Saturday September 05, 2020
Tom Seaver (1944-2020)
Tom Seaver debuted around the same time I began to go to baseball games with my dad (1967), and his final year in the Majors was the year before I graduated college (1986), but I never got to see him pitch in person. I was in an American League city and he was a National League star. I guess his final three years werein the AL (ChiSox, BoSox), but by then the Twins were in a dome, I was in college, and I wasn’t paying much attention.
But man did he loom. Saying Tom Seaver died is like saying a piece of the sky is gone.
In 1969 my best friend Ben’s family moved east, to Leonia, New Jersey, and when I saw him again he was a Mets fan and couldn’t stop talking about Tom Seaver. I felt so betrayed. I think I resented Seaver for a time. Stupid pudgy face. He’s not so great. But he was. Rookie of the Year his first year, Cy Young his third, Cy again in ’73 and ’75.
From ’69 to ’77, this is where he placed in Cy Young voting: first, second, seventh, fifth, first, nothing, first, eighth, third. During that time he led the league in wins twice, ERA twice, strikeouts five times, and WHIP three times. His bWAR for pitchers is seventh-highest all time (106), and the only guy above him who played after World War II is Roger Clemens, who carries his own baggage. Tom Terrific was clean-cut and clean. He just had tree-trunk legs. When he went into the Hall in ’92, it was with the highest vote percentage in history: 98.8%. Nobody surpassed it until Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016.
I just came across this controversy: When the Mets built Citi Field, they named the street after him (address: 41 Seaver Way) but there weren’t any statues. Most new ballparks have statues. Even old ballparks. Wrigley Field has statues for Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and announcer Harry Caray, but the Mets have none. Apparently this is being rectified now and it should. Seaver is the best player in Mets history and it’s not close. His bWAR while he was a Met is 78.8. Second best? David Wright, 49.2. Then Gooden at 46.4. No one else is within half of Seaver.
The New York Times says Lewy body dementia with Covid complications. This fucking year, man.