New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver poses for a photo in March 1968.
(AP Photo)

With the holidays approaching, Rich Coutinho digs up a New York Mets fan’s gift: a Tom Seaver interview involving 1969 and Gil Hodges.

It’s important to share and give with the holiday season approaching, and what better way to do that for the New York Mets fan with Tom Seaver audio? I wanted to share an interview I conducted with ESPN years ago that featured the greatest Met of all-time chatting about both 1969 and 1973 teams, as well as his connection with the great Gil Hodges.

To this day, Seaver is the greatest I have ever seen pitch here in New York. I know people will become terse with when it’s mentioned on social media, but he was a pitcher in every sense of the word, blending stuff with command and arriving on the scene when the Mets were desperate to put the comedy of their early years deep in the rearview history.

That 1969 team held a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers, something every Big Apple sports team has failed to match since. It also came at a time (much like today) when political views often clashed on an everyday basis. But the Mets were something everybody could reach out and grasp.

In a way, they reminded us of ourselves—far from perfect, but showcasing the commitment to work together for a greater, unthinkable goal.

Whenever I spoke to Seaver, whether in a formal setting similar to this interview or just chatting while eating a pre-game meal in the Shea Stadium press box, I always learned something about pitching or about the game we all love. And when Tom Terrific talked about the great Gil Hodges, tears would often roll down his face due to the love and admiration he had for the great Met manager.

Tom is ill these days, but I certainly hope he can be at Citi Field for the unveiling of the statue in his name—something that has been long overdue.

Oftentimes, when driving to Citi Field, my phone’s GPS will announce I’ve arrived at Seaver Way; and, admittedly, a tear comes to my eye. Without the great No. 41, I would have never learned to love the great game of baseball as much as I do.

And entering the Hodges Gate every day seems mighty appropriate to me. I can start the day doing what I love: seeing the names of the two people who guided so many of us down that road.

Thanks, Tom and Gil.