RIP, Tom Terrific
Late Wednesday evening, a friend on Facebook – a Mets fan – asked if I was going to write about Tom Seaver. I had been considering it, but then got busy working on other projects. Still, that’s no excuse for neglecting this blog, and I want to thank her for the little push; I needed it.
When I heard that Seaver died at 75, from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, I was shocked and saddened. First, I didn’t realize he was ill and, second, I couldn’t believe he was 75. It seemed like yesterday that Seaver was in the broadcast booth, barely removed from his Hall of Fame pitching career.
In fact, I don’t remember seeing a photo of Seaver as a senior citizen (although I’m sure there are plenty). In my mind’s eye, he was perpetually youthful.
The Miracle Mets ride their young superstar
I wish I recalled the 1969 World Series, when Seaver, who was then a 24-year-old phenom with the Mets, led New York to one of the greatest upsets in sports history. But I was just 7, and not quite into baseball yet.
I’ve read about it, though, and there’s a good reason that team is called the Amazin’ Mets. Before 1969, New York had never finished with a winning record since being founded as an expansion team in the early 1960s. But in ’69, the Mets vaulted from 73 to 100 wins, with Seaver going 25-7 and earning the Cy Young.
Still, the team they faced in the Series, the Orioles, won 109 games and was a heavy favorite. Baltimore’s roster included future Hall of Famers and other standouts, including Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Davey Johnson and Paul Blair.
But the Mets dispatched Baltimore in five games – winning four straight after losing Game 1 – with key hits, great pitching and highlight reel catches.
There must’ve been something in the air that year. Because earlier in 1969, the New York Jets completed their miracle by upsetting the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.