The only thing I don’t like is if we don’t retaliate.” Jerry Koosman took care of that end and the Mets—with a visit from a black cat—took care of the Cubs the next night and took over first place the night after that.

The Mets mowed down the opposition, finishing with a 100-62 record. The Amazin’s topped the second place Cubs by eight games and captured the first National League East title in history. The inaugural Championship Series saw New York square off against the West’s Atlanta Braves. Agee, who played every day despite Hodges’s multiple platoon system, batted leadoff in all three games. After becoming the first Mets to ever appear in a postseason game and going hitless in the series opening win, Agee homered in each of the next two games and knocked in four for a .357 average as the Mets swept.

Agee was the first Met to step to the plate in a World Series game and—as he’d done in the NLCS opener—he grounded out. Orioles outfielder Don Buford—a former teammate of Agee’s in Chicago—belted a leadoff home run against Tom Seaver as Baltimore took the first game, 4-1. The Mets held on for a 2-1 win the next day to even the Series.

Agee took over Game Three and the Mets shifted into another gear. Sports Illustrated labeled Agee’s October 14 performance, “The most spectacular World Series game that any center fielder has ever enjoyed.” Agee led off the first World Series game played at Shea with a home run against Orioles ace and future Cooperstown entrant Jim Palmer. Agee had been 0 for 8 in the two games in Maryland.

New York was up 3-0 in the fourth inning, but the Orioles threatened with runners on first and third and two outs. Baltimore catcher Elrod Hendricks hit a Gary Gentry pitch to left-center. It looked like a double or even a triple for the Baltimore backstop. As Agee sprinted toward left field, Cleon Jones knew his old friend would make the play. “I saw him pound his fist into his glove,” Jones said. “Whenever he got ready to make a catch, he would pound his fist into his glove.” Agee reached out and grabbed the ball backhanded as he came to a halt before slamming into the 396-foot sign—with plenty of white showing as the ball lodged in the glove’s stretched webbing.

Baltimore loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. Orioles center fielder Paul Blair represented the tying run as Nolan Ryan came in to replace Gentry. Blair slammed a drive to deep right-center field as Agee again sped in pursuit. At the warning track he dove for the ball as if he were an Olympic swimmer. The ball landed in his glove as he sprawled prone to the ground. Agee later said, “I thought I might get it without diving, but the wind dropped the ball straight down and I had to hit the dirt.”

The 56,335 at Shea gave him a standing ovation when he led off in the bottom of the frame. Later on he related, “Words can’t describe how that made me feel. I felt like I wanted to hit two home runs in that one time at bat.” He walked—the Orioles weren’t taking any more chances with Agee.

Press box sports scribes immediately considered Agee’s catch that denied Blair of a sure triple or inside-the-park homer with other key Series plays: great grabs like Al Gionfriddo off Joe DiMaggio (1947), Willie Mays off Vic Wertz (1954), or Sandy Amoros off Yogi Berra (1955). After the contest Agee said, “The homer meant only one run. The catches saved more than that.”

Agee’s leadoff homer accounted for one run and the catches saved at least five runs in the 5-0 win that put the Mets ahead of the overwhelming favorite Orioles in the World Series. Agee had just two more hits in the Series and finished with a .167 average in the five-game victory, but he was still as much a hero as anyone on a team suddenly overflowing with supermen.

Following the World Series, Agee along with a few other Mets appeared in a Las Vegas revue, singing “The Impossible Dream” among other standards. Back in Mobile, Agee and Jones were honored with a parade. Agee later noted somberly, “They never paid any attention to us before. I hate to think it took a World Series, but I guess there wasn’t much interest in two black players until something like this happened.”

The Sporting News named Agee NL Comeback Player of the Year. He continued to be the club’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder for three more seasons. He won his overdue second Gold Glove in 1970 and surpassed his ’69 season in several categories. He batted a career-high .286 and had his lone career 30-double season. That year also saw him set team records with 636 at-bats, (broken by Felix Millan in 1973 with 638), 31 stolen bases (topped by Lenny Randle in 1977 with 33), 107 runs (surpassed by one by Darryl Strawberry in 1987), and 298 total bases (erased by Strawberry in ’87 with 310). Agee had both a 20-game and a 19-game hitting streak in’70 while his 24 home runs made him the first Met in history to twice lead the club in that category or reach 20 homers in more than one year.

The 1971 and 1972 seasons saw Agee hampered by knee problems. Before the 1972 season, Hodges died suddenly and Yogi Berra was named manager. More change was in store on May 11 when the Mets acquired the greatest center fielder to ever come from Alabama: Willie Mays. Agee still got the majority of starts in center field over the 41-year-old Mays, but he no longer played every day as he had under Hodges. His average stood at .281 the day Mays had his first at-bat as a Met and Agee finished the year at just .227, his lowest average since his first year at Shea.

On November 27, 1972, the Mets dealt Agee to the Houston Astros for outfielder Rich Chiles and right-hander Buddy Harris. Agee appeared in 83 games for Houston and batted .235 with eight home runs. The Astros sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals on August 18, 1973, receiving outfielder Dave Campbell and cash. His last game was September 30, 1973 at Busch Stadium, where he pinch-hit for pitcher Diego Segui in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. Agee grounded out to short.

Agee had planned to continue playing and the Los Angeles Dodgers fully expected him to as well. On December 5, 1973, the Cards traded him to Los Angeles for Pete Richert, but the Dodgers released Agee near the end of spring training on March 26, 1974. Agee ended his career, at age 31, with a .255 batting average with 130 home runs, 433 RBIs, and 167 stolen bases. He finished one hit shy of 1,000 for his career.

In retirement, Agee was very active in youth programs in the New York area. He owned a bar near Shea Stadium called The Outfielder’s Lounge. He later went into the business sector and was affiliated with Stewart Title Insurance Company. On January 22, 2001, upon leaving a midtown Manhattan office building, Agee was stricken with a fatal heart attack. He was 58 years old. Agee was survived by his wife Maxine and daughter Janelle.

Mets team chairman Nelson Doubleday called Agee “one of the all-time great Mets.” On Opening Day 2001 the Mets wore a patch honoring Agee and Brian Cole, a prospect killed in an auto accident shortly before the opener. Agee was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2002, the last Met so honored at Shea Stadium. Members of his family were invited to take part in the final day at Shea in 2008.

After Agee’s death, Cleon Jones still marveled at how his old friend made playing center field at Shea Stadium look easy, despite its poor visibility and swirling winds. “I hated it; every guy before me hated it,” recalled Jones, who was the club’s center fielder the two years prior to Agee’s arrival in New York. “But Tommie never complained. I watched Willie Mays, Curt Flood, Vada Pinson—a lot of guys came into this Shea Stadium outfield. Nobody played it better than Tommie Agee.”