Tom Seaver is the greatest player to put on a New York Mets uniform. He shaped this franchise. That’s why alive or dead, he’ll never be forgotten.
Wednesday night bought devastating news for baseball fans everywhere, Tom Seaver had passed away. Seaver was the face of the New York Mets for so many years. His dominance on the mound and his love for the game made him a special player for the Mets.
He was their first homegrown superstar. Even after his playing days, his effect on New York never waned. His legacy as an elite player only grew stronger when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first to ever be inducted as a Met.
He continued to make his mark as a broadcaster, calling Mets games on WPIX from 1999-2005. There isn’t a generation of Mets fans who haven’t been touched by Seaver’s overwhelming legacy.
That’s why even in death, Seaver will never be forgotten. He’s touched too many hearts and made too big an impact on the game of baseball for that to ever happen.
The New York Mets franchise won’t be the same without Tom Terrific, but his legacy will continue to carry the team into the future.
Tom Seaver ended up a New York Met by sheer luck. Seaver was first selected in the 10th round of the 1965 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He demanded a significant signing bonus and the Dodgers walked away.
Seaver would reclassify for the January draft. There used to be two MLB drafts, one in June and one in January. Seaver was selected with the 20th pick in the draft by the Atlanta Braves. One month later, he had signed his first professional contract.
However, Seaver’s college season at USC was still ongoing. At the time, that meant that he was unable to sign a professional contract. As such, MLB commissioner William Eckert voided the contract.
After Seaver’s father was set to sue MLB, Eckert came up with a plan. He would allow any MLB team to match Seaver’s contract and if they did, they’d be entered into a lottery. The Mets, Phillies, and Indians all put their hat in the ring. Eckert held a drawing to see who would end up with Seaver, and by random luck, the New York Mets were pulled out of the hat.
As a Player
It didn’t take long for Seaver to make an impression. He was sent to AAA Jacksonville for 1966. He had a 3.13 ERA and 8.1 K/9. That was enough for the Mets.
He was called up for the 1967 season at 22 years old. He was a star. Seaver made his first All-Star appearance, garnered MVP votes, and won the NL Rookie of the Year.
By 1969, it was clear that Seaver was the best pitcher in MLB. Seaver led MLB in Wins, pitched to a 2.21 ERA, allowed the fewest hits/9 in MLB, and won his first Cy Young award. He was also the runner up in MVP voting, losing by just a few second-place votes to Willie McCovey.
Seaver’s dominance rocketed the Mets into contention. They became the Amazins. Behind Seaver, the Mets won the NL East, they beat the Braves in the first-ever NLCS, and they shocked the world by beating the Baltimore Orioles to win their first World Series.
Seaver would be named an All-Star in 10 of his first 11 seasons. He won three Cy Young awards and was a top-10 finisher for the award in eight of his first 11 seasons. He finished top-10 in MVP voting six times in his first 11 years.
Then, the midnight massacre came. In 1977, the Mets and Seaver were embroiled in a contract dispute. With free agency a new possibility, Seaver wanted to maximize his contract. The Mets and Seaver were at an impasse, but a deal was eventually worked out when Seaver went over the head of the team’s Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant.
However, Grant wasn’t going to let Seaver get what he wanted. He leaked a number of unflattering stories, some flat out lies, to New York Daily News columnist Dick Young. Things came to a head when Young wrote about Seaver’s wife being the one influencing his demand for a contract. Seaver immediately demanded a trade.
Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He didn’t find the same success in Cincinnati that he’d found in New York. Seaver made just two All-Star teams and only finished top-10 in Cy Young voting twice in five years.
In 1983, Seaver made his triumphant return to Queens. He pitched well but didn’t earn any accolades.
Seaver played two and a half years with the Chicago White Sox, before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox at the deadline in 1986.
Seaver helped the Red Sox clinch a postseason berth, but he never appeared in the postseason. His Red Sox went on to lose the World Series to the New York Mets in seven games.
When Seaver retired, he did so as one of the greatest ever. He finished his career sixth all-time in rWAR. He was the best pitcher of his generation, and one of the best the game had ever seen.
The Hall of Fame
The New York Mets retired Tom Seaver’s number in 1988, two seasons after he retired. He became the first Met to have his number retired. It wouldn’t be until 2016, when Mike Piazza’s number was retired, that another player joined him on the rafters.
In 1992, Seaver’s first year on the ballot, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He received 98.84% of the vote, the highest of any player in MLB history at the time. Only Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera have received a higher percentage of votes.
It’s a true testament to the legacy Seaver left behind. He was beloved by fans, teammates, and sportswriters. It was clear that he was the best pitcher that most have ever seen.
As a broadcaster
Tom Seaver’s broadcast career started during his playing days. He was a World Series analyst for ABC in 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1982. He also called the NLDS in 1981 for NBC.
Seaver began broadcasting full-time in 1989 on NBC. He replaced Joe Garagiola as the color commentator next to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully.
Seaver also called New York Yankees games for WPIX from 1989-1993. He would call Mets games on WPIX from 1999-2005.
Whether he was playing, broadcasting, or being honored, Seaver was always graceful. A true elite of the game, he touched the hearts of many.
There is no player in the history of MLB who deserves to be called “The Franchise” more than Tom Seaver. He is and always will be, the face of the New York Mets.