Foli is a bit of a galvanizing figure in team history. He is noted for being a number one pick in the draft (in 1968). He is known for being part of the deal which sent Rusty Staub to the Mets. He is known for getting into fights with both Ed Kranepool and Joe Pignatano.
He is also one of a handful of players who left the team and eventually came back (Jonathan Niese is the most recent inductee to that exclusive club). He also belongs to the exclusive, “played for both the Mets and Yankees” club, having made a 61 game appearance with the Yankees in 1984.
If you read fan recollections of Tim Foli, you’ll encounter quite a wide swing of sentiments. Some fans despised him. Some fans think he got what was coming to him when Kranepool tangled with him in the dugout. On the other hand, some other fans think he was a gutsy little player (a la Wally Backman) who always played steady defense (mostly at shortstop) and knew how to move a runner into scoring position so that the guys who were paid to drive in runs, could drive in those runs.
Looking back at his statistics now, he really didn’t play too many games for the Mets prior to his trade (along with Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton) to the Expos. Between 1970 and 1971, he appeared in 102 games. When he returned to play in 1978 and 1979, he played in 116 games.
The 1970 Mets Organizational handbook notes that in 1968 (his first year in the pros), he led all shortstops in the rookie Appalachian League in putouts, fielding percentage, assists, and double plays. In 1969, he led the California League in double plays.
As a shortstop at the major league level, Foli led the National League in double plays in both 1975 and 1976. He led the National League in putouts in 1972 and 1975. He also led the National League in fielding percentage in 1980 and the American League in 1982.
I want to say that I didn’t like him. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the nickname (“Crazy Horse”). Maybe he wasn’t part of the 1969 team and wasn’t part of that exclusive club. Maybe it was the fisticuffs and he was fighting with members of the beloved ’69 Champs. Maybe it was just because he wasn’t Bud Harrelson.