Mets legend Tom Seaver passes away at age 75

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Hall of Famer Tom Seaver is introduced at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 24, 2011 in Cooperstown, New York. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images/TNS)

Christa Dutton

On Thursday, Sept. 3, the Mets took the field for their game against the Yankees. Each of the Met’s players ran out of the dugout, their right knees all symbolically dirtied with mud. This was the way that the Mets players of today paid tribute to a Mets legend that came before them. 

The legend they were remembering was Tom Seaver, who died on Monday, Aug. 31, due to complications from Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. The dirtied right knee was the perfect tribute to Seaver because his knee always had mud on it while he pitched. It was the signature of the “drop and drive” pitching style that he popularized. As he powerfully followed through on a pitch, pushing off his right leg, his right knee would scrape the mound, leaving a smudge of dirt on his pants. Seaver was a Mets icon and one of the greatest to ever play the game. Seaver represented the Mets so well that his name eventually became synonymous to the Mets franchise as he earned the nicknames “The Franchise,” and “Tom Terrific.” Seaver acquired many accolades over his highly successful career. He was the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year, a three time Cy Young Award winner, 12-time All-Star, a 1969 World Series champion and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. He dominated his position as pitcher and he influenced the technique of many players who came after him. His pitching style was smooth, mechanic, consistent and strong. He was a player who played thoughtfully and strategically, analyzing his batter and stressing the details. His spot is well-deserved in the Hall of Fame, and his name deserves to be remembered. 

Perhaps Seaver’s most memorable achievement was the way he led the ‘69 Mets to a World Series title. The Mets went from a struggling ragtag team to a solid ball club full of young potential. They capitalized on that talent and pulled out a World Series championship win. That season was an underdog success story that felt straight out of a feel good movie. People joke that everyone in America became a Mets fan that year just to feel some excitement for themselves. This team reminded a very worn and fatigued America that anything can happen. That year’s team was coined the “Miracle Mets.” That name is a bit deceiving, though, because a World Series title is not achieved by a miracle, it is achieved by hard work, unity, and grit — all attributes that Seaver brought to this team. 

His legacy, however, reaches far beyond his baseball talent. Not only was Seaver a phenomenal athlete, he was also a stand-up guy. He was a hero that Little Leaguers wanted to be like when they grew up. He was a gentleman and a respected family man. His teammates and coaches valued him as a friend as much as they did a player. The Mets fan base and baseball community grieve one of the greatest to ever play the game. It is often said, “athletes die twice — once when they take their last breath and once when they hang it up.” Seaver, however, we grieve thrice. Once when he hung up his cleats, and again when he went away from the public eye because of his struggles with dementia. And now we grieve him yet again, this time for the final time as he passes on from this life.