The addition of Gil Hodges as manager and Tommie Agee in centerfield would help the Mets turn the corner in 1968. New York got Hodges from the Washington Senators and Agee from the Chicago White Sox through trades. The '69 miracle Mets puzzle was almost complete.
Agee had a harder time of it, starting out very slow after being beaned by a Bob Gibson fast ball the first pitch of spring training. It would take a while before Tommie completely recovered. _________________________________________
Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman gave the Mets a right/left one-two punch in the pitching rotation. This was a new experience for Met fans. Both of these pitchers were good enough to be a staff ace.
Cleon Jones was coming into his own having batted .297 in 1968. He played mostly center field in 1966 and '67 and had become the Mets everyday left fielder in 1968. Cleon collected 151 hits and knocked out 14 home runs, a career high.
Ed Kranepool had first base to himself in 1968 after a failed experiment in which he and Ron Swoboda platooned at first base. He had a disappointing season. In 127 games he he batted .231 with 3 homers and 20 RBI.
Jonathan Stern posted this story at the Ultimate Met Database:
Salty was elected to Nash and Zullo's Baseball Hall of Shame for a bonehead move he made as third base coach for the Astros in 1969. In a late September game against the Braves, Houston's Norm Miller was on third base representing the tying run. Atlanta catcher Bob Didier was wearing a large white cast on his hand. At some point, pitcher Cecil Upshaw threw a fastball that knocked Didier's large white cast off his hand and toward the backstop.
From his position at third base, Parker thought that Didier's large white cast was the baseball. So he sent Norm Miller home!
Waiting for Miller at home plate was Didier, ball in hand and a big smile on his face. Miller was out. The Astros went on to lose the game.
And when it was all over, the Astros, according to Nash and Zullo, had some "salty words" for Parker.
The great picture of Salty Parker (which, btw, I was searching years for) is from the web site Baseball-Birthdays. There you will find a great collection of rare baseball photos, colorization work, and more. Many talented people doing kool stuff there.