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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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To Seaver, The Best

Tom Seaver is no longer a public figure. Lyme disease and its long-term effects have assured we won’t see him when the living members of the 1969 Mets gather at Citi Field in late June to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a world championship that Seaver never viewed as a miracle. Tom had a point, as there could be nothing miraculous about a team led by Tom Seaver proving itself the best on the planet.

When word spread on Thursday afternoon that one of the greatest pitchers ever and the greatest Met there will ever be has been diagnosed with dementia and has thus “chosen to completely retire from public life,” it was simultaneously a shock to the system and not exactly surprising. We’ve read and heard about Tom dealing with Lyme disease for ages and had more than an inkling that it was taking an inevitable toll on someone who rarely gave into anything or anybody during that extended period when so many of us chose him as our idol. Seaver had already stopped traveling across the country to attend Hall of Fame induction weekend, an event he never seemed to miss in the first couple of decades after he himself was honored. I’d noticed that when the Mets put out statements and releases celebrating Jacob deGrom’s Cy Young last November, there was no boilerplate quote from the Met who’d won three of them. The media guide stopped listing him as a Club Ambassador in 2018. I can’t recall him having been present in Flushing since the 2013 All-Star Game, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to David Wright. Quietly, Tom slipped from view.

Except when you thought about the Mets. There he was and is and forever will be — No. 41, on the mound, pitcher-perfect motion, striking out any of 2,541 batters between 1967 and 1977 and then again in 1983 who dared thought of connecting with his fastball. Yes, there’s a 41 at the end of that figure, just as there’s a 41 at the top of any list of anybody who’s ever played for the Mets. He’s been the greatest of Mets since his debut in 1967, he’ll be the greatest of Mets come 2067. We’re open to auditions between now and then, but we don’t seriously expect anybody to supplant Tom Seaver atop our chart.

Tom’s family says he’ll continue to work in his California vineyard. In that spirit, if you’re so inclined, raise a glass to Tom Terrific and those who will care for him as he goes on. Think of him at his best. There’s a ton to think about there.

19 comments to To Seaver, The Best

  • Dave

    A sad day, even if, as you said, we knew he wasn’t well. For those of us of a certain age, he was our hero, our idol, our go-to guy to shut Yankee fans up. I guess someone could make a case for Christy Mathewson, but for me, the best pitcher ever for any NY team.

    Seeing him throw the last pitch at Shea was almost more than I could handle. Seeing the 69 Mets later this year…same. He gave us Our Miracle.

  • eric1973

    Tom Terrific, the best Met ever. Hope he lives a long and happy life with Nancy. He brought 50 years of happiness to many of us, whenever we saw him play, heard that cackle of laughter, or spoke or heard his name.

    Thank you, Tom.

  • ljcmets

    As Mets fans we’ve been losing Tom Seaver forever it seems. In 1977. In 1984. In 1988. To the Reds. To the White Sox. To the Red Sox. To the Yankee broadcast booth. To an uneasy relationship with the team and organization. If there’s one thing the Mets were good at it was Losing Tom Seaver.

    But Tom always came back to Us. In 1983. In 1985 for his 300th win. In 1988 when #41 was retired. In 1992 at Cooperstown. Closing down Shea and opening Citi. Tossing out that first All-Star pitch to David. No amount of foolishness, greed or condescension from the front office could keep him from Mets fans. We always kept that torch burning, and so, I believe, did he.

    This feels like the last time we’ll lose Tom Seaver except we know it’s not yet. But to slowly lose his essence while he lives is tragic for his family, and the worst loss of Tom Seaver ever. We pray for one last Miracle for this Met of all Mets, and we miss him already. We will keep that torch burning for Tom, his family and for ourselves until there’s neither heat nor light. Until then, Let’s Go Mets.

  • Dave

    The strangest, “no that’s not right” thing I’ve seen all day was a tweet from the Chicago Tribune announcing the condition of former White Sox pitcher Tom Seaver. Yeah, technically true, but it’s like calling that guy from American Idol the lead singer of Queen.

    • StorkFan

      I heard it on WINS. The story (from a national correspondent) played a Seaver highlight — from his no-hitter with the Reds. No, that’s not right.

    • As one who has celebrated New York Met legends from Richie Ashburn and Duke Snider to Rickey Henderson and Pedro Martinez, I understand and respect the Tribune’s impulse.

  • Jeff

    In 1969, I was 7 years old. That’s the time a baseball crazed boy gets connected with a team and a player. Tom Seaver was that player for me. He was just a joy to watch perform. Number 41 will always be number 1 for all Mets fans. Simply the best.
    God Bless Tom Seaver and family.

  • Mark Mehler

    A bunch of us went to watch win #300. He was a White Sock then, pitching in Yankee Stadium of all places, but that day he was operating in a zone all his own – out of time and place. The milestone belonged strictly to him and Met fans everywhere. It was one Terrific day.

  • I was 13 when we lost The Franchise because of the particularly mean-spirited, penny pinching nastiness of M. Donald Grant and his vicious lap dog Dick Young. I was two months shy of my 20th birthday when the overrated bow tie, Frank Cashen, protected the immortal Junior Ortiz and let The Franchise; on the verge of his 300th career victory, slip away to the White Sox. I watched at the end in ’87 when The Franchise tried valiantly for one more Met stand, but knew he was truly good and done. I ached at those occasions because Tom Seaver never had a choice in them. And now, as a 55 year old who has suffered kidney failure and a life saving transplant, and seen loved ones struck by the same insidious disease Mr. Seaver has; I know that once again, Mr. Seaver has no choice in the road that lies ahead. I hope he knows the joy and pride he brought to all Mets fans. We are always reminded that baseball is a business. However, Mr. Seaver excelled in his business like few ever have. He was sent away by callous management people with no feeling for the fans who support their business. Yet, Tom Terrific always returned, perhaps for us. He was only a Red for 5 and a half years; a White Sock for a year and a half, and Red Sock for a mere couple of months. But he was, is and always will be a Met. And not just a Met, but The Franchise.

  • Bob

    I think it was 1967 @ Shea when I first saw Seaver. I heard we had picked him up and I was amazed the Mets had a good young pitcher–along with a kid named Tug…..
    Seaver was and is a CLASS act and one of the few times in my 50+ years of being a Met Fan did I almost give it up was in 1977 when they gave him to the Redlegs. (Only other time I almost quit is when they let Mookie go and I put curse on Mets)
    All I can do is Thank the Baseball Gods for allowing me to see Seaver for the decades that I did.
    Let’s Go Mets!
    Bob
    Met fan since Polo Grounds–1963

  • Pete In Iowa

    Prayers and sincere best wishes to Nancy and the Seaver family. Truly sad, sad news.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Learning of a hero’s mortality, one is faced with the knowledge of eventually having to do the same inevitable thing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Tom Terrific.

  • Tim H

    I’ve been a fan of Tom’s for forever, but especially when I was a vendor at Shea in 1969 and ’70. One time, pre-game, while we vendors were playing our slapball game under the stands, a guy was quietly walking by, on his way to, well, the clubhouse. No one recognized him, except me. And, after he passed us all, I yelled out to him, “Hey, George!” And Tom Terrific turned around and laughed his patented hardy laugh. Wonderful memories.

  • Mario Colandrea

    Not only was he the best, he was my hero as a child. Tom Seaver, what an amazing pitcher. I tried to pitch just like him, except I am a lefty. I have been a Mets fan since 1973, I was ten years old, and one day I saw this team in the world series with the Oakland A`s. That`s when my love affair with Mets started. I can still name the starting lineup of that team and many other`s as well. I was called Mr. Met in my neighborhood. And no body talks about how the Mets got to the 1973 world series. It was a miracle come back, that team was in last place in the month of august. God bless Tugger, as after a meeting with the brass, they came out with you gotta believe, who could forget #45 tug McGraw. And who could forget When Tom Seaver came back in the the early 80`s. That was one of the biggest day`s in my life. I was terribly saddened when he was traded away. So god bless you Tom for all the great memories you gave us.

  • Gil

    Bend a (dirty) knee before the king of Queens. God bless you, Tommy.

  • Dave

    I was 9 in 1969 and Tom Seaver was the first baseball player I was ever even aware of. And he quickly became my favorite player on my favorite team went a long way towards making me a Mets fan forever. And that was a great place for me to start my life as a baseball fan, because, as it turns out Tom was the best Met, and nearly the best pitcher ever in any uniform, then and for all time. He will always be wrapped up in the magic of what baseball is to me. I watched him excel at his job from the stands at Shea and on my TV. There were so many games in the 70s that he simply took ownership of – pounding the strike zone with unhitable pitches – striking out so many batters while others were lucky to even hit the ball – usually into easy outs. If our adulthood is a progression of losing what we care about, Seaver has been lost to us several times over: getting within 2 outs of a perfect game, having the mound in game 6 in 1973 but failing to win, the tragic trade, the heartbreak of watching him elsewhere, his all too brief return and 2nd exit, watching him work in the booth for the evil empire, and now, this saddest day of all, the loss of Tom in our public lives forever. My heart goes out to him and his loved ones – and to all of us – who will never forget our proud warrior in his prime, commanding the mound at Shea in the sunlight, dirt on his knee, hurling exploding fastball after fastball to Jerry Grote, and showing the world a greatness that was all too fleeting. They tore down that stadium and now time has torn down my hero. We love you Tom. There will never be another like you.

  • My seventh birthday was also my first visit to Shea. Seaver was on the mound. I watched and listened to so many of his games. The long stride, the tireless arm. 6/15/77 will forever be a dark day of my life of sports fandom. There will never be another Met pitcher with his talent or charisma (Jacob, you might be the closest).

  • Lenny65

    In a fair and just world the New York Mets would be playing their home games in Seaver Field and every time you visited Seaver Field you’d pose for a selfie in front of the one-hundred foot high 24K gold statue of Seaver in the middle of his iconic pitching motion. Seaver is easily the greatest Met ever, in fact it isn’t even remotely close. Even his otherworldly numbers don’t adequately describe how he towered over the NY sports scene during is Mets heyday. He was the personification of excellence and class, a winner in every sense of the word and an exemplary role model as well.

    His 1983 Opening Day return was one of the most rousing Mets moments ever. People often forget that Seaver was a viable MLB pitcher for so long that he was actually on the 1986 Red Sox, an anomaly that never would have occurred in a just and fair world. Dementia is about as unjust and unfair as it gets and it goes without saying that this fan wishes Tom and his family the very best, words that describe everything you need to know about #41.

  • Daniel Hall

    Dementia sucks. This sucks. … Everything sucks. -.-