He was my favorite player. He was the greatest right-handed pitcher of the modern baseball era: twelve-time All Star; three-time Cy Young Award winner; 311-game winner; 2.86 career ERA; more than 3,000 strikeouts; recipient of the highest-ever percentage of votes, 98.84, of any Hall of Fame member. I proudly own many of his baseball cards (I used to own his rookie card — thanks, Mom), including one that is autographed. Take some time and read this wonderful and insightful article on Tom Seaver by Pat Jordan. A few morsels are offered below.
“When Tom was pitching for the White Sox, as he was approaching his 300th win, he was warming up in the bullpen before a game. Dave Duncan, the pitching coach, watched him throw. He shook his head and said, ‘Tom, you don’t have shit.’ Tom said, ‘Yeah, so what?’ Tom pointed to the other team’s dugout and said, ‘They don’t know that! So what’s the problem? By the time they find out, it’ll be too late.'”
“Big Willie McCovey, waiting at the plate, the bat on his shoulder. Tom said, ‘This is my all-time favorite moment in baseball. I managed to get 3-2 on Willie, and all of a sudden, it came to me. I’m in my stretch, and I keep checking the runner on first. Now, everyone knows the runner can’t go anywhere, the fucking bases are loaded, so what is Seaver doing? I keep checking him, refusing to make eye contact with Willie, throwing him a little birdseed, getting him to think, “What the fuck is Seaver doing?” I wanted him to be anxious, confused.’
“He stopped talking. I blurted out, ‘So what happened!’
“‘I struck him out on a changeup. Twenty years later, we’re at the Hall of Fame, and Willie says to me, “Tom, why the hell did you throw me a changeup in that game?'”
“‘Why did you?’ I said. ‘You broke your own rule.’
“‘That’s the point, big boy. Everyone knew how methodical I was. How this pitch had to be a fastball. I was Tom Seaver. So this time, I went on instinct.’ He looked at me with a grin. ‘Even Tom Seaver has to acknowledge mystery in life.'”
Don’t miss it.