Tom Seaver’s wife Nancy heard one last roar for the legend of the Mets
They were a team since Day 1: he the handsome world-class athlete, she the beautiful blonde who was always by his side. Sometimes he was in the stands of Shea Stadium, where the cameras always seemed to find Nancy Seaver. In Tom Seaver’s finest hour as the Met, July 9, 1969, in the instant after losing his imperfect match in the ninth inning, Channel 9 cameras caught Seaver’s slumped shoulders and Nancy burst into tears.
Sometimes it meant a magazine cover: McCall’s, People, Esquire. Sometimes it meant they were approving products together. They were always together. They were both 22 when they faced the big city together in 1967.
On Friday afternoon, for the last time, they greeted the city, the franchise, the fans. Together.
“Hi Tom,” Nancy said. “It’s so nice to have you where you belong.”
Not long after, the blue tarpaulin detached from the statue in the Citi Field parking lot and there, under the eyes of the whole world, for the Mets fans to have eternal fun starting with their descent down the 7 train track, there it was Tom Seaver, half-handed, the stainless steel baseball gripped in his bronze fingers, his right knee forever stained with stainless steel mud as he falls and drives another fastball over the world.
For a half blink of an eye there was silence, followed by a gasp. And then a roar, loud enough to be heard throughout New York’s baseball districts, that Tom Seaver touched as he led his team to the World Series and himself to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
The Mets would certainly have honored the mood of the moment, and they did, crushing the Diamondbacks 10-3, providing the kind of offensive outlet that Seaver himself could certainly have used all those times he was curing 1-0 and 2- 1 leads. He helps that Arizona is the closest major league baseball to a perfect foe for home opener, a team that lost 110 games last year and could use that as a base figure this year.
I’m the perfect homecoming opponent.
But the Mets, when they play like they did on Friday, are capable of making many teams look foolish. They scored four home runs, one on each side of Francisco Lindor. They got six excellent innings from Chris Bassitt, who conceded only one earned run but, even so, saw the ERA of the Mets among their starting pitchers rise to 1.32.
For most of the day, it was a joyful and well-being party amid the exhausted crowd of 43,820 spectators, the ninth largest in the stadium’s history.
(There were exceptions, of course. During the statue ceremony Steve Cohen, who was greeted with a deafening roar, included thanks to the Wilpon and Katz families in his comments, and the boos couldn’t have been louder if he had instead announced he was selling the statue at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, and poor Sean Reid-Foley’s two-run mishap in ninth place wasn’t exactly met with peaceful zen by fans still in the house.)
But the fans also stood up during the pre-game introductions – still certainly touched by Seaver’s well-being ceremony and Jackie Robison’s 75th anniversary tribute breaking the color barrier – they gave Lindor a warm and friendly welcome. extended greeting. He did not go unnoticed.
“They’re waiting to hug you,” Buck Showalter said of New York baseball fans.
“It was great to be welcomed by the largest fan base out there,” Lindor said after his 2 for 3 day with two walks and three points scored. “It was great to hear from my home crowd cheering for us and cheering on the other guys.”
There is, of course, a man who knows those cheers, who understands them, better than anyone else. On the dark day he was traded in 1977 he burst into tears at a press conference trying to verbalize how he felt: “I gave them a lot of chills. And they have also been returned.
On Friday, 55 years old and three days after his debut as the Met, nearly 39 seasons after he launched his last launch as the Met, they are back again. Seaver wasn’t there to hear them. But Nancy was. How it should be. Once a team, always a team.