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.