For 10 years and two months as a New York Met he had created dramatic moments that others could savor with him, but this one Tom Seaver decided to reserve for himself. The significance of his first start for the Cincinnati Reds did not elude him. "I was beginning the second part of my career," he would say a couple of hours later. "I wanted to look around and remember what I saw." And so he stood on the mound at Montreal's Olympic Stadium for an extra minute, taking it all in, all the sights and sounds that told him he was now a Red. Only then did he get ready to throw his first pitch.
And how he threw. Seaver pitched a complete game, a shutout, a three-hitter, a 6-0 victory. He struck out eight and did not walk a Montreal batter. And at the plate, he had two hits, including a bases-loaded single that drove in two Cincinnati runs.
"The money was always secondary to my loyalty to the Mets," Seaver told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Kent Hannon last week. "The people who think I was bitter about not making more money or who think I was trying to force a trade by asking that my contract be renegotiated won't believe me. But for the record, my loyalty to the Mets and my desire to make them competitive always came first. I don't think I've shown myself to be a greedy person."
Seaver's disagreement on these points with Met Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant and General Manager Joe McDonald was so intense that it spilled like hot lava into the New York press. Seaver even charged that constant criticism directed at him by Daily News Sports Editor and Columnist Dick Young was one of the reasons he wanted to leave the team. Nevertheless, Young's support of Grant and McDonaldâ€”the Met executives perceive Young as their man in the pressâ€”was not much different in degree from the boosting of Seaver that appeared in the other two New York papers. On the day Seaver was traded, Youngâ€”whose detractors have claimed his views are colored by the fact that his son-in-law works in the Mets' front officeâ€”wrote that the pitcher was "very deceptive" and "very greedy." The next afternoon Maury Allen of the New York Post responded, "It is Young who forced the deal, who urged Grant on, who participated strongly in the unmaking of Tom Seaver as a Met."
Whoever was responsible for Seaver's departure, Met fans were furious. Even before the negotiations were completed, they flooded the Shea Stadium switchboard with complaints. The night after the trade, they welcomed the team home from a road trip with signs reading BURY GRANTâ€”BRING BACK OUR TOM and with leaflets suggesting a boycott of home games until Seaver returned on Aug. 19 with Cincinnati. "On that occasion," the flyer read, "we urge all true Met fans to attend that game to show Tom our appreciation for the many magnificent performances he has given us."
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This blog aims to be a little different. We're less likely to complain about a pitching change than we are likely to complain about what the pitcher was wearing.
We're about Mets history and tradition. We'd like to see a Seaver statue at Citi Field. We'd like the black uniforms to go away. We'd like the team to always treat the fans with respect.
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