Remembering Mets History (1969) World Series Game #3- Tommie Agee Makes Two Spectacular Catches & Nolan Ryan Saves the Day

Tuesday October 14th, 1969- Shea Stadium, New York: For the very first time in its history, Shea Stadium hosted a World Series game. 56,335 Mets fans filed into Shea Stadium to see Gil Hodges Amazing Mets (100-62) go against Earl Weaver's A.L. Champion Baltimore Orioles (109-53). 

Many celebrities were on hand, great baseball players like Joe DiMaggio & Roy Campanella. Former Mets manager Casey Stengle, former first lady Jacklyn Kennedy Onasis & her husband Aristotle Onasis. Her children Caroline & John Kennedy Jr. New York State Gouverner Nelson Rockefeller, Broadway star Pearl Bailey, Met Opera singer Robert Merrill.

The series was tied at one game each, after the split in Baltimore.

The Mets rookie Gary Gentry (13-12 / 3.43 ERA / 154 Ks) went to the mound against O's future Hall of Famer, Jim Palmer (16-4 / 2.34 / 123 Ks). 

But this day would belong to Mets center fielder, Tommy Agee. Agee put on one of the best defensive displays in World Series history & a key hit as well. 

The festivities got under way, as Roy Campanella was honored in a pre-game ceremony & tossed out the ceremonial first pitch. 

Roy Campanella was a former Brooklyn Dodger teammate of Mets Manager Gil Hodges. Campanella was a three-time MVP winner who played in five World Series. 

A tragic car accident going to his home in Glen Cove Long Island in January of 1958 left him paralyzed requiring a wheelchair for mobility.

In the 1st inning an excited Shea crowd settled in for the big game. Gary Gentry took the mound & struck out Don Buford for the first out. 

Paul Blair flew out for the second out. Gentry then walked Frank Robinson, but he got Boog Powell to ground out to second base to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 1st, Mets leadoff man Tommie Agee gave the Shea Stadium crowd something to cheer about right away. He blasted a HR to left center field, putting the Mets on the board with a 1-0 lead. 

Agee had gone hitless in the first two games of the Series.

Jim Palmer got the first two outs in the bottom of the 2nd, then catcher Jerry Grote walked. Bud Harrelson followed with a single into center field.

Next up Mets pitcher Gary Gentry came up & surprised everyone with a double down the left field line scoring both Grote & Harrelson, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. During the regular season, Gentry batted .081 with six hits with one double & one RBI in 84 at bats.

On the mound, after the 1st inning walk to F. Robinson, Gentry retired eight in a row getting into the 4th inning. Gentry started the inning by striking out Paul Blair looking. Then Frank Robinson & Boog Powell both reached with base hits. In a big spot, Gentry struck out future Hall of Famer, Brooks Robinson for the second out. 

Next Catcher, Elrod Hendricks came to bat. He ripped a Gary Gentry pitch in to the left center field gap. Tommie Agee ran a long way from right center field, he stuck out his glove & made a spectacular catch grabbing the ball backhanded in the glove's webbing.

He ran up against the green Shea Stadium wooden wall, with the ball, like a snow cone hanging on the top of his glove.

The spectacular catch, saved two runs & was the third out of the inning, ending the Orioles threat. The Shea crowd went wild, standing & cheering in amazement. Even NBC broadcasted Curt Gowdy let out a surprising scream of excitement as Agee made the catch "what a grab, Tom Agee saved two runs".

In the 4th inning, Jim Palmer walked Bud Harrelson, he then had him picked off of first base, but his throw was wild. The error got Harrelson to second, but he was stranded there when Gary Gentry struck out.

Gentry got through the 5th inning with three straight ground ball outs to short stop Bud Harrelson, including a fine grab in the hole on Davey Johnson's bouncer. Harrelson was one of the best defensive short stops in the game in his era.

In the bottom of the 5th, Jim Palmer walked Wayne Garrett but got Cleon Jones to fly out to right field & Art Shamsky to ground out to Davey Johnson.

In the top of the 6th, Gentry got the first two outs & then walked Frank Robinson. Boog Powell then singled, sending Robinson to third. 

With runners on the corners, Brooks Robinson flew out to Shamsky in right field, ending another threat.

In the home 6th, Ken Boswell led off with a single and then scored when Jerry Grote doubled to left field, giving the Mets a big 4-0 lead. Jim Palmer then struck out Bud Harrelson & Gary Gentry to stop any more damage.

Gary Gentry rolled along into the 7th inning. He got the first two outs, but on long fly balls. Elrod Hendricks fly ball was close to going out, as it was caught in deep right center field. Davey Johnson then flew out to Agee in center as well

Gentry, then got wild, as he walked three straight Orioles, Mark Belanger, pinch hitter Dave May & Don Buford. 

Manager Gil Hodges came out, realizing Gentry had tired & took the ball from him. The Shea Stadium crowd gave him a nice ovation for the rookie's great effort. 

Overall, young Gary Gentry went 6.2 shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out four & walking five. 

From the bullpen, came the young fire ball throwing, Nolan Ryan. Ryan was last seen, pitching seven innings of relief of Gentry in Game #3 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium, sealing the pennant for the Mets. He got the winning decision allowing two runs on three hits while striking out seven & walking two.

Ryan served up a fastball to Paul Blair that he got a hold of & ripped to the right center field gap. Once again, Tommie Agee got on his horse, this time dashing to his left. He stretched out his glove and made a sliding diving grab, saving at least two more runs from scoring. 

The Orioles threat & the inning was over. Tommie Agee had made two of the greatest catches in World Series history, both in the same game, saving at least four runs. He certainly helped demoralize the mighty Orioles with another nail in their coffin.

The Shea Stadium crowd cheered once again, with a standing ovation. Now everyone was in America was witnessing the Amazing Mets.

 Tommy Agee secured his place in World Series history, Mets history & in the hearts of Mets fans forever.

The crowd of 56,335 gave Agee another standing ovation as he led off the bottom of the 7th inning. 

In that at bat he reached base with a walk. But Orioles reliever Dave Leonhard stopped the Mets there, ending the inning.

Nolan Ryan breezed through the 8th inning, getting Frank Robinson to fly out, albeit to deep left center field.  

Ryan then struck out Boog Powell looking as he blew a fastball right by him. Brooks Robinson then struck out swinging. The Shea crowd went wild once again.

In the bottom of the 8th, Ed Kranepool added a solo HR off Dave Leonhard making it 5-0 Mets. It was Eddie first HR of the post season his fourth hit & his second RBI.

In the 9th, Nolan Ryan got the first two outs on fly balls to right field by Elrod Hendricks & Davey Johnson. He then walked Mark Belanger. 

Pinch hitter, Clay Dalrymple then got on with an infield single. Then Ryan walked Don Buford to load the bases. Manager Gil Hodges stuck with the youngster & Nolan Ryan struck out Paul Blair looking to end the game. 

New York took two games to one lead & got closer to the Miracle.

In relief, Nolan Ryan pitched 2.1 innings, giving up no runs with one hit, striking out three Orioles & walking two, earning the World Series save.

Trivia: It was the only time Nolan Ryan ever pitched in a World Series in his 23 year career.


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