Nov 17, 2020

Tom Seaver (Part Two)- the Early Seventies (1970-1972)

After the Championship-1970: The Mets raised the World Championship banner at Shea Stadium on April 7th 1970. Tom Seaver took the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates on this Opening Day. Although he did not get the win, the Mets won the game 5-3. 

On April 12th, in St. Louis, he earned his first win of 1970, beating Steve Carlton (still with the Cardinals) 6-4.Seaver collected a pair of hits off Carlton & drove in three runs.

On April 17th, he pitched his first shut out of the year, a 2-0
victory over the Phillies at Shea Stadium where he struck out eight.

Record Setting Day: 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 April 26th he beat the Dodgers at Shea Stadium allowing just one earned run, ten days later he beat them in L.A to earn his sixth straight win of the year. Before that he struck out ten Padres in San Diego for win #5. 

By early May, he was 6-0 posting a 2.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts. The Expos handed him his first loss of the year, as Dan McGinn shut out New York 3-0. 


Second Career One Hitter: On May 15th in Philadelphia, Seaver had another spectacular day. He tossed his second career one hitter, as he struck out 15 Phillies. He shut out the Phils for the second time on the young season. This time the only hit in the game, came in third inning, off the bat of a forgotten player, named Mike Compton. Seaver bested his record to 7-1, as his K totals soared.

But even the best players struggle, from May 20th to June 4th, he took four straight losses. The worst outing being May 29th, when the Astros toughed him up for five earned runs.

On June 9th, he beat Tom Griffin & the Astros in a 2-1 close game. This began another great super stretch, where he would win nine straight decisions, going two full months without taking a loss. In that stretch he threw 11 complete games in 12 starts. In the only non complete game he pitched eight innings, taking a no decision. Overall he tossed three separate three hitters & one shut out in that period.

On June 29th, he won a 3-2 game against the Pirates, beating Steve Blass, while recording nine more Ks. In his next two games, he would collect three hits at the plate & drive in a run in each win. On July 12th, he was called in to mop up a 5-3 loss in a rare relief role. 
 
At the break he was 14-5 with a 2.28 ERA & an amazing 173 strike outs. The Mets were in second place 1.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1970 All Star Game: On July 14h, Tom Seaver got to start the 1970 All Star Game at the new Riverfront Stadium, in Cincinnati. The NL manager was his own manager, the World Champion Mets' Gil Hodges. Seaver would pitch three shut out innings, striking out four American Leaguers, Luis Aparacio, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew & Frank Howard. He allowed no runs on one hit (Carl Yastrzemski's) in the 5-4 NL win.

On July 17th, he went up against the Dodgers star pitcher,
Don Sutton. In this marquee game, Seaver went nine innings without allowing a run, but the Mets lost in the 10th when Wes Parker singled home Many Mota, off Tug McGraw. Sutton pitched a ten inning shut out. At the end of July the West Coast teams came into New York, drawing
their usual big crowds, as the old Dodger & Giant fans came out. 

On July 27th, Seaver beat the Giants & Gaylord Perry 5-3, as both future Hall of Famers put in complete game wins. For Seaver it was his 15th win of the year. He started out August with a three hit, two run victory over the San Diego Padres, his third win against them in 1970.

Nelson Briles shut out the Mets & Seaver on August 6th. He followed that up with his 17th win of the year, beating the first place Pirates, getting the Mets within 2.5 games of first. 

But The rest of the year didn’t go as well as 1969; the Mets & Seaver both struggled. Seaver, lost six of his last seven decisions. He would only allow less than three earned runs, one more time on the year. On August 23rd, he had a horrible day serving up seven runs & 11 hits to the eventual NL Champion Cincinnati Reds. 

Seaver finished the year at 18-12, leading the league in strikeouts
(283) for the second year in a row. He also led the league in ERA (2.82) for the first time, a title he would win again next year & three times overall.  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”.

1971 Season: In 1971 Seaver earned the victory on Opening Day, as the Mets beat the Montreal Expos 4-2 in a rain shortened game.  In his second start he threw nine shutout innings against the Reds, but got no decision. 
On April 16th, he struck out would be his season high 14 batters, as he threw a three hit shutout over Pittsburgh at Shea Stadium. He closed out April at 4-0 after a blow out 12-2 win in St. Louis.

The Houston Astros always gave the Mets trouble in those days & this year was no exception. Larry Dierker, Don Wilson & the Astros beat Seaver twice in a 12 day stretch to start out May. On May 7th, Seaver beat Bob Gibson & the Cards 3-1 in New York. 

After two no decisions, he beat the Padres to start another good West Coast trip on May 29th. In that game he drove in a run for the second straight game. He followed with a win at Dodger Stadium, beating Claude Osteen 3-1. In that game, Osteen only allowed a Bud Harrelson RBI double, as the other two runs were unearned due to Dodger errors. Seaver himself reached on an E5 as Bob Aspromonte scored the third run. 

He would go to win four of five decisions in June, starting out by helping himself by hitting a HR,
with a 2-1 win over Montreal on June 24th. He struck out nine, followed by a shut out in Philadelphia where he struck out 13 Phillies. 

By the end of June the Mets were in second place, just three games out, Seaver was 10-3 with a 2.03 ERA, but then he lost four straight games. This included a blown loss in relief on July 11th, in the second game of a double header with the Reds, leading to the All Star break. He made the All Star team, but did not pitch in the 1971 Mid Summer classic, the AL won 6-4. 

Strike Out Leader: In the first half, he already had five multiple strike out games & allowed one
run or less seven times. After the break he got even better, striking out ten or more batters, eight more times on his way to a league leading, career best 289 strikeout seasons. 

On August 6th, Seaver began a seven game win streak & over a four game san, would allow just two earned runs in a four game span. He allowed one run to the Atlanta Braves for his 12th win.  

Then on August 16th, took a heart breaking 1-0 loss to the Padres in San Diego. After shutting out the Padres for ten innings, Danny Frisella came in relief. With two runners on & double steal taking place, a Jerry Grote throwing error allowed the winning run to score. Dave Roberts shut out the Mets in 11 innings.  

Next on the west coast road trip, Seaver shut out the Dodgers & struck out ten in L.A. Back in New York, he defeated the Padres this time, allowing just one run, striking out eight. Then beat L.A. for the third time this year, against one loss to earn his 15th win. 

Unfortunately the Mets fell out of the pennant race by September. Seaver would go 5-2 through the month, beating the Cards to start out the month. On September 6th, he shut out the Expos tossing a two hitter, at Jary Park. As he struck out 12 batters, he also drove in two runs with a two run single, for win #17. Win #18 came against the Phillies. 

Third Career One Hitter: On Sunday September 26th
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 only one, while earning his 19th victory & third career no hitter. 

On Thursday, September 29th 1971, in his final start of the year, he won his 20th game, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1, striking out 13 in front of 42,344 fans at Shea Stadium. He was now a two time twenty game winner.

He wrapped up 1971 with a 20-10 record, (second most wins in the NL) leading the league in strike outs posting a career high 289 Ks. He also posted his career best ERA (1.76) leading the league for the second time. He was runner up to the Cy Young Award, pitching a career high 21 complete games with four shutouts in 286 innings thrown. 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.



1972 Season- After Gil Hodges Passing:
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.” Also that Spring there was a Players Union strike that delayed the start of the season, Seaver was the Mets union rep.


Management named, Yogi Berra manager because he was the popular choice. The Mets were a good team, had a good season (83-73) but never got over Hodges death & finished third.

Seaver got the start on a rainy Opening Day at Shea Stadium, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team announced they would retire Gil Hodges uniform #14, as he was honored in a pre game ceremony.  Seaver got the win, pitching six shut out innings on the cold rainy afternoon.

In his second start, he pitched another shut out, a four hitter against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, striking out nine. As the Mets went on their first West Coast trip of the year, Seaver won his third game, allowing just one run. Over his first three games, he was 3-0 with a 0.38 ERA allowing one run 24 innings.

After a win in San Francisco, he was at 4-0. Then the Padres handed him his first loss, of the year.  On a rainy May 11th matinee with the Dodgers at Shea, he beat Bill Singer 2-1. The winning run scored as a result of a Dodgers error on a botched pick off play. He would get to 7-2 by the end of May. 

In June he went back & forth with a win over Atlanta & then a loss to Cincinnati at home. He followed that with two consecutive games where he hit HRs. On June 13th, he hit one in a 6-5 loss to the Braves at Fulton County Stadium. Then he followed by helping himself in a 2-1 win over Ross Grimsley & the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. 

On June 24th, he had a terrible outing giving up seven runs on ten hits in a loss to the Cardinals. The only other day he had that was worse in 1972 was September 16th, where at Wrigley Field he gave up eight runs on a dozen hits, taking a loss.

In his next two starts, he had double digit strike out games in each, both resulting in victories. On June 28th, a 1-1 was broken on Jim Beauchump's 8th inning sac fly, giving the Mets the win in Philadelphia for Seaver's tenth win of the year. 

Fourth Career One Hitter:
On the 4th of July, he pitched another memorable game for the 40, 062 Shea fans. In the first game of a twin bill against the Padres, Seaver struck out eleven batters, holding them down without a hit until the 9th inning.  

Seaver had scattered four walks though the game & got Dave Roberts to ground out to start the 9th. But with one out,  Leron Lee spoiled the no hit bid, singling to centerfield. Seaver went on to toss his fourth career one hitter, besting his record to 11-4 with an ERA under two. On this day his catcher was Duffy Dyer.

On July 9th, the Dodgers behind Claude Osteen shut out the Mets & Seaver 2-0. On the later end
of the homestand, Seaver out dueled the Padres, Steve Arlin with a 2-1 win, led by Rookie Dave Schneck's two run HR. 

Seaver from July 23 to August 7th, he took four straight losing decisions, allowing five earned runs three times in the four games. But after that he settled down & allowed just one earned run in each of his next three starts. This led to two straight 2-1 squeaker wins over the Cubs at Wigley & the Braves at Shea. He then beat the Astros 4-1 at Shea Stadium, where he struck out ten, allowed one earned run & walked just two. 

He would notch his fourth straight win, in Atlanta where he hit his third HR of the season. In the game, the Mets supported him with a season high 13 runs scored.

The Mets were 14 games out in third place as September started, Seaver woud lose his first two games of the month. On September 10th, he only pitched five innings but shut out the Cards for his 17th win of the year. After the Wrigley Field beating mentioned earlier, he finished the year winning his last four starts.

 
On September 20th, he struck out his season high 15, batters in a 4-1 win over the first place Pirates at Shea Stadium. In another classic pitching duel with Steve Carlton, Seaver won a 2-1 game to beat the Phillies at Shea.

 Then on September 29th, in another match up against the Pirates , this time in Pittsburgh, he struck out 13 pitching a masterful two hit shut out to earn his 20th win of the year. Seaver was now a three time twenty game winner. He notched his final victory on October 3rd in Montreal, for win #21.

He finished the year 21-12 (second most wins in the NL) striking out 249 batters (also second in the NL) posting a 2.92 ERA with 13 complete games & 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.

1 comment:

A Tom Terrific Christmas said...

He wasn't God,but on this Christmas day, we can say that he was best gift ever delivered to the NY Mets.The premier pitcher of his generation is in the Hall of Fame as a Met,despite those other teams he was on.Totally clean,best prepared and no nonsense.He called management out on its' lack of professionalism,which led to The Trade.He left in 1977 proven right.A year later,M Donald Duck was gone,Joe McDonald Duck continued to run the team into the ground before the team had to be saved from itself,and finally sold after '79 by the most uninvolved owner in MLB history,Charles A Payson.