Some players are well-liked from their playing days, into their broadcasting career, into the twilight of their lives; Tom Seaver is such a player and such a man.
This past Monday, 75-year-old Tom Seaver passed away in his sleep due to complications of dementia and COVID 19 according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seaver had a steller Hall-of-Fame career in his two decades on the mound, most notably as a Mets icon.
The Fresno, California native showed great control throughout his high school and college career. He earned a baseball scholarship and attended the University of Southern California, entering the 1965 draft, and ending up being selected by the Dodgers. LA ended up balking at his $70,000 signing bonus demand and through a complicated series of events, he ended up subsequently landing with the Mets.
Seaver won the Rookie of the Year Award for New York in 1967, and two years later served as a key cog in the 1969 Miracle Mets run to an improbable World Series Championship --- the first World Championship for a team that was, at the time, only in its eighth season. That season Seaver earned his first Cy Young Award (of three total Cy Young Awards), and finished second in NL MVP voting, a rare feat for a pitcher.
Seaver leads the Mets in many categories including serving as the All-Time WAR leader with a bWAR of 78.8, miles ahead of the second-most 49.2 that David Wright compiled. Seaver holds the Mets’ franchise records for games started, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts, FIP, ERA, wins, Win Probability Added (a relatively new stat that determines how effective players are in wins). During his 12-year tenure in New York, he led the National League in strikeouts five times, and in ERA+ three times. During his 11 seasons in his first tenure in New York, he made ten all star teams, only missing out in 1974, a year in which he led the NL in strikeout to walk ratio.
Seaver will forever be known as a Mets icon, but he played for three other teams across the back-end of his career. The Mets traded Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 as part of a cost-cutting effort (sound familiar Mets fans?).
Seaver earned his first career no hitter in a Reds’ uniform, in a 4-0 victory over the Cardinals. This was a further sting to Mets fans, as Seaver had previously tossed five one-hitters in New York, two of which saw that one hit come in the ninth inning.
Cincy ended up trading Seaver back to the Mets in 1983, and they picked up hsi contract for the 1984 season as well, but the White Sox claimed the unprotected Seaver in the 1984 compensation draft, yet another Mets bungle. New Yorks’ front-office did not expect any team would be interested in a highly-paid veteran starting pitcher. They were obviously incorrect in that assumption.
Seaver spent three seasons in Chicago before closing out his career in 1986 in Boston. That last season of course pitted those Red Sox against the Mets in the World Series, but recurring knee injuries kept Seaver sidelined during the Fall Classic. Although he tried a comeback with the Mets the following year, he threw his last pitch as a Red Sox player.
Seaver is only one of two pitchers in the history of the game with 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3.00. He also holds the MLB record for most consecutive strikeouts, with ten.
Following a storied career, Seaver went on to become a color commentator for the Mets, Yankees, and nationally on NBC. He also helped with scouting and as a spring training pitching coach, never straying too far from the game he loved.
Tom Terrific will remain an integral part of baseball and Mets history, and he will be sorely missed by the entire community.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano