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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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No. 41 in Our Hearts

Terrific only began to say it.

Tom Seaver was everything to the New York Mets. Everything. He was everything to me. Everything. And I know I’m not alone in that assessment.

Seaver’s death Monday at the age of 75 was announced tonight shortly after the current Mets’ win at Baltimore. I watched that game, as I watch practically every game, probably because I watched the Mets play their way to Baltimore and the World Series 51 years ago next month. The Mets played their way to Baltimore in October of 1969, taking on and taking down the mighty Orioles, in large part because they had the good sense to ask the commissioner of baseball to write their name on a slip of paper and stick it in a hat in the spring of 1966. The Mets’ name emerged. The perennially bottom-scraping Mets didn’t know it, but they were soon to follow.

Seaver made the Mets a year later. Then he made the Mets over.

Tom Terrific, 1944-2020.

There are and have been many avenues into loving this team, a team hobbled by expansion when they were born and perversely celebrated as lovable losers as they barely learned to crawl let alone walk. We understand imperfection. We revel in humanity. We root for the underdog because we fancy ourselves the underdog.

But then we got somebody who shattered every paradigm about what it meant to be the New York Mets and to love the New York Mets. Somebody who was as far from losing as first place was from tenth. Somebody who not so much flirted with perfection but set up shop just down the block from it. Somebody who was human, yes, but performed in a superhuman manner, leaving behind an indelible image of a pitcher and a person who could not be beat.

That ethos and ability took Tom Seaver to the major leagues, then to its top, where he stayed for the balance of two decades as an active player and then forever after as an immortal. Find me a better pitcher than Tom Seaver. I’ve been a fan of this sport for 52 seasons. I haven’t found one, though to be fair, I stopped looking after I found No. 41.

Seaver played baseball for as long as he could, then checked in and out of the game as he chose. After his retirement, we saw him both reasonably often and not nearly enough. He held a few titles as an emeritus Met, but living legend amply covered his portfolio.

Half of that all-purpose descriptor is gone now, with Tom a victim of complications from Lyme disease, dementia and COVID-19. We knew about how the first one brought on the second. I hadn’t heard anything about the third, but this is 2020, and when more than 180,000 of our countrymen have died from a virus, one or more is bound to be somebody you can’t believe could be ended. We couldn’t believe Tom Seaver had to retire from public life in the first place, in 2019. He was too strong, too much the champion. Nobody filled out the spot atop a pitching rubber like Tom Seaver. I don’t know jack about wine, but I’m sure nobody filled out a vineyard like Tom Seaver, either.

I came to loving the Mets in 1969. Tom Seaver was instantly my favorite Met of all time. All time has yet to expire where my affection is concerned. He was the best when the Mets were the best, and perhaps as a six-year-old that was all I needed to know. Soon the Mets wouldn’t be so much the best, but Tom never ceased, not as far as I could reckon. He won twenty games for us four times and five times overall. He won the Cy Young three times. He pitched in two World Series. He lifted us to our first world championship, the world’s least probable, earned to an Amazin’ extent on the right arm of the man observed by anybody with any sense of the game as the most likely to succeed. When the time came for his ticket to be stamped for Cooperstown, the process couldn’t have been more of a formality: 311 wins; a 2.86 ERA over twenty seasons; and 3,640 strikeouts translated to a 98.8% Hall of Fame approval rating, the highest any starting pitcher has ever drawn.

I’m always citing numbers with Seaver. I can’t help myself. They were so astounding to me, so far beyond what anybody else was posting. You can wake me up on Christmas morning, as the saying goes, and I can rattle them off: 16-13; 16-12; 25-7; 18-12; 20-10; 21-12; 19-10; 11-11; 22-9; 14-11; 7-3. Then 6/15/77. Then 4/5/83. Some numbers in between and thereafter for three other teams. Then 41 on the wall, 425 out of 430 votes from the BBWAA and, honestly, I can swim in those numbers for hours.

But you can look those up on Baseball-Reference or anywhere. Tom Seaver transcended his statistics. The professionalism. The striving. The striding. The knee in the dirt as he drove the ball toward home plate, to whichever spot he judged optimal for the achievement of an out. The fastball that blew as many as ten batters in a row away. The reimagining of his arsenal as he grasped that his inherent physical talents were diminishing. The Franchise, obviously. A man who showed up at Shea in 1967, refusing to suffer losing gladly. A man who put away his gear in 1987, declining to compete at a level that wouldn’t permit him every chance to win and win again. For a generation, he was the personification of winning. I knew it. His teammates knew it. The opposing batters knew it. Magnificence cross-bred with consistency leavened with the intensely cerebral and the indefatigably competitive. Oh, brother, Tom was more than terrific.

Terrific only began to say it. Yet it says so much.

33 comments to No. 41 in Our Hearts

  • Lenny65

    The greatest Met there ever was or ever will be. Growing up in Mets country in the 1970s Seaver was nothing short of a living deity. He WAS the New York Mets. When compiling a list of all-time Mets you just start at #2, as #1 is indisputable. They could name streets for him, they could name the stadium after him, they could name the entirety of Queens after him and it wouldn’t be enough. He has been and will be sorely sorely missed. This is one of the saddest days in Mets history.

  • Inside Pitcher


  • Henry J Lenz

    Always my #1 Met. The Greatest. Wonderful memories of my youth. I met him a few times in my broadcasting career and tried to stay professional. Did ask for an autograph once. He signed and smiled. Then I got Johnny Bench to sign the same ball. A HOF battery still on my bookshelf. RIP.

  • Dave

    You reach an age when there isn’t much of your childhood left. And tonight I left one more piece of mine. Like you Greg, he instantly became my favorite, my idol, the main reason I became a Mets fan, something I’ve been longer than I’ve been almost anything.

    We already knew you sucked, 2020. You didn’t have to prove it some more.

  • Chris

    The 10 year old inside me is crying. He represented everything good about the franchise. You hear names of famous people that pass away and it’s sad but this one is a gut punch. Another little piece of childhood gone. Loved those old Mets!! RIP Tom Tertific!

  • CharlieH

    The best I ever saw.

  • Nick

    He was everything.

    And yes, those won-loss records are indelible, couldn’t be removed from my brain even if I tried (the ERA’s too, of course— and how notable that deGrom is at 1.76 right now, the passing of some cross-generational torch)…. The disdain I had for the other allegedly great pitchers of that era- Palmer, Hunter, Blyleven, Sutton… all of those pretenders, like the imitators of Sherlock Holmes… The later facsimiles – Steve Rogers, Dave Steib…. you just knew they couldn’t compare. No one could.

    I’ve seen a few people say their childhood just ended. Not mine. Mine ended many many years ago, on a hot and sticky night when the Mets were playing in Atlanta and rumors were swirling. Finally it was announced, over and true: the unthinkable. Bob Murphy delivered the news.

    June 15, 1977 divides my fan life as surely as 9/11 or 11/22/63 mark epochal events in our national life. The innocence was gone after that. The Franchise was gone and the franchise was in ruins.

    But the memories! The images! The leg kick! The drive, the dirt on the knee, the biting of the lower lip, the wearing of the jacket on the basepaths, the high pitched laugh on Kiner’s Korner, the strikeouts, the tipped hats, the genuine love of the Art of Pitching. All this and more made him the best to wear the uniform.

    RIP, GTS.

  • DAK442

    I idolized Tom like no one before, or since. I remember being relieved he wouldn’t appear in the World Series against us because it would have been agonizing to root against him. What a legend. It’s a sad day.


    I am devastated tonight. My brother made me love baseball, but Tom Seaver made me love the Mets. There will never be another.

  • eric1973

    Who’s to say we would have rooted against him in the ’86 WS?

    What a tightly-knit group they were, and most of them are Seaver’s age. And most of them are still around.

    And so lots more sad days to come. I guess that’s the price we pay for having magical childhoods, where we cannot remember life without our heroes, who seemingly will live forever. And heroes they will ever remain, in body and in spirit.

  • Daniel Hall

    I must cry and I have barely any tears left…

    I blame M. Donald Grant. It’s all his fault. All of it!

  • Curt Emanuel

    Hard news. June, 1977 devastated me. My favorite player and a big piece of why I became a Mets fan – and also, every five days, one bright spot on a weak Mets team.

    Yesterday didn’t devastate me. I’m not 12 any more. I know the world isn’t fair. In a fair world Tom Terrific would have lived another 15-20 years as an aging but hale and hearty man able to enjoy the accolades whenever we wanted to remember a past hero. But I’m older now and no, the world isn’t fair.

  • BlackCountryMet

    Sad news. He was WAY before i grew to come into Mets fandom but once i did, i was well aware of his place at the top of the Pantheon.

    A great tribute, Greg, i expected nothing less

  • Steve D

    The only thing to say for now is we have lost the greatest Met who will ever put on the uniform now and for perpetuity. I feel bad for those that did now see it in person.

  • Tim H

    When I was a vendor at Shea Stadium during the Mets 1969-70 seasons, I was fortunate enough to have watched Tom Seaver befuddle his opponents countless times. And, while his near-perfect game in July ’69 and his leading the team to a most unexpected World Championship later that year certainly stand out, I prefer to remember a different moment.

    It was the habit of some of us vendors, before the gates were opened to the fans, to play slapball under the stands. One day, while playing in the “field,” I caught out of the corner of my eye one of the Mets ballplayers walking purposefully – and respectfully – around our makeshift infield. It was Tom Seaver.

    But, no one else seemed to notice him, as we were all concentrating on our game. I took that opportunity to yell out, “Hey, George!” – using Seaver’s real first name. As he turned and smiled, I chastised him with, “Can’t you see we’re playing here?!” And, in his fashion, he let out with his trademark hearty laugh. He was the best of all time. He was “Terrific.”

  • Seth

    I never met a better Met. I wonder how he got Covid? I assume he wasn’t getting out much.

  • dmg

    For those of us lucky enough to have seen him, every start was a master class in the pitcher’s art.

    He was by all accounts a stand-up guy, who said what he thought and led by example. Honestly, when I was growing up, Tom Terrific almost seemed too perfect for a kid to idolize, like I wasn’t worthy. (So my favorite pitching Met was Jerry Koosman.)

    When he was traded in 1977, it taught me life is unfair. And my favorite memory of Seaver was him walking in from the bullpen on opening day 1983, to slowly building thunderous cheers. Prodigal son.
    (Also, among my favorite NYPost headlines was for an obit: M. Donald Grant, Who Traded Seaver, Is Dead)

    Earlier in this plague time SNY rebroadcast the full NBC coverage of the 1969 Series and it included an interview by Tony Kubek of Seaver after Game 4, his first Series win. Kubek said, I’m sure there’ll be many more to come. And Seaver said, thanks, I hope so.

    And the bittersweet truth is that while there should have been, there never were.

    This profile by Pat Jordan for Sports Illustrated in 1972 captures a lot of what we Mets fans knew and loved about him. Rest in peace, George Thomas Seaver. Your memory will always be a blessing.

  • open the gates

    I always knew about Tom Seaver – you couldn’t grow up in New York and not know about him. But I didn’t actually start following baseball until I was 12. My father grew up a few blocks from Ebbetts Field and never forgave baseball for stealing his Bums, so I had to do it on my own. But there came the inevitable time that I needed to make the choice – Mets or Yankees? Well, Seaver played for the Mets, and that was that. So I officially became a Met fan… right at the start of the ’77 season. And the rest is history, right?

    So unfortunately, I know about most of Seaver’s greatness through osmosis. My personal experience consisted of he first few months of ’77, the giddy reunion in ’83, the agony of losing him – twice! – then seeing him staring out at Doc and Keith and the guys in the ’86 series. And then there was ’87, which to me showed the class and the greatness of the man. The great Mets starting rotation was rubble, thanks to injury and other things, and The Franchise was attempting to rescue the franchise. He could probably have come back, possibly pitched a few more years, and who would have stopped him? He was Tom Seaver, for crying out loud. But be felt that he couldn’t contribute at an elite level any more, so he hung them up. Classy until the end.


  • Seth

    He was just so jovial. When he appeared on Kiner’s Korner he was energetic, funny, laughed easily. That laugh was infectious. You just fell in love with his personality and the fact he was so great on the mound only intensified that.

  • Bob

    As a Met fan since Polo Grounds, I saw Seaver come up with Mets.
    There was a Mets before Seaver when people laughed at us and a Mets during Seaver, when we were World Champions and nobody laughed at us.
    The only 2 times I almost quit being Met fan— when when M Donald Grant traded the Franchise and when they let Mookie go to the Torontos.
    The interview in the Mets Clubhouse after game 5 VS Baltimore
    in 1969 with Seaver says it all.
    How lucky I was to have seen Tom Terrific!
    RIP Tom Seaver now in Baseball Heaven.

  • chuck

    The MLB network was gracious enough to replay Seaver’s 300th win earlier this year.

    Jerry Reinsdorf was gloating in a post game interview about having plucked Seaver away.

    Jerry, M. Donald Grant and Dick Young await your arrival in whatever circle of hell they’re in.

  • argman

    I will always remember the day they retired his number (I believe in 1988). A true love-in with 55,000 grateful Mets fans. This virtual shiva is the best way to mark his passing. We were lucky to have him.

  • Mike in Atlanta

    He was Mr. Met to me. I was 12 when he was traded and still to this day feel the emotion of losing a family member. Beautiful video tribute on The scene where he meets with the press right after learning he was traded is still hard to watch. You can see and feel the emotion. He was truly heart broken to be leaving NY and his Met fans..

  • Richard Porricelli

    ..I can still my older brother freaking out after jimmy Qualls hit..I remember how I froze after LeRon lee’s equally cheap single ended that bid..And that afternoon in Chicago and Joe Wallis..Goddam..
    But I also remember those all star game starts and the pride we all felt..The Cy Youngs..

  • orange and blue through and through

    Another piece of youth; of innocence, perhaps, taken from our collective memories. The key factor in turning a wide-eyed five year old into a lifelong Mets fan. Tom Seaver represented all of our hopes and dreams for being a Mets fan. He took a moribund, sad sack team and showed that with talent, determination and drive, plus an extraordinary grace, we could lift ourselves up, and be better than we thought we could. Amazing? Without question. Terrific? Undeniably. And driven, always, to be the best.
    And so, another hero of my childhood has fallen. And now, after 56 and a half years, surviving both open heart surgery and a kidney transplant, I look for other heroes to carry me on the rest of my journey. I pray to have the strength, courage and heart that #41 always had.
    Thank you Mr. Seaver for your contribution to a wonderful life. Rest peacefully.

  • Cleon Jones

    Rest in Peace. Hank Aaron said Seaver was the toughest pitcher he ever faced. My sincere condolences to the family. The good Lord needed a starting pitcher- HE choose #41.

  • Michael in CT

    Magnificent encomium, worthy of the man. Thanks, Greg.

  • […] they gave it to Jenkins. Whatever. I knew Tom Seaver was the best in 1971. I knew it before 1971. I’ve known it ever since. That’s the very important […]

  • JerseyJack

    I was 13 in 1969, so u know Tom Terrific was a huge part of my childhood….. RIP , #41

  • […] was the Met tribute I’d been waiting for since we learned of Tom’s passing. Moments of silence, smudges of dirt and patches in black were all properly respectful, but nothing […]