Personal Stories

Tom Seaver 1944-2020

Our heroes are slowly dying.

I guess I’m at that age where that’s starting to happen. There have been a few deaths over the years that have left me stunned; people who have left us “before their time.” Now it’s time to acknowledge that I’m going to be seeing a lot of my heroes departing this world over the next decade.

My parents weren’t sports fans. I started watching baseball in 1974 and learned the rules by myself (and explained them to my mother). I was a Mets fan from day one. What drew me to them? I have no idea. I can name some of my idols from those early days. At the top of the list was Tom Seaver.

I can remember doing a book report on a book that I read about him from our school library. To this day I can still remember some of the details. I remember that he was driving his car when he saw his future-wife Nancy walking down the street and picked her up and put her in the car with him. I remember his older daughter, Sarah, was around the same age as me.

Most of all, though, I remember watching him pitch. It was glorious. The second baseball game my father ever took me to was a one-hitter Seaver pitched in April of 1977, just before the awful trade that took him away from the team. I remember crying when he came back to the team in 1983. He was “home.” I made a trip to Cooperstown after he was inducted in 1992, just to see his plaque there.

Over the last few years it was announced he had dementia. It’s sad that a pitcher who was known for bringing a cerebral quality to the game; for studying opposing players and his own mechanics and analyzing what worked and what didn’t; would be affected by this. Life is cruel sometimes. His family came out when the road in front of the Mets’ new stadium was renamed Seaver Way.

Last night, as I was laying in bed reading, I got an alert that Tom Seaver had passed due to complications from dementia and COVID-19. The world suddenly seemed to be a colder place.

4 replies »

  1. I admit that I don’t follow baseball (don’t hate me), but I understand the feeling of seeing a lot of people you know go. When I was kid, lo these many years ago, a great-aunt of mine read of the death of some actress whose name I don’t recall, if I ever knew it and said, “All the old movie actors and actresses are dying now.” I feel like that now with so many people, both celebrities and people I know.

    • I don’t hate you. A lot of people don’t like baseball. I really like baseball over any other sport. I can admit to feeling that way about many people, but it always felt like they went “before their time” and made it al the more tragic. I’ve reached the age where the people I “grew up with” are at an age where we see they’ve lived “a good, long life”.

    • Willie Mays. He was just before my time, really, but he’s getting up there. I think about the old timers when I started watching, like Ed Kranepool. Strawberry and Gooden abused their bodies at a young age, so who knows with them.

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