Nov 18, 2020

Tom Seaver (Part Four): After The Pennant & The Mid Seventies (1974-1977)

After the Pennant: 
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. 

But for Sever this was to be his worst year in a Mets uniform. He would have back issues that affected his pitching mechanics. The problem would last for the first few months of the season. When the leader struggles, the rest of the team also suffers. With no true star able to step up on offense or pitching, the NL Champions fell to a fifth place finish at 71-91. 
Seaver got the start on Opening day against his old
rival, Steve Carlton in Philadelphia. He went seven innings allowing three runs earning no decision in the Mets rare Opening Day loss. 

In April Seaver would allow six earned runs in a game twice & took to losses before getting a win on April 26th. That was a 4-0 shut out in San Francisco, where he struck out seven. He also had two RBI singles in the game, to help his own cause.

May wasn't much better, Seaver went 1-3 in the month, but there were some bright spots. 

On May 1st, he & the Dodgers Andy Messersmith, went at it in a classic pithing duel. Seaver went 12 innings, he struck out a season high 16 batters & allowed just one earned run. Messersmith pitched 11 innings allowing just one run as well. But the Dodgers won the game in the 14th, on a Steve Garvey RBI single. The Dodgers were the NL Champions of 1974.

On May 17th, Seaver shut out Montreal in a five hitter, where he struck out 13. He did not notch another win, until June 1st. He struck out 11 Astros at Shea Stadium, giving up just one run on five hits, to beat Dave Roberts. 

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 year 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 from June 21st - July 26th. On June 21st, John Milers two HRs off Steve Carlton led the Mets to a 3-1 win behind Seaver's five shut out innings.

On July 7th, he three hit the Phils, holding them to a run at Shea Stadium, into the 8th inning, for a 4-2 win. This time Cleon Jones HR & 3 RBIs off pitcher Dick Ruthven supplied the offense.

On July 26th, he shut out the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, on a four hitter, where he struck out five & issued no walks. 

It would be another month until he recorded another victory. On July 31st he had a horrendous outing against the Pirates at Shea, where he allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits, exiting in the 5th inning. He would settle down in mid August, as the back issues kept being a problem. 

On August 19th, he pitched into the 11th inning at the Astrodome, dueling with Houston star pitcher, Don Wilson. Seaver lost the game on Milt Mays walk off single in the 11th. Finally on August 29th, he earned a win, shutting out the Astros at Shea Stadium on a five hitter. He contributed with an RBI single in the 7-0 win. This got him back to .500 at 8-8.

Seaver won three more games in a row, beating the Cubs twice, including another shut out on September 13th. 

In this four hitter he struck out 11

batters & had an RBI single of his own. His season ended with three straight losses, including a 2-1 battle with the Phils, Jim Lonborg on the next to last day of the season.

In 1974, 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 per nine innings ratio was best in the league for the fifth straight season. Also his strike out to walk ratio was tops in the league for the second straight year.

1975 Cy Young Season: In the off season Seaver worked out his back issues & got his mechanics back to top form. He completely turned it around, winning his third Cy Young Award.

The Mets added some power to the line up in 1975 acquiring slugger Dave Kingman, veteran Joe Torre & out fielder Del Unser. Thier staff was a s good as any with Seaver, Koosman & Jon Matlack. There was promise again at Shea Stadium for another good year after the dismal '74 season.

On Opening Day 1975, Seaver went at it again with Steve Carlton, at Shea Stadium. In another classic, Seaver took the 2-1 win with help from new Mets Torre & Kingman, providing the RBIs. 

Seaver gave up three runs to the Pirates & Cubs in his next two starts, taking losses in both. He then pitched two complete game victories, where he allowed just one run & also got run support from the offense.

On May 11th, he gave up a HR to nemesis Pete Rose, but shut down the Big Red Machine to two runs, beating Jack Billingham 3-2 at Shea Stadium. John Milner's HR provided the offense, along with a Seaver RBI hit as well. Seaver also struck out seven.

Over the next two months, Seaver went on a roll, from May 26th to July 9th he 8-0 with two no decisions.  He would strike out 72 batters & allow 14 runs in 82 innings in that time. This earned him the Player of the Week in early June & won the Pitcher of the Month Award as well.

On June 5th at Shea Stadium, he beat Tom Griffin in a 2-1 duel, striking out eight Astros, scattering six hits for his 8th win. He followed with a pair of shut outs on the Mets West Coast road trip.

First near his hometown of Fresno, he pitched a five hit shut out over the Giants, striking out nine. He also doubled off pitcher Jim Barr, bringin in a run.

Then on June 15th, down the coast in San Diego. There he tossed a three hitter, where he only struck out four but walked no one. He drove in a run in his second straight game too. This was his tenth victory of the year & he lowered his ERA to 1.82. 

He allowed just one run in each of the next two games, but took no decision, as John Candelaria of the Pirates held the Mets down on June 20th. 

He then beat the Cardinals & Bob Forcsh 2-1 at Shea Stadium, striking out eight. Rusty Staub's two run triple gave the Mets their runs. Seaver then struck out 11 in the first game of a double header with the Phillies, but got no decision in the Mets loss.

Independence Day in Philadelphia, had Seaver going into the 9th inning down 3-1 to the Phils. But Dave Kingman & Jerry Grote both hit HRs off  former Met, Tug McGraw to give the Mets & Seaver the win. On July 9th, Seaver pitched ten innings to get a win in Atlanta. He struck out nine while earning his 13th victory. Rust Staub's extra inning HR won the game for the Mets.

1975 All Star:
 At the break Seaver was
 13-5 record with a 1.93 ERA. He went to his 8th All Star game, this one played at County Stadium in Milwaukee. 

In the All Star game he blew a 3-0 NL lead by allowing a three run HR to Carl Yastrzemski in the 6th inning. The NL rallied back to win the game 6-3. His team mate, Met Jon Matlack went on to earn the victory & win the co MVP Award.

At the end of July, the Mets fired manager Yogi Berra. A few weeks earlier the Mets had parted ways with Cleon Jones after an alleged sex scandal in Florida & his refusal to obey Berra's managerial orders n the field. The Mets moved on with former coach - interim manager, Roy McMillan. 

The Reds came to town & stopped Seaver's win streak at eight. He came back to beat the Braves again but then lost to the Reds again, & the Cardinals in St, Louis. On August 3rd the Mets lost an extra inning game in the first of a twin bill at Three Rivers, Seaver went ten innings but go no decision.

For the next month, Seaver went on another win streak, winning seven straight starts. The Mets were still in contention, seven games behind the Pirates in third place in early August. On August 7th, Seaver shut out the Expos on a three hitter, earning his 15th win of the year. At the plate he started a personal five game hit streak, driving in runs in his next two wins as well.

On August 12th, he then beat the Padres, striking out eight batters to get to his 16th win.

When the Giants came to Shea Stadium, he shut out them out for 7.1 innings, allowing just three hits. When the Mets went back to San Francisco, Seaver beat the Giants again, to go 3-0 against them on the year. On August 27th, in San Diego he tossed his fourth shut out, a six hitter where he struck out ten batters to earn his 19th victory.

On September 1st, at Shea Stadium, Seaver shut out the Pirates, to earn his 20th win. Seaver also passed the 200 strike out mark, setting a record of being the only pitcher to record 200 or more strike outs for  also It was his second shut out in a row & the first time this season he struck out ten or more batters in seven consecutive games. He was now 20-7 with a 2.06 ERA.

On just four days rest, Seaver came out to beat the Cardinals at Shea, striking out seven more batters & winning his 21st game.

The Mets were 73-66 only four games out in early September and still in the pennant race. But a
six game losing streak & a bad September where they went 11-16 took them out of the race.

On, September 10th the first place Pirates knocked up Seaver for six runs & his first loss in almost a month and a half's time. The Mets arrived in St. Louis where Seaver took his second straight loss. Seaver then took two one run no decisions in a row. 

On September 24th, Seaver & Rick Reuschel went at it for ten innings at Wrigley Field. Both pitchers allowed just one run, the Mets lost the game when Skip Lockwood walked in the winning run. Seaver finished off the year with his 22nd win, a 5-4 victory at Philadelphia.

Third Cy Young Award:
For 1975, Seaver led the league in victories going 22-9 with a .719 winning %, he once again led in strikeouts (251). He posted a 2.38 ERA (3rd in the league) pitched 280 innings (3rd in the NL) walking just 88 batters with 15 complete games (3rd in the NL) & five shut outs (4th in the NL). 

Bicentennial Year 1976 : For the
start of the 1976 bicentennial year, Seaver beat the Expos on Opening Day with a five hit, one run outing. 

After two no decisions, he threw a three hit, one run game in Houston for his second win. On April 29th, he threw a five hit shut out at Shea Stadium, striking out nine & beating the Braves 3-0. Dave Kingman's RBI single was the winning run. 

On May 4th, he beat Fred Norman & the Big Red Machine, collecting an RBI with a bases loaded walk. Kingman homered in this game as well.

Through the rest of May, he took four straight losing decisions to fall to 4-4. His worst outing being, May 25th where he gave up 15 hits & seven runs in Philadelphia. On June 4th, at Dodger Stadium, the Mets bats gave him eleven runs. Seaver provided a three hit shut out, with eight Ks. 

In San Diego, Randy Jones shut out the Mets 3-0 handing Seaver his 5th loss (5-5). The West Coast trip continued to San Francisco, where Seaver beat the Giants, going 8.2 innings for the win. Back at home he beat the Giants & the St. Louis where he struck out 11 batters.

On July 3rd, the Mets won a 3-2 game in the 10th inning, when Bud Harrelson scored after a botched pick off play. Seaver had pitched 9 innings, allowing two runs earning no decision. He won two more games that month & exited early on July 11th in Atlanta with stiffness in his arm.

1976 All Star Game- Jon Matlack, Dave Kingman-
Manager Sparky Anderson & Seaver

1976 All Star Game
:
Seaver made his ninth & final Mets All Star appearance in 1976. The game was played in Philadelphia, with the NL winning 7-1, their fifth straight win &  their 13th win in 14 years. 
 Seaver relieved the Padres, Randy Jones in the 4th inning of the All Star Game, allowing a HR to Fred Lynn. He pitched two innings, allowing the run on two hits with one strike out.

As August came, Seaver lost three straight games & found himself at 10-10, although he was still sporting a 2.50 ERA. By September, the Mets were eleven games out of first& the playoffs were not going to happen again.

Seaver had a strong month, winning four straight games, beginning with a 1-0, four hit shut out
over the Phillies. After a win at Wrigley Field, he shut out the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, striking out a season high 12 batters, in the five hitter, earning him his 13th win. In New York, he won his 14th & final game of the year, beating the Pirates again.

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 ninth season. He also posted the league’s third best ERA at 2.59, threw five shutouts with 15 complete games (6th in the NL) & 271 innings pitched (3rd best in the league). His strike outs per nine innings was best in the league for the sixth straight year.

1977: 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 & April Pitcher of the Month Awards. 

He started his last Opening Day, ending a decade long streak & beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, striking out seven. He followed with two straight shut outs, beating the Cardinals & The Cubs. On April 17th, Seaver pitched his fifth career one hitter, striking out six in the 6-0 win over the Cubs. 

He finished the month with a one run complete game performance against the Padres to get to 4-0 lowering his ERA to 1.52. 

The contact turmoil's & 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 roommate 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.


                                 (SEE THE MIDNIGHT MASSACRE posting)


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, in a visiting uniform, a huge crowd 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. 

1977 All Star Game
1977 All Star:
He went to his 10th All Star Game, and received a standing ovation from the New York crowd as the game was held in the new AL New York's Stadium.  Seaver 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, 1978 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 20 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. He got to another post season, getting no decision in the NLCS loss to the Pirates. 

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

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