They’ve been a team from day one: he’s a handsome, world-class athlete, it’s the beautiful blonde who’s always been by his side. Sometimes it was in the stands at Shea Stadium, where the cameras always seemed to find Nancy Seaver. In Tom Seaver’s best time as the Met, July 9, 1969, the moment he lost his imperfect match in the ninth inning, Channel 9 cameras snapped at Seaver’s sloping shoulders and shedding tears for Nancy.
This sometimes meant the cover of a magazine: McCall’s, People, and Esquire. Sometimes this meant that they were endorsing the products together. They were always together. They were 22 years old when they took over the big city together in 1967.
On Friday afternoon, for the last time, they said goodbye to the city, to the franchise, to the fans. together or together.
Hi Tom, said Nancy. “It’s great to be where you belong.”
Not long after that moment, A blue tarpaulin came out of the statue in the Citifield parking lot And there, for the world to see, for Mets fans to enjoy forever Beginning with their descent below the platform of the Seven Train, Tom Seaver was, mid-delivery, a stainless-steel baseball tightly held between his bronze fingertips, his right knee forever stained with stainless steel– Hard mud falling and driving another fastball across the world.
There was a calm in the blink of an eye, followed by panting. Then a roar, loud enough to be heard in all areas of baseball in New York that Tom Seaver touched while leading his team to the World Championships and himself into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
The Mets would surely have respected the mood of the moment, and they did, Crush Diamondbacks 10-3, providing the kind of attacking rush that Sefer himself was sure to use all those times he nursed 1-0 and 2-1. It helps that Arizona is the closest Major League Baseball can reach a perfect opening opponent at home, a team that lost 110 games last year and may use that number as a basis for this year.
They are the perfect opponent for homecoming.
But the Mets, when they play as they did on Friday, are able to make a lot of teams look foolish. They hit four runs, one on each side by Francisco Lindor. They had six solid innings from Chris Bassett, who only allowed one round to gain, however, and saw the Mets’ era among starting bowlers rise to 1.32.
For the overwhelming part of the day, the party was cheerful and cheerful among the fully-sold out crowd of 43,820 spectators, the ninth largest celebration in the stadium’s history.
(There were exceptions, of course. During the statue’s celebration Steve Cohen – who was greeted with a deafening roar, was included in his notes thanks to the Welbone and Katz families, and the boos could not have been louder if he had instead announced he was selling the statue to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.. Fans still at home weren’t greeted by Sean Red Foley’s two-time misadventures at nine.)
But the fans also stood by during the pre-game introductions – still certainly moved by Seaver’s hearty party and paying tribute to the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robson breaking the color barrier – giving Lindor a warm, extended salute. It did not go unnoticed.
“They’re just waiting to cuddle you,” Buck Showalter said of New York baseball fans.
“It was fantastic, to be welcomed by the biggest fan base out there,” Lindor said after his day 2 for 3 in a two-time walk and three runs recorded. “It was such a great feeling to hear my home audience cheering us on and cheering on the other guys.”
There is, of course, one man who knows and understands those chants better than anyone else. On the dark day it circulated in 1977, he broke down in tears at a press conference trying to utter what I felt: “You gave them so much excitement. And they were evenly returned.”
Friday, 55 years and three days after his debut as a volunteer, nearly 39 seasons after his last pitch as the Met, were brought back in. Sever wasn’t around to hear them. But Nancy was. As it should be. Once a team, always a team.
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