Tom Veryzer: Former Long Island Born Mets Player (1982)

Thomas Martin Veryzer was born on February 11, 1953, in Port Jefferson, New York. Tom came from a sport-oriented family, his father John Veryzer was a basketball star at Manhattan College in the Bronx in the forties. Also, his older brother played baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization in the early seventies.

The six foot one, right-handed short stop, Tom Veryzer went to Islip high school on Eastern Long Island getting drafted in the first round of the 1971 draft (11th pick overall) by the Detroit Tigers. 

The shortstop had a good glove & impressed right away, getting a big league call up as soon as 1973 after playing at AAA Toledo. He batted a minor league best .296 in 1974 at AAA Evansville, getting called up for good after that season.

MLB Career: In 1973 Tom came up with the Tigers as a September callup, mostly coming in as a pinch hitter or late inning replacement. In the final two games of his season, he made starts in New York playing against the A.L. New York team. 

Trivia: On September 30th, the last day of the 1973 season he drove in the last run at the old A.L. New York teams' old ballpark before it's renovation. In the top of the 8th inning, he singled to left field off Lindy McDaniel bringing home Marv Lane in the 8-4 Tigers win. 

By 1975 Veryzer settled in as the Tigers regular shortstop replacing Ed Brinkman, who had held the position since 1971.
That June he broke up a no hitter with a two out 9th inning double against the Oakland A’s Ken Holtzman. 

Veryzer hit .252 with a career high five HRs & 48 RBIs while also hitting 13 doubles making the Topps All Star Rookie team. Tom was never known for his power & he would never hit more than two HRs again in a season again. On the field he made 24 errors (4th in the league) and put up a league average .960 fielding percentage.

Veryzer was a popular player on a mid-seventies Tigers team in transition that included Mark "the Byrd" Fidrych, Rusty Staub, Ron LeFlore as well as old Tiger veterans Bill Freehan, Mickey Stanley & Willie Horton.

Veryzer was Detroit’s main shortstop for three seasons. By 1977 he improved to being the league’s fourth best defensive short stop although his hitting fell to a measly .198 with 12 doubles & 28 RBIs in 125 games played. 


In 1978 his days in Detroit were over when Allan Trammell arrived for good, as he would be the Tigers main shortstop for the next decade and a half. In the winter of 1978 Veryzer was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Charlie Spikes. 

Veryzer spent four seasons as the Indians main short stop, hitting a career best .271 in both 1978 & again in 1980. In January 1982 he was traded home to the New York area to the Mets for pitcher Ray Searage.


Mets Career: Veryzer loved playing at Shea Stadium being back near Long Island where he grew up although the Mets were still a last place team. For the 1982 Mets, Tom was brought in for his veteran presence after the Mets traded short stop Frank Tavares.  Tom was mainly a backup second baseman (26 games) to Wally Backman & short stop (16 games) to Ron Gardenhire making a few rare starts.
 
On April 5th, he debuted as a late inning defensive replacement in the second game of the year in a 5-0 loss at Wrigley Field. On May 2nd he had three hit game in a 4-3 loss in the first game of a doubleheader at San Francisco.

He had four more multi-hit games that month & hit well enough to hold a .367 average by June. On June 1st, he fractured his fibula when Claudell Washington slid into him at second base in a 7-3 loss to the Braves. He ended up on the DL for three months.

He returned for four games, finishing up playing in 40 games for the season. He batted .333 (18-54) with two doubles, four RBIs & a .362 on base %. At second base he made just two errors in 26 games (.962 %).

In April 1983 the Mets traded him to the Chicago Cubs due to the fact they had too many middle infielders. Tom admitted the trade hurt because he was so close to his home.

Post Mets Career: Veryzer spent two seasons in Chicago backing up Larry Bowa & Ron Cey. He haunted the Mets getting five hits in his first three games against them in the summer of 1983.

In 1983 he batted .205 & then .189 the following year as the Cubs beat out the Mets to win the NL East.

1984 Post Season- NLCS: In the NLCS loss to the San Diego Padres, Tom appeared in three games going 0-1.

Career Stats: In his 12-year career Veryzer played in 996 games, batting .241 with 687 hits, 14 HRs 84 doubles 12 triples & 231 RBIs He struck out 329 times with 143 walks posting a .283 on base % & .577 OPS.

On the field he played 927 games at short, making 140 errors in 927 career games with a .966 fielding %. He also played 30 games at second, 22 games at third & two at DH.

Retirement: After baseball, Tom worked for the Department of Public Works in the town of Islip. He is a member of the Suffold County Sports Hall of Fame.

Family: Tom & his wife Vivian had three children. Vivian worked as a nurse in the Islip school district.

Passing: In 2014, Veryzer suffered a stroke & passed away in July 2014 at age 61 in Islip, Long Island. His remains were cremated.


Comments

Jerry Newport said…


So sorry to hear Tom passed away. I knew all four Veryzer brothers. I played against him in little league. I was a baseball retard so we were in the same division even though I was four years older. He was already a remarkable shortstop. He will be missed. The Veryzers were a great Islip famlly!!

Jerry Newport Islip 1966

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