Oct. 31, 1973: Tom Seaver wins second Cy Young Award

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

In an era where victories were the main gauge of a pitcher’s success, Tom Seaver’s brilliance on the mound allowed him to buck the trend.

On Oct. 31, 1973, Seaver – the New York Mets ace – became the first pitcher in history to win the Cy Young Award without having at least 20 victories in that season. Seaver took home the NL Cy Young following a 19-10 campaign that saw him lead the National League in earned-run average (2.08), complete games (18) and strikeouts (251) but finish five games back of league-leader Ron Bryant in the win column.

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“I really didn’t think I’d win it. I was really surprised,” Seaver told United Press International. “I thought it would be between Bryant and (Mike) Marshall, because of the 19 wins and I figured I hadn’t done enough. But a lot of people remembered what I had done earlier in the season.”

Marshall, who won 14 games and saved 31 more in 92 appearances with the Expos, and Bryant, who was 24-12 with the Giants, finished second and third, respectively, in the voting. Seaver’s 71 votes were 17 more than Marshall and 21 more than Bryant.

“I’d been hoping for it,” Bryant told UPI. “But Seaver’s definitely a reasonable choice. He had a good year.”

Seaver was 15-6 with a 1.78 ERA on Aug. 15, but went 4-4 down the stretch as his workload – which reached 290.0 innings that year – began to take its toll. Still, Seaver made four starts combined in the NLCS and World Series that year, striking out 35 in 31.2 innings and leading the Mets to within one game of the title when they lost to the Athletics in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.

“I’m very, very happy about winning the award because of the name that’s on it and what it means: The best pitcher in the National League,” Seaver said. “Sure I’m disappointed I wasn’t effective down the stretch. But I thought I pitched exceptionally well up until the last few weeks of the season when the amount of work and fatigue caught up with me. In fact, I felt that I pitched better than ever before in my career. But I still get to the point where I think I can do more than I can.”

With the announcement, Seaver became the fourth pitcher to win Cy Young more than once, following Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965-66); Bob Gibson (1968, 1970); and Denny McLain (1968-69).

“Sandy Koufax won the award three times and I’ve won it twice and have a chance to win it a third time,” said Seaver, who would go on to win his third Cy Young Award in 1975. “I hope I can pitch until I’m 35. When I started, I told my wife I’d be happy with five years in the big leagues. Things were different then when I broke in. Now I’m a winning pitcher.”

Seaver would pitch until age 41, retiring with a record of 311-205, a 2.86 ERA and 3,640 strikeouts.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series