'A light we all looked to': In memory of Tom

September 3rd, 2020

NEW YORK -- Soon, a Tom Seaver statue will be unveiled in front of Citi Field, which has already had its street address changed to honor the Hall of Fame pitcher. Both are mere tokens representing the respect the baseball community holds for Seaver, who passed away at the age of 75.

“We all knew that Tom had been suffering for the last few years, so it’s a sadness, but there’s also a light there because Tom represented our childhood,” said Gary Cohen, whose relationship with Seaver grew when the two worked concurrently as Mets broadcasters from 1999-2005. “He was a light that we could all look to. He was the best at his craft. He was the leader of his team. He was immaculate in his preparation and the way he approached his job. He was a good person.”

Soon after news of Seaver’s death broke, sympathies came pouring in from across the league.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Tom Seaver, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Tom was a gentleman who represented the best of our National Pastime. He was synonymous with the New York Mets and their unforgettable 1969 season. After their improbable World Series Championship, Tom became a household name to baseball fans -- a responsibility he carried out with distinction throughout his life.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Tom’s family, his admirers throughout our game, Mets fans, and the many people he touched.”

Added MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark: “Tom Seaver will be remembered as a fierce and gifted competitor, a Hall of Fame pitcher whose passion never wavered on or off the field. He was a strong and steady voice on behalf of his fellow players as the Mets’ player representative in the early days of the Players Association. We send our sympathies to his family, friends and legion of fans.”

Throughout Wednesday evening, other condolences came pouring in.

From Seaver’s former teams:

“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Mets Legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver,” Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “Tom was nicknamed ‘The Franchise’ and ‘Tom Terrific’ because of how valuable he truly was to our organization and our loyal fans, as his No. 41 was the first player number retired by the organization in 1988. He was simply the greatest Mets player of all-time and among the best to ever play the game.”

“Tom Seaver was one of the best and most inspirational pitchers to play the game,” added Bob Castellini, current CEO of a Reds franchise that famously traded for him in 1977. “We are grateful that Tom’s Hall of Fame career included time with the Reds. We are proud to count his name among the greats in the Reds Hall of Fame. He will be missed.”

Seaver also played for the White Sox and Red Sox at the end of his career. The latter club tweeted out that “Our hearts go out to the Seaver family. We are proud that his stellar Hall of Fame career culminated in a Red Sox uniform. RIP Tom Terrific.”

In a statement, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf added: “He was the consummate professional in everything he did, and at the same time, he had a fantastic sense of humor that reverberated around the clubhouse. Tom was an artist on the mound, who loved and respected the game of baseball with an unmatched passion.”

From fellow Hall of Famers:

“Tom was always rooting for me to get into the Hall,” said Mike Piazza, the only other player to enter Cooperstown with a Mets cap on his plaque. “Two of my fondest memories are walking out of Shea Stadium together after the last game and then when he threw the ceremonial first pitch to me at Citi Field the next year. He was one of a kind.”

Added Tom Glavine, on Twitter: “So sad to hear of the passing of my friend Tom Seaver, great pitcher and great man. My prayers to his family.”

Jim Palmer, whose career began and ended two years before that of his contemporary, chimed in with a similar heartfelt message: “Saddened to hear my friend, Tom Seaver, has passed away. My condolences to Nancy and the Seaver family. Baseball lost the best pitcher of my era.”

From other players:

Few knew Seaver as well as Jerry Koosman, who pitched in the same rotation as him during the 1969 World Series, and who called the legend “a great leader of our team.”

“When he wasn’t pitching, he was always there to help the other guys on the staff,” said Koosman, who will soon join Seaver on the Mets' retired numbers wall. “He was a true professional.”

Others who passed through Flushing offered similar memories, including 1969 teammates Ed Kranepool, Ron Swoboda and Jerry Grote, as well as later Mets Dwight Gooden, David Wright and Jacob deGrom. The latter, who has spent the past few years chasing Seaver’s records, called him “definitely someone I look up to.”

“I am deeply saddened of the passing of Tom Seaver,” fellow Mets Hall of Famer Keith Hernandez, another of Seaver’s former broadcast partners, added on Twitter. “I had the honor of unsuccessfully hitting against him and having as a teammate. He is the greatest Met of all time. No one will ever surpass him that wears the orange and blue. My condolences to Nancy and his family. Tears.”

Don Mattingly, who played against Seaver after Seaver shifted to the American League in 1984, said he is always acutely aware of the Hall of Famer’s presence when he visits Citi Field.

“Every time you walk through the door there, it’s like, Tom Seaver Hall, with different pictures,” Mattingly said. “I noticed the other day, the look and the youth. How young he looked.”