Oh, I liked the Mets before Tom Seaver arrived on the mound in 1967.
It’s just that as a young boy growing up on Long Island, I didn’t know better than to endure all that losing from my very first favorite team.
And then this pitcher came to Shea Stadium from Southern California and showed me what good was all about.
George Thomas Seaver, as was his full name, was an All-Star that first year, won 16 games, as won the Rookie-of-the-Year award.
The rest, as they say, was history.
Seaver put the franchise on his back and led the once-forlorn squad, 100-game losers multiple times since their 1962 origin, to the World Series championship over the Baltimore Orioles in 1969. What a surprise and a delight it was to this junior high schooler.
My fascination with the player and team continued until the General Manager, bum that he was, traded Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977. I was a college student. I ranted and raged against the machine.
Somehow I managed to stay a Mets fan. Seaver came back to pitch for the Mets again not one more time in his Hall-of-Fame career, but twice, after great things with the Reds, including his first no-hitter, then the Chicago White Sox. He rightly ended his playing days as a Met. He wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, which I noted with the photo above on a visit with my dear wife Karen.
Seaver, oh, Seaver.
What a player. What a good guy, waving to the crowd with fellow eventual Hall of Famer, catcher Mike Piazza, at the closing of Shea Stadium and the opening of Citi Field. He talked to us as a Mets broadcaster, sharing wisdom about the game. Dignified.
It became known in years of late that Seaver suffered from dementia, a sad fact indeed. Wednesday, his wife Nancy and his daughters announced that he died of that disease, with the added complications of COVID-19.
It was a sad discovery, indeed, for this lifelong Mets fan. And a time to look back and remember that Seaver meant to me in my Wonder Bread years. So much. He showed me winning and professionalism.