Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the ace of the “Miracle Mets” who led the once laughingstock baseball franchise to a shocking World Series victory in 1969, died early Monday from complications of Lewy body dementia and the coronavirus, his family said. He was 75.
“We are heartbroken to share that our beloved husband and father has passed away,” Seaver’s wife Nancy Seaver, and daughters Sarah and Anne, said in a statement. “We send our love out to his fans, as we mourn his loss with you.”
“Tom Terrific” won 311 games, had a 2.86 ERA and struck out 3,640 batters over a 20-year major league career.
Seaver, a right-handed power pitcher, was named to 12 All-Star teams and led the National League in wins three times, ERA three times and strikeouts five times. Seaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992 when he was named on 98.8% of ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“Tom Seaver’s life exemplified greatness in the game, as well as integrity, character, and sportsmanship -- the ideals of a Hall of Fame career,” Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. “As a longtime member of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Tom brought dignity and wisdom to this institution that will be deeply missed. His love for baseball history, and for the Hall of Fame, was reinforced in 2014, when he pledged the donation of his personal baseball collection to the Museum. His wonderful legacy will be preserved forever in Cooperstown.”
Born in Fresno, California, on Nov. 17, 1944, George Thomas Seaver was the National League Rookie of the Year, when he went 16-13 for the Mets. he came to New York after the Mets’ name was picked out of a hat by commissioner William Eckert after a botched signing by the Atlanta Braves.
Two years later, he won the first of his three N.L. Cy Young Awards when he went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA. He was the ace of a young pitching staff that rallied to overtake the Chicago Cubs in the N.L. East Division, then swept the Braves in the National League Championship Series.
The Mets were heavy underdogs in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, who won the first game of the best-of-seven series. However, the Mets won the next four games to post the biggest upset in major league history since the Boston Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.
After leading the Mets to another World Series in 1973, Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the 1977 season. He returned to the Mets in 1983, then spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Chicago White Sox before ending his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1986.
In a statement, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred called Seaver “one of the greatest pitchers of all-time” and “a gentleman who represented the best of our National Pastime.”
“He was synonymous with the New York Mets and their unforgettable 1969 season,” Manfred said. “After their improbable World Series Championship, Tom became a household name to baseball fans -- a responsibility he carried out with distinction throughout his life.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Tom’s family, his admirers throughout our game, Mets fans, and the many people he touched.”