September 13, 2013

Historic Mets: Tom Seaver

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When discussing the best players to ever strap on a Mets uniform, there can be little debate that Tom Seaver wins the prize.  Born on November 17th, 1944, "The Franchise" was signed by the New York Mets as an amatuer free agent in 1966.  He would go on to be the undisputed greatest free agent acquisition in team history.

After spending a year in the minor leagues, Seaver made his debut on April 13th, 1967 at age 22.  Seaver wasted no time making an impact on the team, winning 16 games that season and winning the Rookie Of The Year award.  He would go on to win 16 or more games in eight of his eleven plus seasons with the organization, including an incredible 25 wins in 1969, en route to the franchise's first World Series Championship.  During his time with the team, he would be voted to eight All-Star Game appearances.

Seaver was be traded to the Cincinnati Reds as a result of a contract dispute during the 1977 season as part of two trades that the New York press dubbed "The Midnight Massacre".  The Mets promptly finished in last place each of the next three seasons, with unprecidented fan backlash at the time.  To date, many consider it the worst trade in team history.  Seaver would win an additional 75 games with the Reds before being traded back to the Mets in December 1982.

Seaver would post a 9-14 record during the 1983 season and was intent on remaining with the team to finish his career.  However, following the 1983 season in a process that no longer exists, the Chicago White Sox claimed Seaver in a "free-agent compensation draft", much to the surprise of the team's front office who left him off the protected list for the proceeding.  Seaver would pitch another three seasons in the big leagues, finishing his career in 1986 with the Boston Red Sox, who the Mets would defeat for their second World Series Championship that year.

Despite his two unceremonious departures from the team, Seaver remains the organization's most popular player of all-time.  His number '41' became the third and final number retired by the Mets' organization to date, on June 24th, 1988.  It is the only time the Mets have ever retired the number of a player, having previous retired the numbers of two managers, Gil Hodges and Casey Stengal.  Seaver is regularly present on important dates in Mets history, having thrown out the first pitch at Citi Field in 2009 and was most recently been present for the 2013 All-Star Game.

Career Highlights: 311 wins (18th all-time) , 3640 strike outs (6th all-time), 12 All-Star Game Appearances, 3 Cy Young Awards, 1967 Rookie of the Year Award

Mets Highlights: All-time leader in: Wins (198), Innings pitched (3045.1), Games Started (395), Strikeouts (2541)

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