Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver spent one season with the Red Sox.
Tom Seaver has passed on at age 75. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is one of the best in baseball history and the righty had a lengthy career with 20 years including his last season with the Boston Red Sox.
The 1986 Red Sox came close – so close that the Mets in the World Series had anointed them champions – only to have it whisked away. Another season becoming a victim of the curse. Too bad Seaver was not on the roster to face his former team which was the foundation of his legacy.
The Red Sox needed pitching depth – don’t they always – and traded Steve Lyons to the Chicago White Sox to get Seaver. Seaver, who was then 41-years-old, moved into the rotation and made 16 starts for Boston, going 5-7 with a 3.80 ERA.
Seaver’s fastball had somewhat deserted him about a decade prior to Boston, but now he was best noted as a wily veteran. He was good and at times very good for the Red Sox and occasionally could heat one up. I was fortunate enough to see a few of his Fenway Park starts just as I had seen Seaver in his baseball prime.
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I had seen Seaver in his salad days with the Mets and Seaver had the total package – great control, multiple pitches, bulldog tenacity, and dirty knees. The knees are what I remember most as Seaver would drive so hard on his pitches his right leg would often drag against the ground. And what cost Seaver a shot at the Mets in 1986 was his knee – a sore knee prevented Seaver from taking the mound.
Boston was not done with Seaver but Seaver was done with Boston. The issue was the usual issue – money. Seaver’s 1986 contract – signed with the White Sox – was for $1 million. Seaver wished his 1987 compensation to be the same, but the Red Sox offered $500,000. End of the Red Sox relationship and Seaver became a free-agent. Too bad Tom Yawkey was not around as Seaver would have had another curtain call and may have helped in 1987 for a team that really needed it.
Another benefit of Seaver was his influence as a mentor on a Red Sox hurler who was often compared to Seaver – Roger Clemens. Both had a similar style and Clemens someday would be faced with that transitional phase from thrower to pitcher which Seaver accomplished rather well
Seaver was technically not done and the Mets in 1987 attempted to bring Seaver back when their staff was in difficult times. Seaver got lit up in an exhibition outing and called it a career sling into other baseball options – primarily broadcasting.