History, Pop Culture

Remembering Tom Seaver

Hello, I’m Peter, one of the adult reference librarians and a longtime Mets fan. The late Tom Seaver was an idol to me, my younger brother, and our neighborhood buddies. I knew his name even before I saw my first game at Shea Stadium in 1969. He was viewed as the player making the team respectable after many losing seasons.

I didn’t see him pitch in person until the last game of the 1971 season, Fan Appreciation Night at Shea (I still have my souvenir Mets ski cap.) Seaver pitched a complete game, struck out 13, and won his 20th against the St. Louis Cardinals, with Kenny Singleton homering in his last game as a Met. The only Cardinal regular in the starting lineup was Lou Brock, who passed away on September 6. This was also Gil Hodges’ final game as Mets manager, as he passed away during spring training the following year. My Dad managed to get box seats along the 3rd base line, so we got to see Seaver’s famous “drop-and-drive” delivery up close, dirt-stained right knee and all. I saw him pitch fairly often over the next few years; it was always an event and almost always a complete game. I still recall Karl Ehrhardt, the famous “Sign Man” who always sat in the box seats between home plate and 3rd base, and the “Tom Terrific” signs he held up for every Seaver strike-out and at-bat. Seaver was also the subject of the placard carried by my younger brother for the two Banner Day parades in which we participated (“Seaver Strikes Again”) while mine cheered on Ed Kranepool.

Our hearts were broken when Seaver was traded in June of 1977, and I went with a few of my high school classmates to see his return to Shea Stadium as a member of the Cincinnati Reds to pitch against the Mets and Jerry Koosman in late August of that year. We got to Shea in mid-morning for an afternoon game, and waited with a small crowd by the players’ parking lot for our returning hero. When he pulled up with his wife, Nancy, and emerged from the car, we all shouted out his name and he turned, smiled and waved at us. That afternoon, he pitched a complete game giving up one run and struck out 11, the last one a called 3rd strike to Ron Hodges, to end the game to the cheers of the crowd, who all seemed to be rooting hard for Seaver. He returned to the Mets for one subpar season, before moving on to the White Sox and, finally, the Red Sox, where he sat in the visiting dugout for the Mets’ incredible 1986 World Series win. The Mets tried to bring him back yet again for the following year, but he was unable to overcome the fact that those powerful legs had finally betrayed him at age 42.

He devoted his retirement years to a second career as a broadcaster for both the Mets and Yankees, part-time scout and spring training pitching coach for the Mets, and then to his own very successful GTS Vineyards (for George Thomas Seaver, his given name) on the western rim of his native California’s Napa Valley. The last time I saw Seaver in person was at the Shea Stadium closing ceremony in September, 2008, which I attended with my younger brother. The Mets had just been eliminated from post-season contention in the last game of the season, so the ceremony was especially poignant. The finale was a well-choreographed “last pitch” from Seaver to the recently retired Mike Piazza, after which they both walked off together through the old center field fence gate we had marched through on those old Banner Days. I lost both parents to dementia-related causes, and it was especially sad when Seaver had to withdraw from public appearances due to what turned out to be Lewy body dementia, finally succumbing to that and the effects of COVID on August 31, at age 75.

The library offers a number of titles on Tom Seaver and his time with the Mets on e-book and e-audio book through our Overdrive digital content service provider. Items are available for immediate download, and automatically returned at the end of the loan period. If the item is checked out to someone else you can place a hold on it. The following link will bring you directly to the page containing these items: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/search?query=tom+seaver

Of course, the library also owns a number of books available for check out, and several DVDs that focus on the history of the Mets, including Seaver and his teammates, and the entire 1969 post-season original TV broadcasts.

To sign up for an Overdrive digital services account through the library, you will need to enter the email/username and password connected to your library card, select your home library of Lindenhurst from a drop-down list, and enter your library card bar code. Click here for your library account.  For any other issues that arise, please email the library at info@lindenhurstlibrary.org for help or call the reference desk during business hours.

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