Of all of the unbelievably talented pitchers who came through in the 60’s and 70’s, Tom Seaver may not have been the best… though he very well may have been the best… but he was my favorite.
Tom Seaver died yesterday. His stay with the Red Sox was very short, but not so short that I don’t have a second hand story. I’ve probably shared this before but, here it goes again…
It’s not actually my story, it’s my brother’s story and I’m just a tiny part of it.
During the 1986 season, Tewksbury Little League had a fund raiser where they sold tickets to a Red Sox game. It was a promotion the Sox made available, but our town broke the system. We sold so many tickets that the Red Sox changed the format and made a lot fewer tickets available in future seasons. For that season though, Tewksbury baseball sold a shit load of tickets, and my little brother sold more than anyone.
The prize for the kid who sold the most tickets was an opportunity to sit in the Red Sox dugout before a game, and if that isn’t the greatest fund raiser prize ever dreamed of then it should be because oh my god that was an awesome prize. John won. If I remember correctly, he won by far. No one was close. It’s been 34 years and my memory could be totally wrong, but I think John won by a mile.
The day came, and Fenway Park was overflowing with Tewksbury people. Before the game, during warm ups, John was given a seat in the dugout, and my little nine year old brother was as happy as a pig in shit. He got autographs from everyone. He actually spent a few minutes hanging out with Johnny Pesky. Can you believe it?
Before the game I had given John my 1986 Topps Tom Seaver baseball card. Tom was wearing a White Sox uniform on the card, but it was the current season’s card. I asked John that if he saw Tom Seaver, could he ask him to sign the card?
Did Tom Seaver sign the card? Well, you bet your sweet asses he did! That’s not the biggest take away from this story though. While John was in the dugout… Tom Seaver… Tom Terrific… the greatest player in New York Mets history… the guy who was likely, unofficially, brought to Boston in order to teach Roger Clemens how to be the best pitcher in the game… Spit on My Brother.
OH… MY… GOD!!! Tom Seaver spit on my brother!
It was TOTALLY AN ACCIDENT, of course. Tom had the reputation of being a total gentleman, and he was. He was chewing tobacco, or something similar, and he spit out some juice and my brother was accidentally in the line of spit-fire and he got hit by a little of it. Tom apologized and I think helped him wipe it up.
Tom Seaver… 300 career wins (311)… 3,000 career strikeouts (3,640)… a career ERA under 3.00 (2.86). Also, let’s not forget that he was the driving force of the Miracle Mets in 1969. That might be the biggest achievement of them all.
Rest in Peace, Tom Seaver. Still my favorite pitcher.
Note: I added a link to the site I stole the picture from, but I haven’t read that article. I did read this article and it’s perfect.