The Passing of the Franchise
I woke up this morning to a string of text messages announcing something I had already known.
At about 5 p.m. Wednesday I got a phone call from a close friend who and after a quick exchange delivered the news. “The Franchise” is gone is all he said and it took me a few seconds before it sunk in: Tom Seaver had died.
My friend William, like me a devoted Mets fan (and sufferer) has ties to the Seaver family and he was sharing the awful news with someone he knew could relate to what this loss meant. In full disclosure I was also told I had to keep it to myself as it would be hours before it became public knowledge that Seaver had died earlier this week in his sleep at the age of 75 from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19.
George Thomas Seaver was so good that he had two nicknames which stuck for most of his entire adult life. I actually liked “The Franchise” over “Tom Terrific” but you could pick either because they both told the story of what he meant to the Mets and legions of New York baseball fans.
He was the handsome California kid who became a Met by the luck of the draw and at the age of 24 in 1969 won 25 games and the Cy Young Award while pitching the Mets to the most improbable World Series title in the history of Major League Baseball.
Baseball is a game of numbers and Seaver has plenty of them in a Hall of Fame career that should have been spent only pitching in Flushing but in true Mets fashion the front office let him get away twice and play for the Reds, White Sox and Red Sox. It doesn’t really matter. He was, is and always will be a Met and there will never be another like him.
Yankee fans can debate who was the greatest player in franchise history, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter. There is no debate for those of us who love the Amazin’ Mets as the gap between Seaver and the next player is as wide as the Mississippi River.
I did meet him once during an appearance at the Ocean County Mall and to be honest I was a bit disappointed that he sort of blew-off my obvious adulation for him but I guess when you're “Tom Terrific” you’ve heard that time and time again. However his autographed picture remains something I will treasure forever and so are the memories I have of #41 on the mound at Shea Stadium.