Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame pitcher who spent most of his career with the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds, has passed away at the age of 75, it was announced. Seaver reportedly passed on Monday, August 31, 2020, of complications from COVID-19 and Lewy body dementia.
Seaver is a legitimate inner-circle Hall of Famer, a pitcher with an argument for being the best live-ball pitcher of all time. His career bWAR of 109.9 is 6th all time, trailing only Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Pete Alexander and Kid Nichols. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 98.8% of the vote in 1992, and the fact five voters didn’t name him on their ballots was considered remarkable. Reportedly, three voters submitted blank ballots as a protest over Pete Rose being ineligible, one voter said he never voted for anyone on the first ballot, and the fifth voter said he overlooked him when he filled out his ballot right after having surgery.
Seaver broke in as a 22 year old with the New York Mets in 1967 and was immediately impressive, putting up a 2.76 ERA in 251 IP over 34 starts and a relief appearance, winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award and making the National League All Star team. He won his first Cy Young Award in 1969, the year the Miracle Mets won the World Series behind its dynamic young pitching staff, with Seaver leading the way, winning 25 game and recording a 2.21 ERA. Seaver finished second in the MVP voting to Willie McCovey.
Seaver would win the Cy Young Award again in 1973 — when the Mets went to the World Series a second time — and in 1975. Seaver, a homegrown ace, would have seemed like the type of player who would spend his entire career with the Mets, but he was targeted by New York Daily News columnist Dick Young (widely considered a mouthpiece for Mets owner M. Donald Grant) in 1977. Young’s relentless attacks on Seaver culminated in a column that suggested Seaver was jealous of former teammate Nolan Ryan, who had cashed in big in free agency with the California Angels. Seaver reportedly had agreed to a contract extension with the Mets the night before that column ran, upon seeing Young’s latest broadside, he no longer would sign with the Mets and demanded a trade.
New York sent him to the Cincinnati Reds for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry in June, 1977, and Seaver spent the next five and a half years pitching for the Reds. Despite being in his mid-30s, he had several solid seasons for Cincy, finishing 4th in the Cy Young balloting in 1979 and second in 1981.
Seaver went back to the Mets in 1983, then pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1984-86 before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in June, 1986. Seaver retired after the 1986 season with a career 311-205 record and a 2.86 ERA.