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On This Date in Sports April 5, 1983: Seaver's Return

in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

It is a grand homecoming for Tom Seaver as he makes the start for the New York Mets against the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day at Shea Stadium. Traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977, the Mets reacquired Seaver in the offseason, sending for Jason Felice, Lloyd McLendon, and Charlie Puleo. Tom Seaver pitched six scoreless innings and got a no-decision, as the Mets won 2-0. 

Born George Thomas Seaver on November 17, 1944, in Fresno, California. Tom Seaver played at Fresno City College while serving in the Marine Reserves. He later pitched at USC, where he began to catch the eye of Major League scouts. Turning down an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers after being taken in the tenth round of the 1965 draft, Seaver was selected again by the Atlanta Braves in the January draft. Though Tom Seaver signed with Atlanta, his contract was voided because he appeared in two games with the Trojans. Seaver had wanted to pitch at USC but lost his eligibility due to signing with the Braves. 

MLB decided to hold a lottery for Tom Seaver, with the New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, and Philadelphia Phillies having their names placed in a hat. The Mets would win the drawing. After a year in the minors, Tom Seaver made his debut for the Mets in 1967, winning the Rookie of the Year. Two years later, Seaver won 25 games and captured the Cy Young as the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series. 

Over the next decade, Tom Seaver became one of the best pitchers, in baseball winning the Cy Young in 1973 and 1975. Along the way, Seaver had nine straight seasons of 200 strikeouts, becoming known as ‘’The Franchise’’ for the Mets. In 1977, Tom Seaver had a contract dispute that led to him being traded on June 15, 1977. In what was called the “Midnight Massacre’’ the Mets received Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn, Dan Norman, and Steve Henderson in return.

 In Cincinnati, Tom Seaver tossed the only No-Hitter of his career in 1978. He remained one of the top pitchers in baseball, finishing second in Cy Young voting after a 14-2 record in 1981. In 1982, Seaver was beset by injuries and had the worst season of his career at 5-13 with a 5.50 ERA. The Reds were looking to rebuild put Tom Seaver on the block. The Mets who were in the midst of seven straight losing seasons reacquired Seaver from the Reds on December 16, 1982. 

Tom Seaver’s return brought 46,687 fans to Shea Stadium for Opening Day to see the franchise back in his familiar #41. Seaver found himself in a pitcher’s duel with Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies. Seaver allowed three hits with five strikeouts in six innings. The Mets finally broke through against Carlton in the seventh inning as Mike Howard singled home Dave Kingman, while Hubie Brooks scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Giles. Doug Sisk, who allowed two hits in three innings, earned the win, as the Mets won 2-0. 

Tom Seaver had his struggles with the Mets in 1983, posting a record of 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA and 135 strikeouts. The following winter saw the Mets leaver Tom Seaver unprotected in the free-agent compensation pool. At the time, teams that lost a free agent can choose any unprotected player from any team whether or not they signed a free agent. The Mets assumed nobody would claim the 39-year-old coming off two losing seasons, and saddled with a big contract. They were wrong, as the Chicago White Sox claimed Seaver.