September 2nd, 2020 is a day that will live in Mets infamy. After a long battle with Alzheimer's dementia, it was announced that the greatest Met to ever play the game, Mr. Tom Seaver, passed away.
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this article, recapping the Amazin' career of Tom Seaver.
New York Mets
Tom Seaver was born on November 17, 1944 in Fresno, California. Seaver attended Fresno High School, where he was a pitcher for his high school team.
After serving one year in the United States Marine Corps, Tom Seaver was recruited by the University of Southern California. Seaver was an all around talented athlete. Making the All-City basketball team in Fresno, but his love of baseball was too strong to pursue a career in pro basketball. Seaver opted to play baseball in college instead of basketball. The USC Trojans were unsure of Seaver's worth, so in 1964 he was sent to pitch for the Alaska Goldpanners in Fairbanks, Alaska. Seaver played one season in Fairbanks, where he posted a 10-2 record. He was drafted in 1965 in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the Dodgers passed on Seaver after he asked for $70,000.
Seaver was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1966 secondary draft. Soon after, he signed a professional contract with the club. The contract was voided by the commissioner of baseball at the time, William Eckert. The contract was voided because the USC Trojans played two exhibition games that year, even though Seaver didn't play any of those games. After a long battle between the Seaver family and commissioner Eckert, the commissioner ruled that other teams could make Seaver an equal offer as the Braves, and that a team would be awarded Seaver's signing rights via a lottery drawing. The Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, and New York Mets were the teams that made Seaver an offer. The Mets won the lottery drawing, and the rest is history.
Tom Seaver made the New York Mets major league team in 1967 after spending one season with the Jacksonville Suns AAA ball club. Tom made the All-Star team in his rookie year, where he posted a 16-13 record, 18 complete games (something you'll never see again) 2.76 ERA, and 170 strikeouts. Seaver was named the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year. The Mets finished in last place in the National League in 1967.
In 1969, Seaver won his first Cy Young award, and finished second in MVP voting behind San Francisco Giants Willie McCovey. On July 9th, 1969, Seaver threw 8.1 perfect innings against the first place Chicago Cubs. Cubs outfielder Jim Qualls broke up the perfect game bid with a single to left field in the ninth inning. This game went on to be known as "Tom Seaver's Imperfect Game."
The New York Mets faced the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series, the first World Series appearance for the Mets who became a franchise only 7 years earlier in 1962. In game 4 of the '69 World Series, Seaver threw a 10 inning game, where the Mets won 2-1. The underdog Mets won the series in 5 games against the heavily favored Orioles, resulting in one the biggest upsets in baseball history. This upset earned the Mets the nickname "Miracle Mets." Tom Seaver won Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" at the end of 1969.
Seaver set a major league record in April of 1970, when he struck out the final 10 batters in a game against the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium. Seaver struck out 19 altogether in that game, tying a then-record for the most strikeouts in a 9 inning game.
In 1971, Tom Seaver led the majors in strikeouts (289) and ERA (1.76) with a 20-10 record. Seaver went on to post 4 more 20 win seasons in his career. (20 wins in 1971, 21 wins in 1972, 22 wins in 1975, 21 wins in 1977)
Seaver won three Cy Young awards with the Mets in 1969, 1973, and 1975. Reggie Jackson was famously quoted saying "Blind men come to the park just to hear him pitch."
The Mets made the World Series again in 1973, where they faced off against the Oakland Athletics. In game 5, the Mets were up 3 games to 2. With Tom Seaver on the mound for game 5, what could go wrong? The Mets were sure to walk away with their second title in 4 years. Seaver earned the loss that day, Oakland tied the series. The Athletics won game 7 in Oakland 5-2.
The Midnight Massacre
After the 1976 season, the relationship between Tom Seaver and Mets ownership began to sour. Seaver wanted to renegotiate his contract with the team, but the Mets front office wouldn't budge. Things became even uglier when a New York Daily News reporter by the name of Dick Young began to write regular columns about Seaver's "greedy demands." Seaver went to Mets owner Lorinda de Roulet, who helped general manager Joe McDonald negotiate a three-year contract extension. Young then wrote a story in the Daily News that said Seaver was being pushed by his wife to ask for a bigger contract, because she was jealous of Nolan Ryan's contract with the California Angels. After the article was written and published, Seaver demanded a trade from New York.
Seaver was traded at the trade deadline. On June 15th, 1977, the greatest player to ever don a Mets uniform, was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. The completely lopsided trade has since been dubbed as The Midnight Massacre, since the players that the Mets traded for coudn't hold a candle to Seaver's talent. Seaver played in New York from 1967 to 1977.
In his first season with Cincinnati, Seaver went 14-3. Winning 20 games total in 1977 between New York and Cincinnati. Seaver struck out 11 batters in his return to Shea Stadium, where the Reds earned a 5-1 win over the Mets. Seaver made the 1977 All-Star team. The All-Star game was held at Yankee Stadium that year, and Seaver received a lengthy and emotional standing ovation from the Mets fans in the crowd that day.
On June 16, 1978, Seaver recorded his first (and only) career no-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Seaver recorded his 3,000th strikeout in 1977 with the Reds. He went on to suffer an injury ridden 1982 campaign.
Seaver finished his Reds career with a 75–46 record, 3.18 ERA and 42 complete games. In December of 1982, Seaver was traded back to the Mets. Seaver played for the Reds from 1977 to 1982.
Return to the Mets
Now, in the latter half of his career, Seaver is back in a Mets uniform. His second stint in New York was short lived however, when the Mets exercised the option on Seaver's contract at the end of the '83 season. Seaver was placed on waivers, and in January of 1984, Tom was claimed by the Chicago White Sox.
Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox
Seaver - now an older, more expendable veteran - was not the hot commodity that he once was as the best pitcher in the game just a few years prior. Seaver played for the Chicago White Sox from 1984 to 1986. He earned his 300th win with Chicago against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in 1985. Seaver posted a 33–28 record, 3.67 ERA and 17 complete games in three seasons with the White Sox.
Seaver was traded mid-season in 1986 to the Boston Red Sox. Boston went on to win the American League Pennant in 1986, where they met up in the World Series with Seaver's old team, the New York Mets. A knee injury prevented Seaver from playing in the 1986 postseason. Seaver received a standing ovation during the game 1 introductions at Shea Stadium. The Mets beat the Red Sox in 7 games in the 1986 World Series. 1986 would be the last time we would see Seaver pitch in a Major League Baseball game.
In 1987, Tom Seaver announced his retirement from professional baseball. Seaver's career accolades go as follows:
1x World Series Champion (1969)
3x Cy Young Award Winner ('69, '73, '75)
12x All-Star ('67, '68, '69, '70, '71, '72, '73, '75, '76, '77, '78, '81)
NL Rookie of the Year (1967)
5x NL Strikeout Leader ('70, '71, '73, '75, '76)
3x NL Wins Leader ('69, '75, '81)
3x NL ERA Leader ('70, '71, '73)
1992 National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
311-205 W-L Record
2.86 Career ERA
In 1988, the New York Mets retired Tom Seaver's #41. Seaver was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.84% voting percentage, the highest percentage ever recorded until Ken Griffey Jr's 99.3% in 2016, and then Mariano Rivera's 100% in 2019.
On July 16, 2013, Citi Field hosted the MLB All-Star game, where Seaver threw the ceremonial first pitch. This would be the last time we would see Seaver on a Major League Baseball diamond, and the last time we would see him in a Mets uniform.
On March 7th, 2019, it was announced by Tom Seaver's family that he was suffering from Alzheimer's dementia, and would be retiring from the public eye. The Mets announced soon after that they would be changing Citi Field's address to 41 Seaver Way, Flushing, NY. The New York Mets also commissioned a statue of Tom Seaver, that will be erected outside Citi Field in the coming years, but the production of the statue was probably halted due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom Seaver died peacefully in his sleep on August 31st, 2020, at the age of 75. The Seaver family announced his death on September 2nd, 2020.
As if 2020 hasn't already been a rough year for the human race. First we tragically lose Kobe Bryant, then the COVID-19 pandemic, the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, the death of NBA great Cliff Robinson, and the racial injustice issues that this country faces everyday, now we lose one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. Oh and the Mets are currently a dumpster fire as usual.
RIP Tom Seaver, even though I never got to see you play, I have heard many great stories from my father, and my grandparents who were Mets fans before me. They passed their love for you and the Mets down to me, and I am sad for them, sad for me, sad for the Mets organization, sad for Mets fans, and just sad for all of baseball.
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