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Former New York Mets Legendary Pitcher Tom Seaver Died at Age 75
On Monday, August 31st, 2020 the legendary former Major League Baseball pitcher and baseball Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver, tragically passed away at the age of 75 years old. He died from complications of Lewy body dementia as well as COVID – 19 in the comfort of Calistoga, California where he has lived for the final years of his historic and inspirational life.
Apparently the Seaver family publicly announced in March of 2019 that Tom had been diagnosed with dementia, and that he will be retiring from public life moving forward. Although he was battling health issues, he continued to work at Seaver Vineyards which he founded with his wife, Nancy, in 2002. Seaver Vineyards lies on 116 acres at Diamond Mountain located in the Calistoga region of Northern California.
Seaver was also diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease in 1991. It happened to come back again in 2012 which unfortunately led to Bell's palsy as well as memory loss. Despite all of these health issues Tom lived a long and fruitful life. He touched and influenced so many people while leaving a huge impact upon the baseball community and mankind around the world.
George Thomas Seaver was born on November 17th, 1944 in Fresno, California. He attended Fresno High School where he pitched on the school’s baseball team and played basketball, but his love for the game of baseball dictated his intentions for when he reached the collegiate level. The University of Southern California (USC) recruited Seaver to play college hardball for the Trojans.
Following his sophomore year at USC the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Seaver in the 10th round of the 1965 Major League Baseball draft, but when Tom asked for $70,000 from the Los Angeles Dodgers, they passed on signing him. In 1966 he signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves, but the commissioner of Major League Baseball, William Eckert, voided that deal. Eventually Seaver found his first home in professional baseball with the New York Mets who were happy to sign the young right hander.
The New York Mets
Tom made the New York Mets big league roster in 1967, and he immediately made a strong impression on the baseball world that very same year. During his rookie season of 1967 Seaver won 16 games while losing 13 contests as he pitched 18 complete games, stuck out 170 batters, and achieved an earned run average of 2.76. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year, and he was selected to the MLB All Star game too. Despite his outstanding rookie season the New York Mets finished in last place, but the Mets knew they had a very special young pitcher to help them build a winning team around.
During Seaver’s second year in the show he won 16 games, and he threw over 200 strikeouts which he was able to accomplish for nine consecutive years which is the longest streak of 200 strikeout seasons in MLB history. Unfortunately, the New York Mets only moved up one spot in the National League standings to ninth place in 1968.
In 1969 Tom won a league high 25 games as well as winning his first National League Cy Young Award. He finished second in the National League MVP race to Willie McCovey that year too. Most importantly he led the New York Mets to their first World Series championship in franchise history in 1969 earning the team the nick name of the “Miracle Mets”.
Seaver made MLB history in 1970 by striking out 10 straight batters in a single game, and he is still the only Major League Baseball pitcher ever to punch out 10 consecutive hitters at the plate. Tom completed the season by going 18 and 12 as well as leading the National League in strikeouts with 273 and earned run average with 2.82.
In 1971 Seaver led the league in strikeouts and ERA once again while finishing the season with a record of 20 – 10, but he came up just short as he finished second for the NL Cy Young Award to Fergie Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs. From 1970 to 1977 with the New York Mets Seaver dominated on the mound with 4 more 20 win seasons (1971, 1972, 1975, 1977), and he deservingly won 2 more National League Cy Young Awards (1973, 1975).
The Cincinnati Reds
After various heated disputes with the New York Mets front office management, Seaver demanded to be traded immediately in 1977. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the MLB trade deadline on June 15th, 1977. In exchange for Seaver the New York Mets received the pitcher Pat Zachry, the minor league outfielder Steve Henderson, the infielder Doug Flynn, and the minor league outfielder Dan Norman.
While playing for the Cincinnati Reds Seaver finally pitched his first and only no hitter on June 16th, 1978 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1981 Tom recorded his 3,000th career big league strikeout when he K’d Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals. During his 6 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds he compiled a record of 75 wins and 46 loses with an earned run average of 3.18 over his 158 starts.
The Rest of his MLB Career
Following a rough injury plagued 1982 season in which he went 5 – 13 with the Cincinnati Reds, Seaver was traded back to the New York Mets in exchange for Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon, and Jason Felice. He pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1984 to 1986 before being traded to the Boston Red Sox for Steve Lyons mid – season of 1986. In June of 1987 Seaver announced his retirement from playing professional baseball by saying, “There were no more pitches in this 42 – year – old arm that were competitive. I've used them all up."
MLB Career Achievements, Awards, and Honors
Throughout Seaver’s illustrious 20 year career in Major League Baseball he was selected to the MLB’s All Star Team 12 times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981). He won a World Series championship with the New York Mets in 1969. He won 3 National League Cy Young Awards (1969, 1973, 1975). He was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1967.
Tom led the National League in wins 3 times (1969, 1975, 1981), in ERA 3 times (1970, 1971, 1973), and in strikeouts 5 times (1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976). He pitched an elusive no hitter in 1978. The New York Mets retired his number 41, and he was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame as well as the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Seaver was a first ballot selection to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 too.
His 311 career wins places him at the 18th spot on the all time MLB list, and his 3,680 career strikeouts puts him at the 6th spot on the all time MLB list. Tom had 9 consecutive seasons with 20 plus wins which is the longest streak in Major League Baseball history, and he is the only MLB pitcher to ever strike out 10 straight batters. He is 1 of only 8 pitchers in MLB history with 3,500 strikeouts as well as 300 wins. Tom Seaver will always be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball, and he will be missed by so many across the world.
"It is the last beautiful flower in the perfect bouquet," Seaver revealed on the afternoon that he was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.
"He will always be the heart and soul of the Mets, the standard which all Mets aspire to," says Mike Piazza, a former Mets catcher and fellow Hall of Famer.
"As a kid, you always wanted to be Tom Seaver," the former Mets closer as well as captain John Franco said.
"He was simply the greatest Mets player of all-time and among the best to ever play the game," the New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff, the team's chief operating officer, expressed in a recently released statement.
"Tom was a gentleman who represented the best of our national pastime," the current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred explained. "He was synonymous with the New York Mets and their unforgettable 1969 season.
"After their improbable World Series championship, Tom became a household name to baseball fans -- a responsibility he carried out with distinction throughout his life," Manfred stated.
Seaver's plaque in Cooperstown, NY at the Baseball Hall of Fame lauds him as a, "Power pitcher who helped change the New York Mets from lovable losers into formidable foes."
"Tom Seaver hated to lose," Jerry Grote, his longtime catcher with the Mets said. "In May of 1969, we had a celebration in the locker room when we reached .500 for the first time. Tom said, 'We want more than .500, we want a championship.'"
"My biggest disappointment? Leaving the Mets the first time and the difficulties I had with the same people that led up to it," Seaver remembered. "But I look back at it in a positive way now. It gave me the opportunity to work in different areas of the country."
"My idea of managing is giving the ball to Tom Seaver and sitting down and watching him work," says Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who had Seaver on his 1977 and '78 Reds teams.
"Tom Seaver was one of the best and most inspirational pitchers to play the game," the Cincinnati Reds chief executive officer Bob Castellini stated. "We are grateful that Tom's Hall of Fame career included time with the Reds. We are proud to count his name among the greats in the Reds Hall of Fame. He will be missed."
"From a team standpoint, winning the '69 world championship is something I'll remember most," Seaver proclaimed. "From an individual standpoint, my 300th win brought me the most joy."
"This is so very appropriate because he made the New York Mets the team that it is," explains Ron Swoboda, the right fielder whose sprawling catch helped Seaver pitch the Mets to a 10-inning win in Game 4 of the '69 Series against the Baltimore Orioles. "He gave them credibility."
"Just a class act. Just a gentleman in the way he handled himself, and really the way handled his whole career," the Miami manager Don Mattingly, a former New York Yankees captain expressed. "We just left New York, and every time you walk in a door there, it's like Tom Seaver Hall, with different pictures."
"He was a star. A shining star,'' says his New York Mets teammate Ed Kranepool. "No one can replace Tom Seaver."
"Kid, I know who you are, and before your career is over, I guarantee you everyone in this stadium will, too," Legendary ball player Hank Aaron remembers.
"I may have been paid before, but that's when I really became a professional," Seaver said.
"I had every hitter doing what I wanted, "Seaver previously recalled in 1992. "Afterward, my wife was in tears and I remember saying to her: 'Hey, I pitched a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. What more could I ask for?'"
Commissioner Spike Eckert explained that his decision was, "For the interest of the boy and the public. The youngster previously signed a contract with another club in good faith only to learn he had been improperly contracted. It was not his fault that the contract was invalidated."
"We're very high on Tom's potential," Atlanta Braves scout Johnny Moore stated. "We have watched him since he was a small lad in Fresno, and we especially kept our eye on him as he developed at Fresno City College and Southern Cal. As far as I'm concerned, there has been only one better deal since the free-agent draft setup [came] in effect last June. That was the signing of Rick Monday by Kansas City."
"The Braves were the only club to go after him," says Charley Seaver, "possibly because of his military status."
Baseball America quoted a veteran scout from the area who said of Seaver: "Some clubs wouldn't give him more than $4,000 because he had a below - average fastball. But he pitched against a team called the Crosby All-Stars just before the draft and was facing active major leaguers. He struck out 12 in five innings."
"He believes, unlike most pitchers and coaches, that a selective program of weight lifting will add speed to a pitcher's fastball," the sports writer Pat Jordan explained.
"Pitching is what makes me happy," Seaver explained to Jordan. "I've devoted my life to it. I live my life around the four days between starts. It determines what I eat, when I go to bed, what I do when I'm awake. It determines how I spend my life when I'm not pitching. If it means I have to come to Florida and can't get tanned because I might get a burn that would keep me from throwing for a few days, then I never go shirtless in the sun. If it means when I get up in the morning I have to read the box scores to see who got two hits off Bill Singer last night instead of reading a novel, then I do it. If it means I have to remind myself to pet dogs with my left hand or throw logs on the fire with my left hand, then I do that too. If it means in the winter I eat cottage cheese instead of chocolate chip cookies in order to keep my weight down, then I eat cottage cheese. I might want those cookies, but I won't ever eat them."
"Although he is not conscious of it, Seaver shows his disdain for men who he feels have not fulfilled their potential," Jordan expressed. "For Seaver, a man's talent is not just a part of the man. It is the whole man, or at the very least a mirror of the whole man."
"He was so dominant that day, he could have told us what pitch was coming and we still wouldn't have hit it," says baseball analyst Dave Campbell.
"Thank you for being such a great role model," Jeff Russo writes.
Geoff Reiss stated, "This is so incredibly sad. He was my Mantle, Kobe, MJ."
Legendary baseball writer John Thorn expressed: "Tom Seaver ... hail and farewell."
Keith Hernandez tweeted:
“I am deeply saddened of the passing of Tom Seaver. I had the honor of unsuccessfully hitting against him & having as a teammate. He is the greatest Met of all time. No one will ever surpass him that wears the orange & blue. My condolences to Nancy & his family. Tears.”
Jim Palmer tweeted:
“Saddened to hear my friend, Tom Seaver, has passed away. My condolences to Nancy & The Seaver family. Baseball lost the best pitcher of my era. #RIPTomTerrific @masnOrioles @Mets @Orioles”
Fergie Jenkins tweeted:
“Very saddened to hear of the passing of fellow Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Many great memories over the years. My thoughts and prayers are with the Seaver family.”
AL OLIVER tweeted:
“PAINFUL! THE PASSING OF TOM SEAVER BROUGHT OUT THE BEST IN ALL HITTERS.TWO PITCHERS THAT I WANTED ON THE MOUND FOR ONE GAME IT WAS TOM OR BOB GIBSON DURING MY http://TIME.RIP TOM SEAVER ⚾️ ”
Paul Byrd tweeted:
“Shout out to Tom Seaver who just passed. My father didn’t know baseball when I was a kid but I loved it so he bought Seaver’s Book, “The Art of Pitching,” and we studied it together. Thanks for the help. One of the most complete pitchers of All-Time. #TomTerrific #RIP”
Rob Friedman tweeted:
“Tom Seaver, Fastball, Slider and Curveball (home plate view). #RIPTheFranchise”
“Tom Seaver's scouting report while he was pitching for @USC_Baseball in 1965: Plenty of desire to pitch and wants to beat you. No truer words were ever spoken about the future @BaseballHall of Fame pitcher. Who was that scout? #Dodgers coach Tommy Lasorda.”
“Mike Piazza on Tom Seaver:
Tom was always rooting for me to get into the Hall. Two of my fondest memories are walking out of Shea Stadium together after the last game and then when he threw the ceremonial first pitch to me at Citi Field the next year. He was one of a kind.”
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp tweeted:
“RIP to Tom Seaver, member of the 1966 Jacksonville Suns.”
Tom Brokaw tweeted:
one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, one of the game’s nicest guys, married to a hall of fame woman, nancy.
in these dark days we need to remember the glories of the seavers. they are who we should celebrate every day.”
“Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame pitcher and Mets legend, dies at 75”, espn.com, September 2, 2020.
“Tom Seaver transformed the New York Mets and transfixed their fans”, David Schoenfield, espn.com, September 2, 2020.
“Baseball world mourns Tom Seaver on social media”, espn.com, September 2, 2020.
“Tom Seaver”, baseball-reference.com, September 10, 2020.
“New York Mets Team History & Encyclopedia”, baseball-reference.com, September 10, 2020.
Written by: David Green