by Kevin Walsh

With your indulgence, I’m going to break format to talk about Tom Seaver, one of my childhood icons (when I was a kid, I was lucky to have three: Seaver, Paul McCartney, and Mr. Spock. Seaver passed away on August 31, 2020 at age 75 after a lengthy battle with Lyme disease, dementia and Covid-19.

Here, 1969 Met teammates Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman and Ron Swoboda stand in front of the newly christened Citifield entrance, now 41 Seaver Way, and hold a NYC Department of Transportation street sign that would be be affixed to 126th Street between Northern Blvd. and Roosevelt Avenue on the east side of the stadium. 41 was Seaver’s uniform number, retired by the Mets years ago.

The signs honor Fresno, California native, U.S. Marine and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the greatest player the star-crossed New York Mets have ever produced. Playing before the pitch-count era, he amassed 311 victories and 231 complete games, wining the Cy Young Award three times and winning 20 games in a season five times over a 20-year career with the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. His arrival to the Mets in 1967 marked a change in the team’s outlook—formerly an aggregation of other teams’ castoffs, the Seaver-era Mets were renowned for pitching and defense, though making only two World Series and winning one, in 1969.

Yet the Mets haven’t served Seaver’s efforts particularly well. He was traded in 1977, still at the peak of his career, during a contract dispute. After the Mets brought him back for the 1983 season, he was inexplicably left off the Mets’ free-agent draft protected list and was promptly claimed by the White Sox. After the Mets’ new park, Citifield, opened in 2009, Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon made the grand entrance to the stadium a shrine to Jackie Robinson—a historic major leaguer, but a Brooklyn Dodger. Seaver and other Mets standouts settled for pennants on lampposts outside the park.

Finally the Wilpons decided to set Seaver’s legacy aright in 2019 by commissioning a statue him, renaming the stadium address for him as well as petitioning the city to rename 126th Street as Seaver Way. However, they did this after Seaver’s dementia diagnosis, a complication of Lyme disease he acquired tending to his California vineyards. Seaver could not travel to the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 championship at Citifield, and he never again visited the stadium that bears his name on its letterhead.

On the day after Seaver’s death was announced the Mets rubbed dirt on the right knees of their uniforms as a tribute to the dirt that accumulated on Seaver’s knee as he followed through after throwing a pitch. Pete Alonso cracked a game winning home run to beat the Yankees.

The Mets will wear a black circle with the #41 on their right shoulders for the remainder of the season.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



FNY Fan Skipper September 7, 2020 - 5:39 pm

Thanks for posting, Kevin. He is my hero as well. The greatest Met there will be. R.I.P.

Peter September 8, 2020 - 1:17 am

I never understood the point of the Jackie Robinson shrine at Citifield. It should be at Dodger Stadium.

Mitchell Pak September 9, 2020 - 12:13 pm

Peter: The Jackie Robinson shrine was the brainchild of Fred Wilpon, who was a high school teammate of Sandy Koufax and bled Dodger blue at heart. He considered the Mets the heirs apparent to the Dodgers. He inherited Shea Stadium but when he had the chance to build his own stadium, he decided to honor his beloved Dodgers by making Citi Field into a modern day Ebbets Field, complete with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. He has since admitted that he made a mistake in not creating a stadium to honor the team he actually owns. Sadly, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda will probably always be there, since removing it in favor of Seaver will undoubtedly be seen as racist in our society.

Tal Barzilai September 8, 2020 - 11:50 pm

It was nice to name 126th Street where Citifield stands after Tom Seaver, who probably deserved it. I do wish there more places around Citifield named for the Mets as there are for the Yankees around Yankee Stadium. Then again, the Mets probably don’t have as many polific players compared to the Yankees. Unfortunately, I can’t too many things about Tom Seaver, because I never saw him play due to not even been born when he played and he probably retired long before I was born, but I do know that he was one of their greatest aces in pitching before having others such as Dwight Gooden, Mike Hampton, Johan Santana, RA Dickey, Jacob Degrom, and Noah Syndergaard. As for the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, I’m not trying to be racist or against having blacks playing in MLB, but he really had nothing to do with the Mets, and it wouldn’t make any sense to name it for someone like him, plus he even retired before the team existed. On a side note, the full name of the previous stadium was called William August Shea Memorial Stadium in honor of the NL Commissioner who granted the expansion to have the Mets exist in the first place, though everyone just called Shea Stadium due to probably the actual name probably being too long.

Mitchell Pak September 9, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Tal Barziai: Bill Shea was never NL Commissioner. He was a politically very well connected lawyer in the late 1950’s. He created a elaborate scheme to convince the NL to expand to allow the Mets to play in the league. Here is the story.

In the late 1950’s, the Dodgers wanted to leave Ebbets Field, since it was small, had very limited car parking and was located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a part of Brooklyn that was already in social decline by that time. Robert Moses, the NYC Coordinator of Construction at that time, refused to provide Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley with another suitable location in Brooklyn to build a new, larger stadium (he offered him Flushing Meadows, where Shea was built later) so O’Malley wanted to move to Los Angeles, which offered him a huge tract of land in Chavez Ravine. O’Malley didn’t want to move to California by himself so he convinced Horace Stoneham, owner of the NY Giants, to move with him. When the Giants’ Board of Directors took a vote on the move, there were two “no” votes – these were by Joan Payson and M. Donald Grant.

After the Giants and Dodgers left, the only team left in NYC was the Yankees. When the era of expansion started in 1960, two teams were added to the American League – the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators (to replace the previous Senators team that had moved to Minnesota for the
1960 season and became the Twins). When the NL announced that it would expand two teams for the 1962 season, Joan Payson lobbied to have one of these teams awarded to New York. The NL declined, so Payson contacted her good friend, Bill Shea, and asked for his help. Shea concocted a plan to form a third major league, called the Metropolitan League. Teams in the new league would be placed in cities that didn’t have major league teams at that point, including Houston, San Diego – and New York. The NL officials knew of Shea’s abilities and believed he could make a run of the new league. They gave in and advised that if Shea would drop the idea of the third league, the NL would allow expansion to occur in New York. And so the Mets were born.

Tal Barzilai September 9, 2020 - 11:09 pm

Nonetheless, he was the one responsible for bringing the Mets into existence, which is why that stadium was named for him, though most probably never called it by its full name.

Brian September 9, 2020 - 3:04 pm

William Shea was a lawyer and founder of the proposed Continental League in 1959. The very idea of another professional league convinced MLB to add more teams. Shea agreed to disband the Continental League when the Mets were chosen as one the expansion teams. Ford Frick was the MLB commissioner at the time.

Source: Wikipedia

Kenny September 14, 2020 - 6:03 pm

The best part of Tom Seaver winning a game was hearing his laugh afterwards on Kiner’s Corner. Then a RC Cola commercial with Tom and Nancy. Probably the last time I watched channel 9. And I will never forget Tom telling Phil Rizzuto about the Bud Harrelson Pete Rose fight during the 1973 Playoffs. High – sterrical.
Thanks Tom.


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