Dick Selma: Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher & Tom Seaver's Childhood Friend (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 1965 Mets as a September call up.

MLB Debut: 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 shutous against the Milwaukee Braves, striking out 13 batters. In four games that month he went 2-1 striking out 26 batters in 26 innings.

1966: Selma was the club's 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.

On May 10th he earned his first victory, pitching a 4.2 relief effort against the Astros. On May 20th, he earned his second win coming in a 2.2 relief effort in San Francisco, where he was helped out by Ron Hunt's three run HR.

He was 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA at the end of May then took three straight losing decisions in relief. He was given a start on June 20th but gave up four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals. He went back to the minors for the next two months returning in late August.

On August 22nd, he gave up four runs at Wrigley Field & then got shut out in Atlanta by Dick Kelley on a two hitter. He was now on 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 innings in 30 games.

1967: Selma 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 2-4 with two saves, while posting a 2.77 ERA. 

Selma's first win came on June 27th shutting out the Pirates into the 6th inning & his second was shutting out the Cubs for five innings at Wrigley on September 2nd.

1968: Selma got himself back into the starting rotation by May, starting 23 of the 33 games he pitched that season. I

On May 4th, in his first start Selma pitched into the 9th inning, allowing two runs, striking out five earning a 7-3 win over the Cubs. In his next start he tossed a five-hit shutout at Chicago's Wrigley Field in a 10-0 Mets win.

Selma came home to Shea & pitched another complete game, this time beating the Atlanta Braves while striking out seven. On May 30th he allowed four runs but still earned the win in a 5-4 victory over the Pirates. 

On June 11th, he beat Claude Osteen & the Dodgers in a 3-0 five hit, shut out at Dodger Stadium. He struck out four & walked just one to get to 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA.
Later that week on June 16th, he went head-to-head with Ray Sadecki in San Francisco, losing a 3-1 game, giving up two earned runs, one a HR to Willie Mays.
On June 26th he made his worst start, giving up six runs on eight hits to the Reds in Cincinnati. He would allow four runs or more seven times in the season.

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. In mid-July Selma lost five straight decisions, not earning another win until August 27th, when he shut out the reigning World Champion in St. Louis on a four hitter. 

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. Selma pitched three shutouts and struck out 117 batters in 169 innings that season walking 54.

Post Mets Career: 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 Niekro. 

Trivia: 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 the Mets & 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 Callison. 

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 was 8-9 on the year for a fifth place Phillies team that won just 73 games.

He spent four seasons with the Phillies (1970-1973) going 11-21 with 26 saves & 3.93 ERA along the way.

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

Baseball Card Trivia: Selma had a great 1973 Topps card where he is in action pitching at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, donning the Phillies powder blue road uniforms. I'm guessing it either Ken Henderson or Chris Spier at bat??

In 1974 he pitched for both the California Angels & Milwaukee Brewers in what was his last big-league season.

Career Stats: 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. 

Family: Dick was married to the former Carolyn Kossman from 1964 to 1975. He later married his second wife Kathy & they remained together until his passing. Selma had two children & four grandchildren.

Passing: In 2001 he passed away from liver cancer at the age of 57.


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