Remembering Mets History: (1967) Tom Seaver's MLB Debut
April 13th, 1967: In a much-anticipated debut a young rookie pitcher named Tom Seaver took the mound in a major league game for the first time.
Seaver had been a standout pitcher at the University of Southern California. The Atlanta Braves signed him just as the USC season began but MLB rules stated that a player could not be signed off of a college campus once that team stated playing.
Seaver intended to finish the year with no contact, but NCAA rules stated with no contract he could lose amateur status. Seaver & his father threatened legal action. MLB came up with a solution, that any team matching the Braves offer would earn the chance to get Seaver in a lottery.
Three teams, the Indians, Phillies & Mets were all in on Seaver, with the Mets winning the lottery & changing their teams' history.
A small Shea Stadium crowd of just 5,005 got to see Tom Terrific debut on a Thursday afternoon matinee at Shea Stadium. Manager Wes Westrum's Mets took on Harry Walker's Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs sent Woodie Fryman to the mound vs. Seaver.
The first batter Seaver ever faced in the majors, was former batting champion Matty Alou, Alou greeted Seaver with a double to right field. After two ground outs he walked slugger Willie Stargell. Then future Met & 1969 World Series MVP Donn Clendenon became Seaver's first ever strike out victim.
In the top of the 2nd inning Seaver struck out Bill Mazeroski & Gene Alley.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Mets Tommie Reynolds singled to center. Jerry Buchek then hit a two run HR off Fryman giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. It was his first HR of the year. Buchek would hit 14 HRs on the year second most behind Tommy Davis on the club.
In the 3rd inning, Matty Alou walked & Maury Wills singled. Then Seaver gave up the first run in his career with an RBI single to Roberto Clemente. He then struck out Stargell & Clendenon, then retired Mazeroski to end the inning.
Seaver would pitch into the 6th inning, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out eight in his debut & walked four. Seaver was relieved by Chuck Estrada who would pitch 2.2 scoreless innings getting to the 9th inning. Estrada would be the winning pitcher of record.
In the 8th inning, Buchek singled & was moved over to second on Jerry Grote's sac bunt. Buchek would move over to third on a Larry Stahl ground out. Chuck Hiller then doubled bringing in the game winning run in the 3-2 victory.
Mets reliever Ron Taylor came in the 9th inning retiring the side in order & earned a save before it was an official statistic.
Tom Seaver would return on April 20th & earn his first career win. In 1967 Seaver would win the NL Rookie of the Year going 16-13 with 170 strike outs (8th most in the NL) & a 2.76 ERA. His 16 wins were fifth best in the league.
went on to a twenty-year Hall of Fame career, winning three Cy Young Awards & making a dozen All Star games.
He won 311 games (311-205) 18th most wins all time, striking out 3640 batters (6th most all time) with 61 shut outs (7th most all time) & posting a 2.86 ERA.
He won a World Series with the 1969 Mets & pitched in two World Series overall, both with the Mets. He was a member of the 1986 Red Sox who lost to the Mets.
For the Mets Seaver pitched 12 years overall going 198-124 with 2541 strike outs & a 2.57 ERA with 44 shut outs, all team bests.