Seaver Opens Up About Being Traded from the New York Mets to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977, and Pitchers in Today’s Game
Secaucus, NJ, December 8, 2011 – Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver discusses his legendary 20-year career in a new episode of MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas on Monday, December 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Throughout the hour-long interview filmed in Cooperstown, New York in July 2011, Seaver comments on being part of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets and his contract dispute with former Mets’ owner M. Donald Grant prior to being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977. After watching a clip from his goodbye press conference with the Mets, Seaver says, “It was a false love affair. Not with the fans, not with the teammates, not [with] the game. Three out of four is pretty good.” Seaver also talks about losing his bid for a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1969, facing fellow Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Mickey Mantle, and how today’s Major League pitchers are handled. A preview of the interview can be viewed here.
Seaver, nicknamed “Tom Terrific,” was a 12-time All-Star and 311-game winner, who spent his career with the Mets (1967-1977, 1983), Reds (1977-1982), Chicago White Sox (1984-1986) and Boston Red Sox (1986). Seaver, who holds a 2.86 lifetime ERA with 3,640 career strikeouts, was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 by the highest percentage ever recorded (98.84).
Prior to Studio 42 with Bob Costas, MLB Network’s block of offseason programming will air, including Intentional Talk at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. ET, Clubhouse Confidential at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. ET, and MLB Network’s offseason show of record, Hot Stove at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. ET.
Highlights from the conversation with Seaver include:
On being traded to the Reds after a contract dispute with the Mets in 1977:
The ownership, M. Donald Grant, after Gil [Hodges] died, it changed tremendously. Gil would not let that stuff happen. I was my player rep. I represented my team in the labor negotiations. M. Donald Grant came to me during this period of time, right before I got traded, and looked at me and said, “What are you, some kind of communist?” So, the love affair was a one-way street. As soon as he said that, and there were things before that, he said, “Who do you think you are joining the Greenwich Country Club?” I said, “Oh, that’s interesting, that’s pretty interesting.” So, it began to die. … It was time for me to go. It was time for me to go. … It was not pretty. When you give your heart to somebody and then they rip it back out of you. … It was a lie, it was false. It was a false love affair. Not with the fans, not with the teammates, not [with] the game. Three out of four is pretty good. It never affected me with my teammates and what I did for a living.
On winning the 1969 World Series:
We were in [the clubhouse] at the celebration. It was one of the best realizations of my life. We were in there [with] the champagne. This has got to be the ultimate and you know what? It wasn’t the ultimate. It’s the field that is the ultimate. We went back on the field. …. It isn’t the celebration. … It’s what’s on the field. That’s where the art form is. That’s where the competition is. That’s where the intellectual input as a team makes this happen: on the field. I went back to the mound. … I just went back and looked. … You want that to be your last image. … There was nobody in the stands and it was disheveled and grass was torn up and taken away. But it’s on the field. … It is the journey, not the destination.
On the Chicago Cubs’ Jim Qualls breaking up his bid for a perfect game in the 9th inning on July 9, 1969:
Never saw him before. Brand new player. … The whole night with him, I didn’t see any holes at all. I think he hit the ball hard three times. … Certainly, you would say if I had to do it over again … I’d do something else. … The drama of it was fabulous. I actually felt levitation in that game. It was 55,000 people or whatever and I knew exactly what was going on. … I stood there and I actually felt like I was coming off the mound.
On heading into the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles:
They were really good, but you know what? Our pitching was better. … We really felt like we were going to win.
On his lifetime record of 311-205:
The one thing that makes me proud is that I can go back and pitch for five years right now and be 0-20 each year, I’d still be over .500 as a pitcher.
The journey in the game is why you’re able to win at 38 years old. I had a coach, Dave Duncan, [for] the [Chicago] White Sox, playing for Tony La Russa. …. Here’s my pitching coach and I’m toweling off and he looked at me and said, “Tom, you don’t have squat tonight.” … And I toweled off and I said, “It won’t make any difference. It’s called pitching, not throwing.” That’s where it was so much fun. You don’t have anything. … All of the sudden, you’ve pitched seven and two-thirds innings and you go off the mound and you’re ahead three to two. …. And on the day that Duncan said that to me, I went by and said, “Can you imagine if I would have had good stuff?”
On facing Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle:
You love the moment. You love the one little singular personal piece of history that you faced Mickey Mantle and you know it’s going to be dramatic and you’re going to go, “Let him go,” and he’s going to swing three times and he’s going to let it go.
On today’s pitchers coming out of games early:
It is the economics running the game or somebody’s theory or system that now they look for reasons to take a pitcher out. … What are you doing to this pitcher? Why don’t you go to the mound and say, “You are throwing great. Put this to bed. Put it in the casket.” You’re trying to build these individuals mentally. … Leave them in there. Let them be stud muffins.