WEST PALM – Mets manager Mickey Callaway stepped into the media huddle and began his daily postgame press conference with a somber statement.
Hall of Fame pitcher and legendary Met Tom Seaver has been diagnosed with dementia, the Seaver family announced on Thursday. Seaver will continue to work in his beloved vineyard at his California home, but has chosen to completely retire from public life.
“To have such a special baseball player, such a special pitcher, a legend of the game of baseball, be a Met is a tremendous honor for our organization,” Callaway said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to he and his family.”
Callaway never met Seaver, but his legacy is eternally stitched into Citi Field. Tom Terrific carved through batters with the Mets, Reds, White Sox and Red Sox for 20 major league seasons. The Mets retired Seaver’s jersey (No. 41) in 1988.
Seaver, 74, led the Mets to their first World Series championship in club history in 1969 – winning 25 games en route to his first of three Cy Young seasons. This year, the Mets celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘69 championship team. The Mets had hoped Seaver could attend the upcoming ceremony in June.
“We’ve been in contact with the Seaver family and are aware of his health situation,” Jeff Wilpon said of behalf of the Mets ownership and organization in a statement. “Although, he’s unable to attend the ’69 Anniversary, we are planning to honor him in special ways and have included his family in our plans. Our thoughts are with Tom, Nancy and the entire Seaver Family.”
The news of Seaver’s dementia rocked the Mets family and the baseball world on Thursday.
“So sad to hear Tom Seaver has dementia,” Mike Piazza said on Twitter. “He will always be the heart and soul of the Mets, the standard which all Mets aspire to, this breaks my heart. Do not feel worthy to be mentioned in the same breath, yet honored to be with him in the baseball Hall of Fame.”
Seaver was nicknamed “The Franchise” for defining the Mets during an uncharted era. He won the ERA title with the Mets in 1970, ‘71 and ‘73. In ‘92, Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the highest percentage of votes ever recorded at the time with 98.84 percent.
“I really didn’t get a chance to interact with him, but anybody struggling with that, just wish the best for him,” Brandon Nimmo said. “And he’s a part of the Mets family, will always be a part of the Mets family. I know that he’ll be helped immensely and we’ll all be praying for him.”
Seaver is cemented in New York as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball history.