Remembering The Life And Legacy Of Mets Great Tom Seaver

The Mets set up a make-shift memorial at Citi Field, which was renamed to 41 Seaver Way in honor of Tom Seaver in 2019. (Photos by Joseph Wolkin)

Tom Seaver was, is and always will be “The Franchise.” The famed New York Mets pitcher died on Aug. 31 at the age of 75 following a tragic battle with dementia.

The walls inside of 41 Seaver Way in Flushing are crying, even if you can’t hear them.
A person’s legacy is not only crowned by their achievements, but rather the impact they make on others. For Seaver, the Californian presented himself as a Hall of Famer both on and off the field.

Hank Aaron, who hit the second-most home runs in MLB history with 755 career dingers, summed up Seaver’s dominance perfectly while speaking to SNY’s Steve Gelbs just hours after the legendary pitcher’s death.

“He was the best pitcher I ever faced,” Aaron, who hit .205 against Seaver in his career, said.

No. 41 was a dominating force throughout his 20-year MLB career. Seaver won an astonishing 311 games, 198 of which were in his 12 years with the orange and blue. In 656 games (647 starts), Seaver’s ERA was 2.86, making him one of the best pitchers of all-time.

Seaver became a Met in 1967, making a mere $10,000 as a rookie. Right off the bat, he excelled, tossing 18 complete games with two shutouts in his first season. From there on out, the accolades started rolling in.

Rookie of the Year. All Star. Cy Young winner. The list went on and on.

“It’s a tough day,” Keith Hernandez, a Mets broadcaster and MLB veteran, said the day after Seaver’s death.

On Sept. 1, the Mets took to the field in a somber way. Every player, in traditional Seaver way, rubbed dirt on their knees. Seaver would drop his knee down to the ground on the mound as he tossed his unbelievable pitches.

The Seaver knee drag was epic in of itself, and it’s amazing he never hurt his leg in the process.

Seaver is credited with turning the Mets around in the late 1960s. Prior to his Flushing arrival, the Mets were anything but a force to be reckoned with.

In 1969, Seaver’s career took off just as the Mets were becoming a leading force in baseball. No. 41 pitched with dominance, winning 25 games with five shutouts en route to the team’s first of two World Series trophies. In an outstanding 273.1 innings, he allowed a mere 202 hits and held a 2.21 ERA. That sealed the deal for his first of three Cy Young Awards, making him the best pitcher in the majors.

Though the Mets would not win another championship in the Seaver era, he continued to be the face of the organization through 1977. Seaver was a wizard on the mound in his time with the Mets. He never posted an ERA above 3.2, a statistic that can’t go unnoticed.

Eventually, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, returning to New York in 1983 before finishing his career with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

Seaver is one of only two pitchers to have more than 300 wins, 3,000 career strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA, with the other being Walter Johnson. Think about it this way, his wins above replacement is recorded at 92.4, according to FanGraphs, making him one of the top pitchers—if not the best ever—to pitch in a Major League Baseball game.

The legend carried himself like a Hall of Famer, taking in the pressure of New York as the team’s popularity continued to be on the incline.

June 24, 1988 became a day to remember in New York. Tom Terrific’s number would remain in Flushing for eternity. And four years later, Seaver made history again. This time, 425 out of 430 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame voted him in for what was, at the time, the highest voting percentage for an electee.

Seaver even became an analyst for the Mets and New York Yankees, working with the famed Vin Scully in 1989 at NBC. From 1999 to 2005, the legend called Mets games on TV before focusing on his California winery.

Seaver is survived by his wife Nancy and his two children, Sarah and Anni. May his memory forever be a blessing for them, as well as
for all baseball fans across the nation.

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Joseph Wolkin
Joseph Wolkin is the editor of the Levittown Tribune, Syosset-Jericho Tribune and Anton Media Group's automotive special section and county news section. A graduate of Stony Brook University, Joseph has been published in dozens of publications. He is the author of Grandma: The Story Of A Boy And His Grandma.

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