Former Long Island Born Mets Player: Tom Veryzer (1982-1983)

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.

He came up briefly in the 1973 & 1974 seasons with the Tigers getting his second big league start, in New York playing against the A.L. New York team at the end of the ’73 season. On the last day of the 1973 season he drove in the last run at the old A.L. New York teams ballpark before it's renovation when he singled off Lindy McDaniel. By 1975 he settled in as the Tigers regular shortstop replacing Ed Brinkman, who had the position since 1971.

Veryzer hit .252 with a career high five HRs & 48 RBIs while also hitting 13 doubles making the Topps All Star Rookie team. Never known for his power, he would never hit more than two HRs in a season again.

On the field he made 24 errors (4th in the league) and put up a league average .960 fielding percentage. In June he broke up a no hitter with a two out 9th inning double against the Oakland A’s Ken Holtzman. 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 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. His hitting got worse dropping to a measly .198 in 1977 with 12 doubles & 28 RBIs in 125 games played. 

In 1978 his days in Detroit were over when Allan Trammell arrived for good, 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. He spent four seasons as the Indians main short stop, hitting a career best .271 twice in both 1978 & again in 1980.

In January 1982 he was traded home to the New York Mets for pitcher Ray Searage.

Veryzer loved playing at Shea Stadium being back near Long Island where he grew up. He debuted as alte inning defensive replacement in the second game of the year at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He was mainly a back up second baseman & short stop for the ’82 Mets, getting a few rare starts. On May 2nd he had three hits in the first game of a doubleheader at San Francisco.

He hit well enough to hold a .367 average after a good May until he fractured his leg in June. He ended up on the DL all the way into September, finishing up playing in 40 games for the season. He batted .333 (18-54) with two doubles, four RBIs & a .362 on base %. He played better at second base than he did at short, making just two errors in 26 games (.962 %).

The Mets traded him to the Chicago Cubs in April of 1983 where he spent two seasons batting under .205 as a part time player. He haunted the Mets getting five hits in his first three games against them that summer. 

He made his only post season appearance in his final season, with the 1984 Chicago Cubs going 0-1 in the NLCS against the San Diego Padres.

In his 12 year career Veryzer played in 996 games and hit .241 with 687 hits, 14 HRs 84 doubles 12 triples 143 walks 231 RBIs & a .283 on base %. On the field he made 140 errors in 927 career games with a .966 fielding %.

Passing: Tom passed away in Islip Long Island, in July 2014, after suffering a stroke, he was 61 years old. Tom was survived by his wife & three children.


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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