I’ve never been a real Mets fan. As a lifelong Yankee, this doesn’t usually happen. But I am a huge Tom Seaver fan. When Seaver won the Rookie of the Year award in 1967 he was the first good thing that happened to the Mets. Yankee fans were not impressed when a team loses 547 games in their first five years.
Seaver was different. An amazing competitor, you knew he was deadly serious every time he took the mound. So did the opposing batters. His lifetime stats tell the story. 311 wins, three Cy Young awards, 12 All-Star appearances. Voted into the Hall of Fame with a then record 98.84% of the vote.
In 1969 Seaver brought the Mets and their fans something unbelievable. A World Series title. The Miracle Mets would never be a laughing stock again – they had a championship under their belt. That year, Seaver went 25-7, leading the National League in wins, and earned his first Cy Young Award. He won his second Cy Young Award in 1973, again leading the Mets to the World Series, where they lost to the Oakland A’s, four games to three.
Seaver was an exceptional athlete who showed that sports are bigger than the games and statistics. He demonstrated how determination and effort led to success. On days that Seaver had his best stuff, the opposing team knew they had no chance. Witness his incredible 61 shutouts, seventh all time, and 231 complete games.
What was perhaps even more impressive was the way he went about a game when he didn’t have his best. He would gut it out with sheer effort, finding a way to win. So, even when he was not at his best, he could still get the job done. Anyone who works needs to learn this lesson. Some days you feel really motivated and “on.” Other days it is sheer drudgery. Seaver taught us you still could, and should, try to win on those challenging days.
Today we heard the sad news Seaver has dementia and will no longer be making public appearances. Especially difficult, as the Mets are planning a fabulous 50th Anniversary celebration of the historic 1969 team. While the team has already announced they will be honoring Seaver in “several ways,” he will not be there to bask in his well-deserved glory. One can only hope somehow, deep inside, he understands how much he is admired and loved.
Several years ago, I heard Seaver had become a big-time wine fan and would bring prestigious bottles of wine to the annual Hall of Fame dinners. Word spread all the Hall of Famers would want to sit at Seaver’s table to drink and hear about the great wines Seaver had provided. I believe Seaver started a real trend, for today many Major League players have gotten into the wine thing.
In November 2013, there was a great photo of Seaver on the cover of Wine Spectator magazine. He looked really happy. Reports said Seaver wanted to get into wine making when he retired and he did, buying a property in the Diamond Mountain area near Calistoga. This is prime Napa Cabernet territory and he has been producing well regarded Cabernet Sauvignon since 2005.
Today’s articles say Seaver will continue to work the vineyard. It seems fitting this incredible person and performer will find a way to have some peace and even serenity in very tough circumstances. Let’s raise a glass to Tom Seaver and applaud the incredible memories, and more, he brought to sports fans everywhere.