By: Fred Aaron

Mets Memories: An Upper Deck Blast to Remember


Yoenis Cespedes became the first player to hit an upper deck home run at Citi Field during an official game. There had been a number of upper deck shots during the 2013 All Star Game Home Run Derby at Citi Field, but that was off of batting practice pitchers trying to serve up meatballs to the hitters, including the winner, Yoenis Cespedes (then playing for the Oakland A’s). The Cespedes blast came off of Cubs veteran starter John Lackey who was certainly not looking to groove one to the Cuban slugger, as he was then protecting a 3-0 lead. The home run was measured at an astounding 441 feet (some have even projected it to be 465 feet). There is hope that this will auger well for the future of the Mets, who are currently mired in a team-wide slump, fully 6 games behind division leading Washington Nationals.

In the history of Shea Stadium, there was only one man to hit one into the Upper Deck: Mets great Tommie Agee. The date was April 10, 1969, and the early season contest with the Montreal Expos was only attended by 8,608 fans. That might not seem like many folks, but you have to keep in mind that the Mets were coming off a 73 win season where they finished ninth out of ten teams in the National League, and the Expos were a brand new expansion team for the ’69 season. Plus, it was an early season game on a Wednesday afternoon when most grownups were working and kids were in school.

On the mound for the Expos was veteran lefthander Larry Jaster, who was coming off a 9-13 season for the NL Pennant winning St. Louis Cardinals before being drafted by Montreal in the expansion draft. Jaster had actually had good career numbers at Shea prior to that date, having even taken a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Mets in 1968. But April 10, 1969 would be different. This would be Jaster’s first start for his new team in only the third game for Les Expos, and it would be memorable for all the wrong reasons (at least from Larry Jaster’s standpoint). Making the start for the Mets was rookie phenom Gary Gentry making his big league debut.

Future Mets Rusty Staub and Don Hahn, and former Met Don Bosch would be in the ballpark sporting the Tricolor uniform of the Expos. Leading off in the bottom of the first, Agee would golf a low inside fastball into the upper deck in leftfield, the first of two homers he’d hit that day against Jaster. Sadly, the game was not televised so the only record of the historic homer was a plaque that was placed on the spot marking where the ball landed. Had the Upper Deck not been there, Agee’s blast might have travelled all the way the runway at LaGuardia Airport. Everyone who was there would never forget what they saw. The blast would show that Agee had fully recovered from his Spring Training 1968 beaning by Bob Gibson, and would show that the 1969 Mets were a force to be reckoned with. And we all know how beautifully that all ended.

I am not sure if there is a move by the Mets to put a memorial to Cespedes’s historic blast. But I hope they decide to do something since it would be a fitting tribute to our current slugging centerfielder and a connection to this team’s first great slugging centerfielder, Tommie Agee.

About Fred Aaron

Recommended for you