Tom Seaver, Legendary Mets Pitcher, Remembered in Greenwich
By: Richard Kaufman
Tom Seaver, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, passed away at his home in California on Aug. 31 due to complications from Lewy Body dementia and COVID-19. Seaver was diagnosed with dementia in 2019, and subsequently retired from public life. He was 75 years old.
Nicknamed “Tom Terrific” and “The Franchise”, Seaver played 20 seasons for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox from 1967 to 1986.
Seaver is considered to be the greatest Met of all-time. He put the franchise on the map when he led the Mets to their first winning season and first World Series championship in 1969. That year, he went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA, and won the National League Cy Young Award. He finished second in the MVP voting.
For his career, Seaver went 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA, made 12 all-star teams, and won three Cy Young Awards. Seaver was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with 98.8 % of the vote.
In 1970, Seaver moved to Greenwich, where he lived with his wife Nancy for 25 years. The two lived on Round Hill Road for a while, and did a lot of charity work in town. Seaver also belonged to Greenwich Country Club. Eventually, Seaver moved to California where he started his own wine business.
First Selectman, Fred Camillo, a diehard Yankees fan, met Seaver years ago as a child.
“The greatest right-handed pitcher I ever saw pitch was a familiar face here in Greenwich for decades. I knew him as a young kid and the awe I had in his presence quickly disappeared as the young hurler went out of his way to be just another resident,” Camillo said. “Over the years, as he grew older, he seemed to like the normalcy that retirement afforded him. While he moved out of town several years ago to follow another passion of his, running a vineyard, he will always be special to Greenwich.”
Fred and Jeff Willpon, owners of the Mets, issued a joint statement last week after the news of Seaver’s passing broke. Jeff is a resident of Greenwich.
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Mets legend and baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Tom was nicknamed ‘Tom Terrific’ because of how valuable he was to our organization and our loyal fans, as his number 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 which culminated with his near unanimous induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” the statement read in part.
Dan Quigley, Representative Town Meeting member, Republican Town Committee Chairmain, and lifelong Mets fan, spoke fondly about Seaver and what he meant to his favorite team and his hometown of Greenwich.
“As a young kid when I really got into baseball, the Mets were terrible. These were the dark years after the Mets traded Seaver to the Reds. I never really remembered him in his prime pitching for the Mets,” Quigley said. “When the Mets got him back in 1983, I remember the game he pitched on Opening Day when he beat the Phillies. That was like the return of the prodigal son. I had always known about Tom Seaver and knew how great he was.”
Seaver gave the Mets franchise respect and credibility. The New York Yankees had dominated baseball in the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s. The Mets were an expansion team trying to prove themselves before Seaver arrived in the late 60’s.
“When he was a rookie, the Mets got respect, they had an all-star, they had a Rookie of the Year. You knew every fifth day you had probably the best pitcher in baseball pitching. To me, Tom Seaver was sort of the Babe Ruth of the Mets,” Quigley added.
As a child, Quigley used to attend St. Michael’s Church on North Street — the same church Seaver went to. Quigley made communion with one of Seaver’s daughters.
“I went up to him a few times wearing my Mets hat, I was always a little shy. He would see it and say, ‘Hey, you’re a Mets fan?’ and I’d say, ‘Absolutely!'” Quigley recalled.
Seaver meant a lot not just to the Mets, but to Greenwich.
“We’ve had famous people live in Greenwich. I think people in Greenwich have always been respectful of celebrities that are here. I think Tom Seaver sort of transcended it, because having a famous person live in your hometown is one thing, but he was really a hero to Mets fans. He was the guy,” Quigley said. “It’s always a matter of pride for the town to have someone like him here. He sent his kids to school here, he was involved in charities, he became part of the community, he didn’t shy away from the community. I think people noticed that over the years.”
Last week, during the Mets’ first game after the news of Seaver’s passing, every Met smudged dirt on their right knee in honor of Seaver. Known for his drop-and-drive delivery to home plate, Seaver regularly had dirt on his right pant leg at the knee. The Mets will wear commemorative patches for the rest of this season.
Last year, the Mets changed the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way. They also announced that they commissioned a statue of Seaver to be erected outside of the stadium. It will likely be put up in 2021.