Tom Seaver — who gave the Mets legitimacy at a time when they needed it most, and went on to become the best player in franchise history and one of the most accomplished pitchers in the game — died Monday surrounded by his family at his home in Calistoga, Calif. He was 75.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Seaver died peacefully in his sleep from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. He went public with his dementia diagnosis in 2019 and retired from public life.
“We are heartbroken to share that our beloved husband and father has passed away,” said his wife Nancy Seaver and daughters Sarah and Anne in a statement to the Hall of Fame. “We send our love out to his fans, as we mourn his loss with you.”
Seaver, in a career that spanned from 1967-86, spent 12 of those seasons with the Mets, leading the “Miracle Mets” to the world championship in 1969 and to the National League pennant in 1973. A 12-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, garnering a then-record 98.8 percent of the vote.
Seaver won 311 games, had a 2.86 earned run average and struck out 3,640 batters over a 20-year major league career. He led the National League in wins three times, ERA three times and strikeouts five times.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Tom Seaver, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Tom was a gentleman who represented the best of our National Pastime. He was synonymous with the New York Mets and their unforgettable 1969 season. After their improbable World Series Championship, Tom became a household name to baseball fans — a responsibility he carried out with distinction throughout his life. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Tom’s family, his admirers throughout our game, Mets fans, and the many people he touched.”
Seaver, who was born in Fresno, Calif., and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was obtained by the Mets in a special draft lottery in 1966 and earned the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year Award. “Tom Terrific” went on to help change the team from lovable losers into the “Miracle Mets,” bringing the team its first world championship in 1969 in only its eighth year of existence, while earning his first of three NL Cy Young awards.
Seaver won National League ERA titles in three of the next four seasons, capturing his second Cy Young Award in 1973 while leading the Mets to the NL pennant. In 1970, Seaver tied a major league record, striking out 19 Padres in a game that included a record 10 consecutive strikeouts to end the game. In 1975, Seaver won his third NL Cy Young Award. In addition to his 12 seasons with the Mets, Seaver spent parts of six seasons with the Reds, three with the White Sox and one with the Red Sox.
In what came to be known as the “Midnight Massacre,” the Mets traded Seaver to the Reds on June 15, 1977, after a bitter contract dispute with Mets chairman of the board M. Donald Grant that got unnecessarily personal. He would return to the Mets for the 1983 season.
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Mets Legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver,” Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said in a statement Wednesday night. “Tom was nicknamed ‘The Franchise’ and ‘Tom Terrific’ because of how valuable he truly was to our organization and our loyal fans, as his #41 was the first player number retired by the organization in 1988. He was simply the greatest Mets player of all-time and among the best to ever play the game which culminated with his near unanimous induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.
“Beyond the multitude of awards, records, accolades, World Series Championship, All-Star appearances, and just overall brilliance, we will always remember Tom for his passion and devotion to his family, the game of baseball, and his vineyard.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Nancy, daughters Sarah and Anne and four grandsons, Thomas, William, Henry and Tobin.”
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