Former Central Valley legend passes away

September 5, 2020

Courtesy of Fresno City College sports
Fresno native Tom Seaver spent 1964 pitching for the Fresno City College Rams before a 20-year Hall of Fame career.

Not only was the Central Valley baseball and sports community in mourning Wednesday upon hearing Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, 75, passed away, but the entire baseball community mourned his passing, as well.


Seaver began his illustrious baseball career at Fresno High School before playing for the Fresno City College Rams in 1964. After Fresno City, he attended USC.


It was an equally tough day for Rams head coach Ron Scott, a former Madera Coyotes baseball coach. Seaver’s death fell on the one-year anniversary of assistant baseball coach Sam Flores. 


“Tom Seaver is the Greatest Baseball Player that ever put on a Fresno City College Baseball uniform,” Scott said in a statement. “When opposing teams walked onto our park  and saw the names on the wall, they always said, ‘Wow! Tom Seaver went here?’  He was a First Ballot Hall of Famer!! Our thoughts and prayers are with the Seaver Family.”


Seaver was a first-ballot Hall of Famer garnering more than 98 percent of the vote, the most of any player before him. 


It was ironic how Seaver ended up the with Mets, then the worst team in baseball. He had originally been drafted by the Atlanta Braves, but he signed his professional contract while he was still at USC, which was against Major League Baseball rules at the team. He was then put into a lottery to any team that matched what the Braves’ contract was and the Mets won the lottery. 


Nicknamed “The Franchise,” Seaver turned the Mets’ organization around in three short years. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967 by going 16-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 251 innings. 


He won the first of his three Cy Young awards in 1969 by going 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeouts in 273 1/3 innings pitched while leading the Mets to the World Series championship.


He struck out a career high 289 batters in 1971 while going 20-10 with a career-best 1.76 ERA. 


Seaver ended up pitching 11 years with the Mets. He was traded to the Reds and spent five years there before he was traded back to the Mets. He was chosen by the Chicago White Sox in 1984 as a free agent compensation pick. He was traded three years later to the Boston Red Sox where he went 7-13 in his final season before retiring after the 1986 season. 


He compiled 311 wins against 205 losses in his career with a 2.86 ERA. he struck out 3,640 batters and led the league in strikeouts five times.


Seaver was a 12-time All-Star game selection. He is currently seventh all-time in WAR (wins above replacement) for pitchers, 18th in wins, ninth in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts and seventh in shutouts.


Seaver is survived by his wife Nancy and daughters Sarah and Annie. In his post-baseball career, Seaver started his own vineyard, Seaver Family Vineyard, and created his first vintage in 2005.

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