The trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati in 1977 caused riots in New York. Shea Stadium was nearly destroyed. Marshall Law was in effect in the Big Apple. The persons responsible for the trade were more despised than the Son of Sam.
After a handful of seasons with the Reds, Tom returned to the Mets in 1983, then moved on to the American League to finish out a terrific career.
Twice a year, a card show is hosted in the Moeller High School gymnasium. Moeller is the alma mater of two Baseball Hall of Famers, Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. I attended this show for the first time in November, 2008, and got my first Dave Parker autograph. I’m not sure why it took me a decade to go back, but last weekend my youngest son and I hit the show. No autographs this time around, just cards on the cheap, such as these Reds legends for a quarter each…
I also got a quartet of Gypsies for a quarter each as well…
If I had more wall space, I would love to add some Heroes of Yesterday artwork by Steve Douglas to my collection. But I’m not going to buy something and let it collect dust in my closet, when it could be enjoyed by someone else hanging on their wall. But Mr. Douglas was giving out business cards which featured artwork as well, and I took one featuring Chris Sabo…
If you have a mancave and want to add a little originality to the walls, check out Heroes of Yesterday for some pretty cool pieces.
And Magic Johnson for a quarter…
And the entire 1989 Pro Set Football Final Update series…21 cards…for a quarter…
I really miss Pro Set. I miss the fun NFL. I hope the XFL lives up to the hype and restores my interest in football.
I’m not going to wait another ten years to go back to the Moeller Show, but I don’t think I’ll wait until the last day to go, either. A lot of dealers had already packed up and left, and I’m sure those who remained were picked through pretty thoroughly before I got there. It was still fun, though, and I was happy with the cards I added to my collection.
Tom Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 as a New York Met. I get that. His greatest success came in New York, and the first team that everyone associates him with is the Mets. He won the Cy Young Award three times—as a Met—and won 198 games with the team. There was no question that the Mets would be featured on his cap on the plaque.
But he also played for the Reds, and it’s really difficult for me to not make a “Baseball Immortals” for Seaver without a Reds alternative…
And while I’m at it, I might as well make a White Sox card…
And a Red Sox card…
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch last night prior to the All-Star Game, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
Four of the top ten righties played in the early 1900s; five debuted in the 1950s or 1960s; one came into the big leagues in the 1980s. While the yearly top pitcher award is named after Cy Young (#2, 291.98), it’s Walter Johnson that comes out on top (#1, 303.08).
The third name on the list is no surprise either. Tom Seaver (#3, 267.73) was simply dominant during the entire decade of the 1970s, and was the undisputed best pitcher in the game in his era. The surprising thing is how good his peers were: Nolan Ryan (#5, 243.88), Gaylord Perry (#6, 239.15), Phil Niekro (#10, 219.57), Bert Blyleven (#11, 213.38), Don Sutton (#15, 207.39), and Fergie Jenkins (#16, 206.93).
Greg Maddux (#4, 264.96) was one of the most consistently good pitchers in the 1990s. He won the first of four consecutive Cy Young Awards in 1992 with the Cubs before signing with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent.
Pete Alexander (#7, 234.49), or Grover Cleveland Alexander (as I had always heard him called until recently), and Christy Mathewson (#9, 221.99) are the other two early twentieth century guys in the top ten. Bob Gibson (#8, 226.53) was an intimidating figure on the mound in the 1960s. In 1968 Gibson had a remarkable 1.12 ERA, a mind-boggling number for a guy who started 34 games and completed 28 of them.
Patrick saw my color change, and raised me a name change!
Now pitching for the Cincinnati Greens…Tom Seaver!
It was 35 years ago today that the Reds first took the field in green uniforms to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. While the fans loved it, not all the players were excited. Dave Concepcion allegedly mocked the uniform, saying, “I’m not wearing that. I’m Venezuelan, not Irish.” Phil Hecken has a good write-up of the tradition over at Uni Watch.
reader contributor Patrick sent the above “fun card” of Tom Seaver, and of course it had to be posted today. I made a small tweak (below), and would have gone further to change the team name to “Greens” if I knew the font and had it installed on my computer.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! Hope you didn’t get pinched too hard today!
In 1986 Topps teamed up with Quaker to issue a 33-card set full of superstars, including a nice handful of future Hall of Famers. Today we have the final six cards in the set…
Five out of the last six cards feature Hall of Fame players. Tom Seaver received the highest-ever percentage of votes when he was inducted in 1992 with 98.8%, and it was thought that Cal Ripken might challenge that mark when his name appeared on the ballot. Ripken ended up with 98.5% of the vote, which landed him third on the list behind Tom Terrific and Nolan Ryan. Jim Rice struggled the most to get into Cooperstown, finally garnering the 75% required in his fifteenth and final year on the BBWAA ballot.
The lone non-Hall of Famer here is Dan Quisenberry, one of the best closers in the majors in the first half of the 1980s and especially famous for his submarine style of delivering the ball to the plate. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times, and top 10 in MVP voting four times. Quisenberry retired in 1990 and passed away in 1998 from a brain tumor. In addition to his baseball career, Quisenberry is known for his writing; a book of his poetry was published in 1998.
The Last Icon: Tom Seaver and His Times
by Steven Travers
Taylor Trade Publishing, 2011
Who is the greatest pitcher in baseball history? Steven Travers presents the case for Tom Seaver as the all-time leader in The Last Icon: Tom Seaver and His Times, a fascinating biography of the legendary hurler. From his days as a struggling high school pitcher just trying to hang on, to the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s in a Mets uniform, touching on his time with the Reds, White Sox, and Red Sox, and culminating with his post-baseball pursuits, Travers delivers an intimate portrait of the man they call “Tom Terrific.”
Seaver was never involved in a major scandal. He was, by all accounts, faithful to his wife Nancy. Many viewed him as greedy, but Travers argues he simply wanted to be paid in accordance with other players of his stature. In hindsight, he was never paid what he was worth in baseball terms. Without scandals and rumors, what exactly did Travers have to write about? Seaver’s on-field accomplishments are the focus of the book, as they should be. His friendships with teammates, his influence upon younger players, his relationship with the fans. Seaver was an All-American boy, a legend, a player who “represented greatness and excellence during the waning days of innocence,” one who “transcends sports and New York City.”
The bulk of the book is spent on Seaver’s first tenure with New York, and rightly so as that is when he became a superstar. The author’s hero worship, however, is a bit overstated at times. For instance, he writes, “If he retired at the end of the 1973 season, he likely was already a Hall of Famer.” At that time, Seaver had only pitched in seven seasons, short of the minimum ten years required for consideration in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the statement is made for effect, but it can be distracting to the reader.
Seaver was one of the first ballplayers to extensively use the weight room as a part of his training. Travers largely avoids the topic of steroids in baseball, but does cast doubt on the integrity of some players by writing, “Nobody knew it at the time, but steroids may have already reared their ugly head a decade earlier than the Jose Canseco revelations would indicate. A look back at Brian Downing and Lance Parrish begs the question.”
Seaver’s love for New York is on full display in the passages dealing with his departures from the Mets, first by trade in 1977 to Cincinnati, and then by an oversight in 1984 when he was selected as a compensation pick by the White Sox. The Mets almost traded for him again in 1986; he ended up instead in Boston, who faced them in the World Series. The pitcher tried one last time to come back with New York in 1987. Unfortunately, neither of those scenarios worked out, and Seaver retired.
Certainly no one can deny the talent Tom Seaver possessed. The only Mets player to have his number retired by the team, a pitcher loved in every city in which he has played, the highest vote-getter by percentage in Hall of Fame history, and of course his statistics, all attest to his legendary status. The Last Icon: Tom Seaver and His Times is a highly-recommended book for fans of the Mets, the pitcher, and the game.
Everyone knows that #42 is retired league-wide for Robinson, and will probably be retired by the Yankees when Mariano Rivera hangs it up, but there is another who wore #42.
Bruce Sutter, St. Louis Cardinals
I’ve never been shy about my disdain toward the relief pitcher position, but my angst is directed more at the middle reliever than the closer. A legitimate position that deserves to be recognized by the Hall of Fame voters, and perhaps no one epitomized the role of the dominant closer more than Sutter in the 1970s and 80s. Though his career was relatively short (12 seasons), he was able to compile 300 saves while being named to six All-Star squads. He won the Cy Young Award in 1979 with the Cubs, and received votes in four other seasons. If it weren’t for relievers like Sutter, we might not have guys like Rivera today.
Eddie Mathews, Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves
Tom Seaver, New York Mets
Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers