Nov 17, 2018

Mets Hall of Fame Pitcher: Tom Seaver (Part Two)- the Seventies

As Tom Seaver entered the seventies he only seemed to get better. After a rough Opening day start he went on to begin the year at 6-0. 

On April 22nd 1970 (the first recognized Earth Day) Seaver received his Cy Young Award at a pre game ceremony at Shea Stadium. He went out & took the mound making baseball history as he tied an MLB record by striking out 19 San Diego Padres. He also set a record by striking out the final ten batters of the game, while retiring the last 16 in a row. On the day he only allowed one run on two hits while walking two batters.

On May 15th in Philadelphia, Seaver had another spectacular day. He tossed his second career one hitter, as he struck out 15 Phillies. This time the only hit came in third inning off a forgotten player named Mike Compton. He bested his record to 7-1 after a 6-0 start.

In June he began another great stretch winning nine straight decisions, going two full months without taking a loss. In that stretch he threw 10 complete games, tossed three separate three hitters & one shut out. He got to start the 1970 All Star Game in Cincinnati for his manager Gil Hodges, pitching three shut out innings, striking out four while only allowing one hit.

 The rest of the year didn’t go as well as 1969; the Mets & Seaver both struggled as he lost six of his last seven decisions. He finished the year at 18-12 leading the league in strikeouts (283) & ERA (2.82). He pitched 290 innings with 19 complete games & two shut outs.

Quotes: One of the most famous quotes about Seaver is comes from Pete Rose, who once said: "Blind men come to the park just to hear him pitch”.

In 1971 Seaver earned the victory on Opening Day, although he only pitched five innings. In his second start he threw nine shutout innings but got no decision. He threw a three hit shutout in his next start against Pittsburgh at Shea Stadium & began the year at 4-0. 

By the end of June he was 10-3 with a 2.03 ERA, but then he lost four straight. He made the All Star team but did not pitch in the 1971 classic. By this time he already had five multiple strike out games & allowed one run or less seven times. After the break he got even better, striking out 10 or more batters eight more times on his way to a league leading, career best 289 strikeout seasons.

From August through the end of the season he was 9-2, with ten complete games; including a two hit shutout in Montreal, striking out 12 Expos. On Sunday September 24th Seaver took the mound against the eventual World Champion Pirates & once again flirted with a no hitter. It wasn’t until the 7th inning when Vic Davillio singled breaking up the no hitter. Seaver struck out 10 & walked one earning his 19th victory. He finished the year off with his 20th win four days later against the Cardinals.

He wrapped up 1971 with a 20-10 record, leading the league in strike outs posting a career high 289. He also posted his career best ERA leading the league at 1.76. He was runner up to the Cy Young Award, pitching a career high 21 complete games with four shutouts in 286 innings. The Mets finished third 14 games out.

Seaver’s hitting cannot be left out, as he was a fine hitting pitcher. He hit a HR every year from 1970-1973, including three in 1972. He posted 10 RBIs in 1970, with 17 hits good for a .179 average. In 1971 he had career highs in average (.198) hits (18) & doubles (3) driving in seven runs. 

He had at least three runs batted in every season he pitched in New York in the seventies. He hit over .100 every year he played with the Mets except for 1974 when he hit .099 & 1976 batting .085.

During Spring Training 1972 Gil Hodges suffered a fatal heart attack just before the start of the season. The team was devastated, Seaver remarked “Gil is here inside each man, & will be here all season. The man made a terrific impact on the whole ball club.” Seaver then went out & won on Opening Day, after Hodges was honored in a pre game ceremony retiring his number.

He started out the year again at 4-0, then after a loss won three more straight games. On the 4th of July he pitched another memorable game for the Shea fans. He struck out 11 Padres and had a no hitter going into the 9th inning. This time it was Leron Lee who spoiled it, as Seaver went onto toss his fourth career one hitter, besting his record to 10-4 with an ERA under two.

The rest of the way he was 10-8 putting in a strong September finish winning his last four games. He struck out 15 Pirates on September 20th at Shea, the nine days later in Pittsburgh; he struck out 13 more Pirates while tossing a two hit shutout. 

He finished the year 21-12 (second most wins in the NL) striking out 249 batters (also second in the NL) with a 2.92 ERA, 13 complete games with three shutouts in 262 innings pitched. It was the first time in four years he did not lead the league in any major pitching category. Seaver still had the best strikeout per nine innings ratio in the league, for the third straight year.

In 1973 Seaver began the year with a five hit shut out on Opening Day against the Phillies & winning his second start in St. Louis. He took two losses following that & then won his next five starts, all complete games, only allowing more than two runs (3) one time.

 He started out June winning the NL Pitcher of the Week Award. At the All star break he was 11-5 with a 2.02 ERA among the top in strikeouts as well. In the All Star Game he pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning in the NL’s 7-1 victory.

He won 6 of 7 decisions from July to mid August before losing two straight, including a two run 12 innings no decision performance against the Reds. He also tossed his second two hitter of the year, that August in San Diego. In early September, Seaver beat the Phillies twice, both times pitching complete games. The second win was an 11 inning performance, in those two games he allowed only three runs in 20 innings striking out 25 batters. In the September pennant run he was 4-2, and pitched won two of the biggest games in the race toward the end of the season.

On September 21st he beat the Pirates at Shea putting the Mets into first place, & then on October 1st he beat the Cubs on a rainy cold Wrigley Field to clinch the NL East. He pitched six innings before running out of gas in the 6-4 Mets win, as Tug McGraw closed out the season with the win.

He finished the year winning his second Cy Young Award while leading the league in ERA (2.08) strike outs (251) & complete games (18). He went 19-10 (2nd most wins in the NL) with 3 shut outs in 290 innings pitched (3rd in the NL).

Post Season: In the 1973 NLCS opener Seaver got the ball on only four days rest. He pitched a fine game making only one mistake that cost him, as Johnny Bench hit a walk off HR in the bottom of the 9th for the 2-1 win. Seaver had set a NLCS record by striking out 13 batters in the 2 run, six hit performance. 

He came back to Shea to pitch the final Game #5 with everything on the line. Tom Terrific was masterful again, shutting down the Big Red Machine, allowing only two runs on seven hits while striking out four. Tug McGraw saved it in the 9th and the Mets clinched the pennant and were on to the World Series.

In the World Series Tom pitched Game 3, the first game of the Series at Shea Stadium. The stage was set for a classic, in a pitching matchup against Hall of Famer Jim Catfish Hunter. Both were tough & in the end neither pitcher got a decision in the eleven inning Oakland win. Seaver pitched 8 innings as his fastball was impressive to the national TV audience, as he struck out 12 A’s, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out the side twice, including five of the first six batters he faced & had at least one strikeout in all but the 3rd inning.

On just three days rest he was called on by manager Yogi Berra to pitch Game #6. This was a controversial decision, since George Stone (14-4 on the regular season) had not started a game in the whole Series. 

In Berra’s defense Seaver as the best pitcher in baseball, but he had to be a bit tired having thrown over 300 innings up to this point. Seaver struggled a bit not having his best stuff, but he pitched with all his heart in the 3-1 Mets loss.

He only allowed three runs on six hits with six strikeouts in seven innings. The Mets bats didn’t help him at all, as Catfish Hunter& Rollie Fingers shut them down. He was praised by Series MVP Reggie Jackson after the game, saying Sever didn’t have any stuff like he had in New York the other night. He gave his team all he had by pitching on heart. Jackson said “I have all the respect in the World for Tom Seaver”.

From 1970 through 1974 he had the best strike out per nine inning ratio in the league every season. As the NL Champion Mets entered 1974 things were promising. The staff was one of baseballs best anchored by Seaver, then followed by the two lefties Jerry Koosman & Jon Matlack.The staff was mentored by long time Mets pitching coach Rube Walker. 

Seaver got no decision on Opening day and then a bad back began to affect his pitching mechanics. He didn’t get his first win until the end of April & by the middle of June the reigning Cy Young winner was 3-6 with a 3.60 ERA & the Mets were in the cellar, eight games back. It was the first time he did make the All Star Game since he entered the big leagues.

Things got a bit better as he won four in a row in July & then again at the end of August to mid September. The back issues kept coming back & the Mets fell to 5th place finish. Seaver posted his worst record to date 11-11 & it was the first time his ERA was over three (3.20). He still struck out 201 batters pitched 230 innings with 12 complete games & five shutouts. His strikeout to walk ratio was also tops in the league for the second straight year.

Seaver won on Opening Day 1975, but still started out the year at 3-3. It wasn’t until June when Tom Terrific returned to top form. He sure rebounded when he was healthy again as his mechanics returned to give him his perfect delivery motion. 

He was the Player of the Week in early June & won the Pitcher of the Month Award as well. From the end of May to mid July he was 8-0 throwing two shut outs & five complete games. He went to his 8th All Star game with a 13-5 record and a 1.93 ERA. In the All Star game he blew a 3-0 NL lead by allowing a 3 run HR to Carl Yastrzemski in the 6th inning. The NL rallied & fellow Met Jon Matlack went on to earn the win & the co MVP Award.

On August 7th, Seaver pitched a three hit shutout against the Expos at Shea & went on a roll from there. He went on to win seven straight, throwing two more shut outs along the way, with two ten strike out performances. The Mets were 73-66 only five games out in early September but faded down the stretch, Seaver was 1-2 with two no decisions in that time.

For 1975 Seaver led the league in victories going 22-9 with a .719 winning %, he once again led in strikeouts (251) while setting a record as being the only pitcher to have eight straight 200 plus strikeout seasons. He posted a 2.38 ERA (3rd in the league) pitched 280 innings (3rd in the NL) walking only 88 batters had 15 complete games with three shut outs. He only walked 88 batters, threw five shutouts and pitched 15 more complete games.

For the start of the 1976 bicentennial year, Seaver beat the Expos on Opening Day with a five hit one run performance. He began the year at 4-0 after two complete game wins at the end of April. Things were up & down the rest of the way for him going into the break at 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA. He relieved Randy Jones in the 4th inning of the All Star Game in Philadelphia, allowing a run over two innings. 

It was another off year in the wins department for Seaver, as his final record was 14-11 but he led the league in strikeouts (235) for the fifth time, striking out over 200 batters for a record 10th season. He also posted the league’s third best ERA at 2.59, threw five shutouts with 15 complete games & 280 innings pitched.

In 1977 Seaver & the Mets were in obvious turmoil. He began the year on the mound great once again, winning the Player of the Week & Pitcher of the Month Awards. He beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Opening Day, and then threw a five hit shutout at Shea beating the Cardinals. 

On April 17th at Shea Stadium, Seaver threw his fifth career one hitter, beating the Cubs, striking out six & walking four. He finished the month with a one run complete game performance against the Padres going to 4-0 lowering his ERA to 1.52.

The contact turmoils & media hounding affected him in May as he went 0-3, although the Mets bats were also dead as the team was falling apart. In June with the trade becoming inevitable, Seaver won his final three Mets starts as a Met. He beat his future team the Reds on June 7th, throwing a five hit shutout striking out ten. 

His last outing was at the Astrodome beating Houston 3-1 in another five hit performance. His former roomate Bud Harrelson was the only Met in the line up from the 1969 Championship team & John Milner the only survivor from the ’73 NL Champion team. He was 7-3 with an ERA of 3.00 for the ’77 Mets, before being traded on July 15th, one of the worst days in Mets history.


The fans were furious when Seaver was traded, not only that but the team was in last place already 13 games out. Attendance plummeted, and Shea Stadium earned the nickname "Grant's Tomb." It was a horrible point in Mets history, especially after the glory years & what looked like
a bright future after 1973. Seaver returned to New York on August 22nd, as a huge came out to welcome him home.

It was so strange to see him in another uniform on the mound he called his office for so many years. That night he beat the Mets 5-1 striking out 11, as his long time former team mate Ed Kranepool drove in the only run. Bud Harrelson, Lee Mazzilli & Steve Henderson were the only other Mets to get hits that night. He went to his 10th All Star Game pitching two innings allowing two runs. The rest of 1977 Seaver was 14-2 behind a strong Big Red Machine lineup giving him runs support. He posted a 21-6 overall record (second most wins in the NL) posting a 2.58 ERA (also second) with 196 strikeouts in 260 innings pitched.

After having thrown five one-hitters for New York, including three no-hitters that were broken up in the 9th inning, one year to the day he arrived in Cincinnati he pitched his first no hitter. It came at Riverfront Stadium on June 16 against the Cardinals. That day Don Werner was behind the plate in place of Johnny Bench, Werner only caught 118 career games. 

Seaver never won games again, & by the time he got to Riverfront Stadium the Big Red Machine had their best days behind him. He got to the post season in 1979 but lost to the eventual Champion Pirates.

By the late seventies the Dodgers became the main force in the National League. In 1978 Seaver won 16 games (16-14) posting his last 200 plus strike out season (226) & his last season of posting an ERA under three (2.54). In 1979 he was 16-6 with a 3.14 ERA, getting no decision in the NLCS.

Seaver also began his broadcasting career in 1977 when he joined Howard Cosell & Keith Jackson on ABC Sports for the World Series. The following year he covered the World Series again this time with Joe Garagiola & Tony Kubek on NBC Sports coverage.

Remembering "The Midnight Massacre" - The Tom Seaver Trade 1977

Background: The New York Mets were at a bad time in team history at the time of the Tom Seaver Trade. The clubs beloved owner Mrs. Joan Payson had passed away in 1975. Her husband Charles Shipman had no interest in baseball, so their daughter; Lorinda deRoulet took charge of the team. Roulet didn't know about baseball and let the teams Chairman- M. Donald Grant make all the calls.

Grant was a longtime friend of Payson. Together they served on the board of the New York Giants baseball club in the 1950's. Grant had been with the Mets since the beginning, but his baseball knowledge had already been questioned in the past.

He was a longtime stockbroker who didn't like spending money. He refused give in to the new era of baseball free agency. On top of that he was trading off his top players, instead of paying them the higher salaries of the day. He was out spoken against free agency at that winters owners meetings and was running the Mets organization into the ground.

In 1977 Tom Seaver was already a Mets legend and the most successful player in the teams brief 15 year history. He was known as "The Franchise", was one of baseballs top pitchers & already destined for the Hall of Fame.

At the end of the 1975 season, after winning his third Cy Young Award, he had negotiated a new contract worth $675,000, making him baseballs highest paid pitcher.

But by the end of 1976 free agency was making players sign deals worth a million dollars. His friend & former team mate Nolan Ryan wasn't eligible for free agency until 1979, but California Angels owner Gene Autry, gave Ryan a $300,000 a year in advance.

In New York, Tom Seaver attempted to renegotiate his contract but the meetings didn't go well. Seaver was also the Mets Union Player Rep at the time. He was outspoken in Spring Training, about the Mets not going after any top free agents. They were a big market team, they were still drawing well and certainly had the money. They needed hitting and a high caliber outfielder badly. Actually they needed big hitter for years.

Seaver stressed the Mets go after the Giants Gary Mathews who fit their needs perfectly. "How could they not even try" Seaver said in disgust. Mathews ended up getting $1.2 million from the small market Atlanta Braves.

Rumors that Mets G.M. Joe McDonald, was in trade talks about sending Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds swept the city by early June. Daily News Reporter Jack Lang, told Seaver to talk with Mets owner Mrs. deRoulet instead of Chairman M. Donald Grant. Seaver did & made progress.

On June 14th,1977 she & Seaver worked out a deal over the phone. Seaver would get his contract extended three years, earning $1.1 million. $300,000 the first year & $400,000 each of the next two years. Seaver told Mets G.M. Joe McDonald to stop the trade talks with Cincinnati.

The next day, Daily News reporter Dick Young's column outraged Seaver, it was the straw that broke the camels back. It read: "Nolan Ryan is now getting more money than Seaver and that galls Tom, because his wife Nancy and Nolan's wife Ruth are very friendly and Tom has long treated Ryan like a little brother."

Seaver was furious, he immediately called Mets PR director and said "Get me out of here, do you hear me?" The deal was off, he would not allow his wife to get dragged into the mess.

Grant was getting sole support in the press by Dick Young of the Daily News. His son in law; Thorton Geary, was recently hired by M. Donald Grant as Mets V.P. of Communications. Dick Young sided with Mets management and wrote that Seaver was being greedy & selfish with his demands. But Seaver had the support of everyone else in the media, especially his friend Jack Lang, the Mets beat writer, also of the NY Daily News. Dick Young encouraged Lang to write what he felt, knowing the rivalry would sell more papers.

G.M. Joe McDonald completed the trade with the Reds - Seaver went to Cincinnati for four young players: pitcher Pat Zachry, second baseman Doug Flynn and outfielders Steve Henderson and Dan Norman.

The deal was not announced until after the Mets' Sunday night game with the Braves in Atlanta, by which time Seaver had already flown home to New York. Seaver, spoke in a sad press conference the next day where he broke down in tears when asked if he'll miss the fans.

It was the one of the worst days in Mets history and led to the teams darkest period. To make matters worse, they traded slugger Dave Kingman, the teams only power hitter the same night.

The Mets would finish last in 1977 and would lose 95 or more games in each of the next three seasons. Attendance plummeted and Shea Stadium became known as "Grants Tomb" in honor of the Chairman.

Quotes: In 2007 Seaver said; "There are two things Grant said to me that I'll never forget, but illustrate the kind of person he was,". During the labor negotiations, he said: 'What are you, some sort of Communist?' Another time, he said : 'Who do you think you are, joining the Greenwich Country Club?'

As for M. Donald Grant - He was forced out of the organization the next year. He told reporters he "was tired of being kicked around" insisting, "I'm a good guy. The press made such a martyr of Seaver that it killed me." The miserable Grant, lived until the age of 94.

Daily News writer Dick Young, was forever hated by Met fans. The next month he was booed on his induction into the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame. Eventually his own greed, led him to switch to the rival New York Post paper in 1981. Yes, for more money. Young was very sick as the Mets won the 1986 World Series & died in 1987 at age of 69.

Reorter Jack Lang was the Mets beat writer until 1985 and helped co author a few different Mets books. He retired from the press in 1989 & was inducted into the writers wing of the Hall of Fame in 1987. Jack Lang passed away in 2007 at age 85, from liver disease in Huntington, Long Island.

Quotes: At the time of his passing Tom Seaver called him " a dear friend" .

Joe McDonald was replaced as the G.M. in 1980 by Frank Cashen. This was when Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon bought the team. McDonald later worked as G.M. for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Thornton Geary was involved in negotiating the first Cablevision deal for the Mets. He left the club in 1981 and is now retired in North Carolina.

The Big Red Machine were reigning two time World Champions at the time they got Tom Seaver. It seemed Seaver would keep them on top for the next few years or more. Instead, the Dodgers took over as the NL West Champions & won the next two pennants. Seaver would get to just one post season with Reds; losing in the NLCS to the eventual 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Seaver put up good numbers with the Reds but nothing like his days in New York. Upon his arrival he was still in his prime going 14-3. Overall in 1977 he was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA & 196 strike outs. It was the first time in nine years he did not strike out 200 or more batters (an MLB record). He was a two time 16 game winner (1978-1979) & led the league in winning % (.875%) in the strike shortened 1981 season where he was 14-2.

Nov 16, 2018

Mets Hall of Fame Pitcher: Tom Seaver (Part One)- the Sixties

George Thomas Seaver was born November 17, 1944 in Fresno, California. His father was an executive at a company that distributed raisins all over Aerica & his mother a home maker. Seaver was a star All City basketball player in high school and a pitcher on the baseball team. The schools star pitcher was Dick Selma who would later join Seaver as a member of the Mets.

After high school he went to Fresno City College and worked in the raisin trade, also joining the Marine Corps Reserves. He was beginning to get noticed as a pitcher, and USC baseball coach the legendary Rod Dedeaux wanted Seaver to join the Trojans in his junior year. He was sent to Fairbanks Alaska to earn his scholarship; making USC the next year going 10-2.

There he was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a first round pick. But MLB rules prohibit a player from being signed during a College baseball season, although Seaver hadn’t pitched yet for the 1966 season, Commissioner William Eckert voided the contract. He stated that any team who matched the Braves $51,500 offer could qualify for a lottery to win Seavers services. The Indians, Phillies & New York Mets all made offers, luckily for the Mets they were the winners.

In 1966 he pitched for Mets top farm club, the Jacksonville Suns going 12-12 with 188 strikeouts. Manager Solly Hemus insisted Seaver was ready for the majors right away as did rival minor league manager Earl Weaver. Weaver told his Orioles bosses that Seaver was worth trading for, giving up whatever they had to, to get him. He spent only the one season in the International League with Jacksonville where he won a championship with future Mets team mate & Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan on the same staff.

Seaver & Ryan formed a friendship that would last through their lives. They both married their high school sweethearts that same year and the wives became close friends as well. Tom & Nancy Seaver were married on June 6th 1966, a marriage that would last a lifetime. They became a popular young New York couple as Seaver became a star in the Big Apple. He was the good looking star athlete with his pretty blonde wife, enjoying all New York had to offer. They were not wild party goers but they enjoyed the museums, restaurants & art Manhattan had to offer. They socialized with the Ryan’s but the Ryan’s were not big city people, & Nolan would never adjust to New York City. Tom & Nancy would eventually have two daughters & move to nearby Greenwich Connecticut.

Tom Seaver was a highly touted rookie with alot of excitement built around his major league debut in 1967. On Opening Day Don Cardwell got the start taking a 6-3 loss to the Pirates. Seaver made his debut on the April 13th 1967 on the second game of the season going up against Pittsburgh’s Woodie Fryman. He pitched well, getting no decision while allowing 2 runs on six hits, striking out batters exiting in the 6th inning during a 2-2 tie.

He got his first win, in his next outing beating the Cubs. Tom went into the 8th inning allowing only one run, on eight hits while striking out five. In his next outing he beat the Cubs again in Chicago, this time allowing one run on four hits, in ten innings pitched. He settled in to his own pitching style and by the All Star break he was 8-5 with a 2.65 ERA amongst the best in the league. He was chosen to represent the Mets at the 1967 ALL star Game, held in Anaheim California. When the young Seaver arrived in the NL clubhouse, Lou Brock told him to get him a beer, thinking he was a club house attendant. Seaver came into the game in the bottom of the 15th inning just as the NL had taken a 2-1 lead. First Seaver got Tony Conigliaro to fly out, and then he walked Carl Yastrzemski. Seaver bore down, retired Detroit’s Bill Freehan & then Ken Berry earning the save for the National League.

He won four of six decisions after the break, having his first game where he struck out 10 or more batters on July 19th. That night he set down 12 Astros at Shea Stadium, as the Mets won the game 7-2. He struggled in August, before finishing off strong in September. He won four straight games, pitching three complete games along the way. In his last victory of the year he tossed a three hit shutout against the Astros at Shea Stadium. Tom finished off the year winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award having the best season of any Met in their short six year history. Seaver was 16- 13 with 170 strikeouts in 251 innings pitched. He posted a 2.76 ERA with 2 shut outs & 18 complete games, all Mets records at the time.

In 1968 he struggled to get wins early on, even though he pitched well. In his second start of the year he pitched 10 shutout innings, only giving up two hits at the Astro dome, but got no decision. He would get his first win of the ’68 season beating the Dodgers at Shea Stadium on April 20th. He pitched another 10 inning no decision in St. Louis then an 11 inning no decision at Shea, allowing only three runs vs. the Pirates.

He was 2-5 with three no decisions into May, but as June began things turned around. He went 14-7 the rest of the way, having a great month of June where he was 5-0. He threw three shut outs on the road including a ten inning four hit performance at Dodger Stadium on June 10th. He would have another four game win streak in August, & post five more double digit strike out games. On September 25th he threw a three hit shutout in Atlanta, finishing the year winning 16 games again (16-7) and striking out 205 batters (6th in the league) for the first of what would be a record nine straight seasons. He posted a 2.20 ERA (7TH in the NL) while throwing five shut outs & 14 complete games in 278 innings pitched (5th in the league).

In 1969, Seaver actually started the season 0-2 and didn’t record his first win until the end of April. From that point on he was out right spectacular, becoming the Mets first true superstar and the best pitcher in baseball. In May he went 6-1, winning five straight decisions, throwing four complete games, including a three hit shutout at Atlanta. From June to early July he won seven straight decisions, with a 14 strikeout performance against the Padres on June 8th.

This led to the classic night, of July 9th, where Seaver pitched what is now known as “the imperfect game”. That night, has become one of the most famous in Mets history, as they became true contenders battling the first place Cubs, during an early pennant race.

Before a crowd of over 50,000 at Shea Stadium, Seaver threw 8 1/3 perfect innings striking out 11 Cub batters. Then, rookie, outfielder Jimmy Qualls stepped in as a pinch hitter & lined a clean single to left field, breaking up the perfect game. He retired the next two batters to complete the 4-0 one-hit shutout. That night Seaver said he felt he could do no wrong, no matter where he wanted to throw a pitch, that’s where it went. He had phenomenal control with all his pitches working sharply. As for Qualls when he came to bat, Seaver wasn’t sure how to pitch him, because the team had no scouting reports on the rookie. The win brought the Mets to within 3 ½ games of first place, proving to everyone, they were for real.

After the July 9th game, Seaver struggled a bit losing four of his next five starts. At the All Star break he was 14-5 with a 2.59 ERA on his way to his second Mid Summer Classic. He did not pitch in that game but watched his team mate Jerry Koosman throw 1.2 scoreless innings in the NL’s 9-3 victory.

As the summer & the pennant race heated up so did Tom Terrific, from August 8th until the end of the season he won every decision going an incredible 10-0. He threw eight complete games which was every start he made from August 26th through the end of the season.

In seven of those outings he allowed only five hits or less. The Padres came to town and got blanked on a four hitter, in San Francisco he blanked the Giants on seven hits striking out 11 & in Montreal he shut out the Expos on a five hitter. In his final game of the regular season, he three hit the Phillies in another shut out in Philadelphia.

When the year ended he was named the N.L. Cy Young Award winner& the Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year". He led the league with 25 victories (25-7) with a .781 winning %. He struck out 208 batters (10th in the league) posting a 2.20 ERA (4th best in the league) pitching in 273 innings, with five shutouts (6th in the league) & 18 complete games.

Post Season: In the 1969 NLCS Seaver opened the Series in Atlanta, pitching seven innings earning the win. It was not his best performance as he allowed five runs on seven hits, walking four & striking out only four. But the Mets bats supported him with nine runs as he rolled to the Mets first post season victory.

In the 1969 World Series, Seaver was the Mets starter for the Game #1 opener at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. He allowed a leadoff HR to Don Buford and was out dueled by Mike Cueller as he took the 4-1 loss. It was the only post season game the Mets would lose in 1969.

Seaver came back to pitch Game #4 at Shea Stadium and this time, Tom Terrific was brilliant in a ten inning outing. He allowed only one run on five hits, striking out six Orioles while only walking two. He began to tire in the ninth inning, putting runners on first & third with Brooks Robinson at bat. Brooks hit a screaming liner to right field and then Ron Swoboda dove making his famous spectacular game saving catch. In the bottom of the 10th inning it was J.C. Martin’s controversial bunt single that scored Rod Gaspar from second base that sealed the win for Seaver & the Mets.

Seaver closed out the 1960’s on top of the baseball world, earning the name Tom Terrific & The Franchise. His stats over the three year period in which he pitched were incredible. He was 57-32 with 583 strikeouts & a 2.35 ERA, tossing 12 shutouts & 50 complete games.

Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher & Tom Seaver's Childhood Friend: Dick Selma (1965-1968)

Richard Jay Selma was born on November 4, 1943 in Santa Anna California. He grew up pitching in local California little league against his friend Tom Seaver. Selma actually reached the high school varsity squad before Mr. Seaver did.

The five foot eleven, right handed Selma attended Fresno State University getting signed by the New York Mets in 1963. He won 12 games in his first year at A ball Salinas, then followed up with two nine win seasons going through the ranks of the minor leagues.

At the age of 21, just two years after being signed, he made the '65 Mets as a September call up.

Selma debuted on September 5, 1965, in a start at St. Louis against the Cardinals. He allowed three runs on six hits over five innings, earning the victory. In his second start he pitched a 1-0, ten inning shutout against the Milwaukee Braves, striking out 13 batters. In four games that month he went 2-1 striking out 26 batters in 26 innings.

In 1966 he was the clubs starter for the third game of the season, as he earned no decision in the Mets 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves. In his next start he was knocked out in the third inning & then was moved into the bull pen. He was 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA at the end of May after earning two relief victories.

He was put back into the rotation & suffered a five game losing streak. He was back in the bullpen in September finishing off the season at 4-6 with one save, a 4.24 ERA, 58 strike outs & 39 walks in 80 inningsin 30 games.

In 1967 he began the year at AAA Jacksonville going 2-3 with a 3.27 ERA getting called up in June. When he arrived he was reunited with his childhood friend Tom Seaver. Seaver was the 1967 Rookie of the Year, going 16-13 dazzling NL hitters with his fastball. As for Selma, he was used as both a starter & reliever going 2-with two saves, while posting a 2.77 ERA.

In 1968 Selma got himself back into the starting rotation by May, starting 23 of the 33 games he pitched that season. In his first start Selma pitched into the 9th inning, allowing two runs earning a 7-3 win over the Cubs. In his next start he tossed a five hit shutout at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

He came home & pitched another complete game beating the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. He went 6-0, topping off his win streak with another five hit shutout, this time beating the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

In July he pitched into the 7th inning six straight times, but only got one victory despite yielding more than one earned run in five of those outings. On the year, a lack of offense & losing seven of his last eight decisions finished his year at 9-10 despite a good 2.76 ERA.

On August 27th he pitched a six hit shutout against the reigning World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who were on their way to a second straight pennant. He pitched three shutouts and struck out 117 batters in 169 innings that season walking 54.

The Mets lost him in the 1968 expansion draft when the San Diego Padres selected him as their fifth pick. In 1969 he made San Diego Padre history getting the start in the first Padre's game. He struck out twelve Houston Astros in San Diego, earning the franchise's first win, while pitching a complete game.

Strangely he was traded to the Chicago Cubs after only four games, in exchange for pitcher Joe Neikro. At Wrigley Field in Chicago he became popular for leading cheers with the Bleacher Bums from the Cubs bullpen. Selma went 10-8 for the second place Cubs that year, that were defeated by the Amazing Mets.

On May 4th he lost a 3-2 heart breaker to Tug McGraw (who pitched a complete game) when a wild pitch scored Ron Swoboda in turned out to be the winning run. In the first game of a double header that day, his friend Tom Seaver beat Bill Hands 3-2 as well. On July 15th he lost a 5-4 game to Gary Gentry as the Mets pulled within five games of the first place Cubs. That season Selma also served up Pete Rose's 1000th hit.

Selma was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Oscar Gamble at the end of the season in exchange for Johnny Calison. In 1970 he became a quality closer, posting 22 saves (5th best in the NL) and setting a record with 173 strikeouts for a relief pitcher. He spent four years in the Phillies, never saving more than three games in a season again.

In a a famous club incident at Newark airport in 1972, he was knocked out by a traveling Phillies secretary who was a former minor league hockey player. Selma who was notorious for ragging on people, landed on the luggage carousel unconscious.

In 1974 he pitched for both the California Angels & Milwaukee Brewers in his final season. In a ten year pitching career he was 42-54 with 31 saves, 681 strike outs & 381 walks in 840 innings pitched while posting a 3.62 ERA in 307 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he took a night job at Flemming Foods in Fresno, California. In the daytime he coached both college & high school baseball. In 2001 he passed away from liver cancer at the age of 57.