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Cubs historical sleuthing: Tommie Agee edition

When was this slide by the Mets outfielder?

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Tommy Agee #20 of the New York Mets slides into third base against the Chicago Cubs during an Major League Baseball game circa 1969 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City.

Yes, that’s Agee, and yes, that’s Shea, and yes, it’s against the Cubs, and yes, he is sliding into third base.

But it’s definitely not 1969. Why? Because you don’t see the 1969 baseball centennial patch on Ron Santo’s jersey.

So this has to be from 1970 or 1971, because those are the only other two years the Cubs wore that style of road uniform. Thus we are looking for a day game at Shea in those two years in which Agee and Santo both played.

There are five such games. (I eliminated a sixth in which Santo played, but for some reason Leo Durocher put him in left field.)

One more game was crossed off the list in which Agee did not reach base.

My first instinct was that this looks like Agee sliding into third base with a triple. And, in fact, that’s the only possible play in any of the remaining games in which he’d have to have made a slide like that — a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning, Saturday, May 23, 1970. Agee eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs had the last laugh in this game, though, winning 14-8. Billy Williams hit a pair of solo homers, on his way to a career-high 42 that year. Jim Hickman walked three times and scored four runs and a spare-part outfielder named Cleo James had three hits. It was James’ only three-hit game of the 1970 season.

The Cubs were 20-16 and led the NL East by one game after this win. They would stay in first place until a 12-game losing streak in June dropped them out of the top spot. They finished 84-78, in second place, five games behind the division-winning Pirates.