Tom Seaver Announces His Retirement
He won about every award there was to win, and broke about every record there was to break. Winning two more Cy Young Awards, he would make 10 All-Star teams, win 311 games (and five 20-win seasons), compile 3,137 strike outs, pitch a no-hitter and finish his career with a 2.86 ERA. And in 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the highest voting percentage ever received up to that point – 98.84 percent.
And in case the numbers weren’t good enough, he had references to back them up. Journalists called him the next Christy Mathewson or Sandy Koufax. Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Bert Blyleven and Don Sutton unanimously named him the best pitcher of their generation in an ESPN poll.
Yet to evaluate Tom Seaver solely based on stats would only be half of the equation. Because for Seaver, all of the awards he won, all of the records he broke, were only important as long as they helped the team win.
“The thing is to be able to keep the club in the ball game,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer after debuting as a Red Sox in 1986. “That’s what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned. If we win [the pennant] and I finish the season 7-11, that’s fine with me.”
Which is why when Red Sox manager John McNamara took out of the game after giving up 3 runs through four innings on Sept. 19, 1986 – the last big league game of his career – Tom Seaver wasn’t bitter, or upset. Rather, he understood and respected the decision.
He would end his baseball career where he started it – on the New York Mets. Suffering from a depleted rotation, the Mets approached him in 1987. But after a couple of rough outings while pitching for the Triple-A Tidewater, he announced his retirement.
“That’s not a sad situation from my standpoint,” Seaver said. “I think it’s a very self-satisfying and gratifying situation because I can reflect for the rest of my life that I got every ounce out of it that I was supposed to get out of it.”
Alex Coffey was the communications specialist for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum