Wednesday night, the world learned of the passing of baseball legend Tom Seaver. He was 75.
For me, someone born in 1999, there’s not much I can say about Seaver that isn’t a second-hand account. Seaver’s final game was 13-years prior to when I was born, so I know what others have told me about him both directly and online.
I’ve seen some clips of him playing. I’ve watched a couple of the games from the 1969 World Series Championship run. I’ve seen video of him talking about his craft. I’ve seen video of him dominating batters. I’ve seen video of his back knee scraping the ground during his motion.
But I never got to see him live. I wish I could have.
My memory of Seaver is from 2008, when he closed out Shea Stadium with my childhood idol, Mike Piazza.
Piazza was to me what Seaver was to my dad — the superstar on the Mets when we were first exposed to the team. My dad was 1 year old when Seaver and the Mets went to the World Series in 1969. I was 1 when Piazza and the Mets went to the World Series in 2000.
Being able to attend the final game at Shea Stadium and watch Seaver throw the final pitch at Shea to Piazza alongside my dad was something special. At a couple of days shy of nine years old I may not have realized it then, but looking back on it now I understand how momentous of an occasion that was.
Seaver is the standard for all Mets players to live up to. For a franchise that has historically been known for its pitching, Seaver was the best of the best. He’s the unquestioned greatest player in the history of the team. He was, as his nickname states, The Franchise.
He was the Rookie of the Year in 1967. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1969, 1973 and 1975. He made 12 All-Star games.
But most of all, he was the cornerstone of the 1969 Miracle Mets that upset the Baltimore Orioles in five games to win the World Series in the franchise’s eighth season of existence.
Seaver was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with 98.8% of votes, the highest percentage ever at the time. That record stood until 2016 when Ken Griffey Jr. received 99.3% of the vote.
Seaver’s a shoo-in for the all-time MLB rotation and an argument can be made for him being the greatest starting pitcher ever.
Universally beloved by Mets fans and respected by baseball fans, the memory of Tom Terrific will live on through fans forever.