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Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver

Personal Info
Birth November 17, 1944
Birthplace Fresno, California, California
Death August 31, 2020
Deathplace Calistoga, California
Professional Career
Debut April 13, 1967, New York Mets vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, Shea Stadium
Team(s) New York Mets (19671977)
Cincinnati Reds (19771982)
New York Mets (1983)
Chicago White Sox (19841986)
Boston Red Sox (1986)
Career Highlights
  • All-Star Games: 1967–1973, 1975-1978, 1981)
  • Cy Young Award: 1969, 1973, 1975
  • Led league in ERA: 1970 (2.82), 1971 (1.76) & 1973 (2.08)
  • Led league in wins: 1969 (25), 1975 (22), 1981 (14)
  • Led league in strikeouts: 1970 (283), 1971 (289), 1973 (251), 1975 (243) & 1976 (235).
  • Pitched a no-hitter on June 16, 1978
  • Career strikeouts: 3640
  • Career record: 311–205
  • New York Mets No. 41 retired
  • New York Mets Hall of Fame
  • Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame

George Thomas Seaver (nicknamed Tom Terrific and The Franchise) (November 17, 1944 – August 31, 2020) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher who broke into the major leagues in 1967 and retired in 1986. He played for four different teams in his career, but was primarily associated with his first: the New York Mets. Seaver had 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA during a 20-year career. In 1992 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award and three Cy Young Awards as the league's best pitcher. As the Mets' all-time leader in wins, Seaver is considered the greatest player in club history, as well as one of the best MLB starting pitchers of all time.

Number retired by the New York Mets (1988)
Tom Seaver
P: 1966-77, 1983

Early development

As a high school pitcher, Seaver compensated for his lack of size and strength by developing great control on the mound. Despite being an All-City basketball player, he hoped to play baseball in college. After six months of active duty in the Marine Corps Reserves, Seaver enrolled at Fresno City College. He was much stronger and threw with greater velocity, but still had the same fine control of his pitches. The next year, he was recruited to pitch for the University of Southern California.

In 1966 he signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves, who had drafted him. However, the contract was voided by Baseball Commissioner William Eckert because of the rules of the NCAA. The Mets were subsequently awarded his signing rights in a lottery drawing among the three teams (Philadelphia and Cleveland being the two others) that were willing to match the Braves' terms.

Rookie of the Year

Seaver spent one season with the Jacksonville Suns of the International League, then joined New York in 1967. He won 16 games for the last-place Mets, with 18 complete games and two shutouts, and was named the National League Rookie of the Year by the BBWAA. In 1968 he won 16 games again, and recorded over 200 strikeouts for the first of a record nine consecutive seasons; but the Mets moved up only one spot in the standings, to ninth.

The "Miracle Mets" season

In 1969, Seaver and the Mets completed a remarkable season, coming from the depths of the National League to win their first World Series championship. Seaver won a league-high 25 games (was 25-7) and his first National League Cy Young Award.

On July 9, before a crowd of over 59,000 at New York's Shea Stadium, Seaver threw 8 1/3 perfect innings against the division-leading Chicago Cubs. Then, rookie backup outfielder Jimmy Qualls lined a clean single to left field, breaking up Seaver's perfect game. He retired the next two batters to complete the 4-0 one-hit shutout. This game has been referred to as Tom Seaver's "imperfect game."

At year's end, Seaver was presented with both the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year, and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.

Continued excellence

On April 22, 1970, Seaver set a modern major league record by striking out the final 10 San Diego Padres batters of the game. In addition to his 10 consecutive strikeouts, Seaver finished the game with 19 strikeouts, tying Steve Carlton's major league record for a nine-inning game. Just four days earlier, Nolan Ryan had tied the former Mets record for K's in one game, which had been 15. (The record was later eclipsed by 20-strikeout games by Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and twice by Roger Clemens.)

Seaver had three more twenty-win seasons (20 in 1971, 21 in 1972, and 22 in 1975) and two more Cy Young Awards (1973 and 1975) with the Mets. He was the runner-up for the award in 1971. Between 1970 and 1976, Seaver led the National League in strikeouts six of the seven seasons, finishing third in 1975. Seaver also won three ERA titles as a Met.

During his tenure with the Mets, Seaver made 108 starts in which he pitched 9 or more innings and allowed 1 run or less. His record in those starts is 93 - 3 with 12 no-decisions. In seven of the 12 no-decisions, he pitched 10 or more innings. In the 12 no-decisions, he pitched a total of 117 innings, allowing 56 hits and 5 earned runs, compiling a 0.38 ERA.

Bye-bye, Big Apple

By 1977, the free agency period had begun and contract negotiations between Mets ownership and Seaver were not going well. Longtime New York Daily News columnist Dick Young regularly wrote negative columns about Seaver's "greedy" demands.

In what New York's sports reporters dubbed "the Midnight Massacre", Mets General Manager M. Donald Grant sent Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds on June 15, 1977 for Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn, and Dan Norman. He finished the 1977 season with 21 wins by going 14-3 with Cincinnati, including an emotional 5-1 win over the Mets in his return to Shea Stadium. Seaver struck out 11 in the return, and also hit a double.

His departure from New York sparked a massive fan revolt. Attendance plummeted, and Shea Stadium earned the nickname, Grant's Tomb.

After having thrown five one-hitters for New York, including three that were broken up in the 9th inning, Seaver finally recorded a 4-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 16, 1978 at Riverfront Stadium. Don Werner was the catcher that day, since Johnny Bench was sidelined by a back injury.

Seaver was 75-46 during his time in Cincinnati. He was a close runner-up for the 1981 Cy Young Award, and was voted 3rd and 4th in two other seasons.

Return to New York

After the 1982 season on December 16, 1982, Seaver was traded back to the Mets, for Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon, and Jason Felice. On April 5, 1983, he tied Walter Johnson's major league record of 14 Opening Day starts, shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. (He made two more such starts with the Chicago White Sox in 1985 and 1986 for a record total of 16 opening day assignments.) There wouldn't be many more highlights for Seaver that year, though he pitched better for the 1983 Mets than his 9-14 record indicated.

300 wins

Baseball Hall of Fame
Tom Seaver
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Seaver and the Mets were stunned on January 20, 1984 when he was claimed in a free-agent compensation draft by the Chicago White Sox. The team (especially GM Frank Cashen) had incorrectly assumed that no one would pursue a high-salaried, 39-year-old starting pitcher, and left him off the protected list. Faced with either reporting to the White Sox or retiring, Seaver chose the former.

Seaver pitched two and a half seasons in Chicago, crafting his last shutout on July 19, 1985 against the visiting Indians. In an anomaly, Seaver won two games on May 9, 1984. Seaver pitched the 25th and final inning of a game suspended the day before, picking up the win in relief, before starting and winning the day's regular-scheduled game.

On August 4, 1985, Seaver won his 300th game at New York against the Yankees. (Coincidentally, it was Phil Rizzuto Day — Rizzuto would later become Seaver's broadcast partner for Yankee games). He almost returned to the Mets down the stretch, as Frank Cashen was poised to make a trade, but manager Davey Johnson vetoed the idea. He ended his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, traded at mid-season for Steve Lyons. His 311th and last win came on August 18, 1986 against the Minnesota Twins.

A knee injury prevented him from appearing against the Mets in the World Series but Seaver received among the loudest ovations during player introductions prior to Game 1. The Red Sox released him following the 1986 season. Seaver briefly tried to make a comeback with the Mets in 1987 when their pitching staff was decimated by injuries, but retired after being shelled in an exhibition start against the Mets' Triple-A affiliate, the Tidewater Tides, saying, "I've used up all the competitive pitches in my arm". The Mets retired his uniform number 41 in 1988.

Hall of Fame

Seaver was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 7, 1992. He received the highest-ever percentage of votes with 425 of 430 ballots (98.84%), surpassing Ty Cobb's 98.23%, and falling just five votes short of an unanimous selection. Seaver is the only player enshrined in the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque.

Seaver was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 1999, Seaver ranked 32nd on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the only player to have spent a majority of his career with the Mets to make the list. That year, he was also a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Baseball purists often compare him to Christy Mathewson for his combination of raw power, pinpoint control, and, perhaps most of all, his intense scrutiny of his own performance, as well as that of his opponents. While other pitchers may be renowned for having more strikeouts or wins, few pitched with such perfection as did Seaver. His best season probably came in 1971, a year in which he struck out 289 batters in 286 innings, won 20 games while losing just 10, and posting an ERA of 1.76. The Cy Young Award went to Ferguson Jenkins that year, more for being a sentimental favorite than for having had a better year. Describing Seaver's skill, Reggie Jackson once said: "Blind people come to the park just to listen to him pitch."

An excellent hitting pitcher, Seaver hit 12 home runs during his career.

Since retirement, Seaver has sometimes been a television color commentator, working variously for the Mets, the New York Yankees, and with Vin Scully in 1989 for NBC Sports. He has also worked as a part-time scout, and as a Spring training pitching coach. Currently, he lives in California, where he tends to his vineyards. The first bottles of wine from the vineyards, a cabernet named Seaver, will be available sometime in 2008. On September 28, 2006, Seaver was revealed as the Hometown Hero for the New York Mets in an hour-long telecast on ESPN.

Personal life and death

Seaver was married to the former Nancy Lynn McIntyre on June 9, 1966. They were parents of two daughters.

In 2013, it was reported that Seaver suffered from memory loss, sleep disorder, nausea, and a general overall feeling of chemical imbalance." On March 7, 2019, Seaver's family announced that he was suffering from dementia and retiring from public life.

On August 31, 2020, Seaver died in his sleep at the age of 75 as a result of complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19.


  • The family from the television show Growing Pains, which lives on Long Island and are Mets fans, is called the Seavers. The neighbors curiously were named - the Koosmans. Jerry Koosman was a long time teammate of Seaver.
  • In 2006, Seaver was named the DHL Hometown hero for the New York Mets.
  • Only player to strikeout 10 batters in a row.
  • Only player to strikeout 200 batters in nine consecutive seasons.
  • About the 1969 "Miracle Mets", was quoted as saying "If the Mets can win the World Series, the US can get out of Vietnam."
  • Tom has a sister Katherine Seaver Jones who has four children: Brian Jones (Bearing Point), Eric Jones (accredited golf instructor), Sarah Whalen (housewife, shopper), and Polly Riley (Teacher at Reno High School). Brian has two children: a 13-year-old son Nicholas Jones and a 10-year-old daughter Christina Jones. Eric has a daughter at the age of two by the name of Madison and has another daughter on the way. Sarah has one son in Griffith Whalen who is a junior at his high school in Sylvania (Toledo), Ohio. Polly has three children: Shaye(10) who is a junior olympic swimmer, Peyton, and Devin.

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Tommy Helms
National League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by:
Johnny Bench
Preceded by:
Bob Gibson
National League Cy Young Award
Succeeded by:
Bob Gibson
Preceded by:
Steve Carlton
National League Cy Young Award
Succeeded by:
Mike Marshall
Preceded by:
Mike Marshall
National League Cy Young Award
Succeeded by:
Randy Jones