New York Mets: Tom Seaver will forever be the link connecting generations of Mets fans

New York Mets. Tom Seaver. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
New York Mets. Tom Seaver. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

There are very few players in baseball history who mean as much to a franchise as Tom  Seaver means to the New York Mets. While the legend has been given a bad break health wise, his legacy will never stop being cemented.

At no point in time will it ever be wrong to talk about Tom Seaver and what he has meant to the New York Mets. While every list ranking the “best” is subjective, Tom Seaver is almost definitively the “best.” No conversation about the history of the New York Mets can be held without understanding what this man has done.

Although he now has to retire from the public life, he will never retire from leaving his mark on Mets fans for generations to come. Here is my story on that.

The New York Mets, as a franchise, are almost everything but themselves. They are basically the product of two teams leaving and playing second fiddle to the Yankees who were winning World Titles well before the Mets were even a thought. While the New York Mets have turned into the team we have all learned to love and a staple of the iconic New York City, it was not without struggle. For that, we need to go way back.

Baseball in New York has long been the home of legends. From Ruth, to Mays, to Seaver, to Reggie, to Jeter, to Wright and so forth, this is a baseball city, there is no way around that. A city who is now going to rally around one of its greatest heroes, Tom Seaver.

This is a story, not a story about his disease, not a story about his impressive career numbers and or Hall of Fame career. This is a story about his legacy. His legacy that is so powerful. This is a story about how he will forever be the link that connects Mets fans for generations to come. It is a long one, but he deserves that.

While I have never met Tom Seaver, nor have I ever seen him pitch live, I still know what he means to the Mets. Whether it be through association, word of mouth, old tapes, or simply seeing his 41 every time I go to Citi Field to watch the Mets today, I know how outstanding he was and how important he still is.

To start, I have a grandfather who grew up in baseball. He once was invited to a camp hosted by the then New York Giants. He was a good player. But, on top of that, he once had a job where he collected ticket stubs at the old Ebbets Field, which, as you know, is where the Brooklyn Dodgers played. Fun fact, also the design that inspired the main entrance to Citi Field.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were his life. Then, they up and left. He couldn’t just become a Yankees fan, it didn’t work like that back then, and it still doesn’t work like that now.

Fast forward a few seasons, the Mets came along in 1962. My grandpa almost didn’t even want to become a Mets fan. He still just couldn’t get over the disgust of the Dodgers leaving his home market for the sunny state of California. But, obviously his, and many other opinions, would drastically change once the Mets got better.

From the Dodgers leaving in 1957 to the Mets arriving, along came my dad in July of the Mets’ infamously record breaking first season in 1962. He was engulfed into the Mets, but doesn’t remember the early, darker days of the franchise. But eventually, the Mets became a staple of what would set the tone for his entire existence of a life.

The only reason the Mets became important, to old New York baseball fans and new ones is because of Tom Seaver. He arrived in 1967 and two years later the Mets would be World Champions, during the 100th season of MLB baseball, nonetheless.

While the 1969 World Title is long over and we will celebrate its 50th anniversary this season, its importance to the game is unique for how unlikely it was at the time, it put the Mets on the map. It made them important. It made them important to people like my grandfather who had his team taken away from him. It created the first great memory for people like my dad, fans who are just as old as the team.

My grandfather didn’t want to like the Mets. He was a lifelong Brooklyn fan. But he gave the Mets a chance. That is all he could have done. That, as a direct correlation, made my dad a fan. He might have not stuck around for as long as he had if it were not for his favorite player of all-time, to this day, Tom Seaver. I think that is the case for a lot of people.

But, you have to look at it even now. Today, Mets baseball is running deep into its third generation. Myself has become a Mets fan, or at the very least an enthusiast when I have to be professional. But, I still have Tom Seaver to thank for that.

I didn’t even grow up in the Seaver/Ryan era. I didn’t get to see the Doc/Darryl era. Piazza is the first Mets I remember, but it is still not him. David Wright is the face of the Mets for people like me, a third generation Mets/baseball fan.

But still, this is about Tom Seaver.

Because even if I didn’t follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, even if I got myself into the Mets and it had nothing to do with them, then I guess the person I would have to thank the most is David Wright, the standard he set for Mets fans engulfed into this era. But, guess what? Wright is unique in his own way, but all he did was come the closet to setting the standard for greatness as a Met that Seaver set. Greatness does not exist without a standard. That standard for the blue and orange is Tom Seaver.

So, even if you take a mew Mets fan, whose first memory will five years from now, where does that take them? Perhaps the face of that wave of Mets fans will be Jacob deGrom, maybe it’ll be Michael Conforto. Who knows, but in order for them to be considered, it’ll be people from my generation talking about David Wright and how he set the standard for me.

People might be talking about Mike Piazza even, for his number is actually up there with Seaver’s and the standard he set. But, no matter what, all of them, and all of that, is because of the standard for greatness that Tom Seaver set that those Mets legends behind him strived for.

He was the first true great Mets player. The irreplaceable piece to the team that put the Mets on the map and made them not a joke to all the baseball fans who desperately needed them. People like my grandfather.

He kept older fans around, created newer fans during his time, and set the standard for “favorite Mets player” for every generation after he retired. Whoever that may be. That will be the case five, ten, fifteen, thirty years from now. The standard is set. Everyone will need to strive to be like Tom to make it in this city and to resonate with this fan base.

He made people be Mets fans for life. He made a guy who use to work at Ebbets field, a guy who eventually became a baseball/sports writer himself, have a baseball team again. He made that guy pass it on to his son who ended up loving the team his whole life and passing down to even another generation.

As someone who loves the Mets, and cares how they are presented and sharing what they mean, almost more than anything else, I one day wish to keep the tradition of Mets fan hood in my family alive one day too. My bloodline is why I am proud to use the “Jr.” part of my name on my bylines, I owe it to my father who passed down his love of baseball to me, who got it from his dad, who often bonded over Tom Seaver.

But, once again, it is Tom Seaver who is that link. The link that brought generations of Mets together.

And while this is not supposed to be a piece about his disease, and this is for sure not intended to be a piece about a me, an aspiring sports writer who you may or may not care about, this is a piece about Tom Seaver, a legend who you definitely should care about.

Of all the sad stories that are coming out about his incredible career and all the stories he might one day forget, perhaps the best the story I have is the one that he has never even heard me tell. He doesn’t even know, nor will he likely ever learn about the impact he has on my life.

But, that is the thing about legends. Legends are forever. No matter what, everything they have ever done, and everything that they do for people is always remembered. Perhaps the fact that no one will ever forget him is the sickest fate one could imagine.

But at the end of the day, nothing will ever define Tom Seaver more than just simply how great of a pitcher he was and how much he does for the New York Mets. That is the thing that will always define Tom Seaver. That is the power of sports. Sports are supposed to bring people together for the greater good. Mets fans are supposed to stay loyal through the good, bad, indifferent.

Luckily for me, nothing brings me closer to my family than the New York Mets. I was put on this earth to be a sports writer, which that same grandfather also was, and the Mets happen to be a massive part of that all. But none of that is likely possible without Tom Seaver. He saved baseball for a lot of people and will do for a very long-time.

While this story was me telling my story, I hope the main point got across. This is not the reason that I wanted to tell my story. I don’t think my story is even interesting enough to ever tell. But Tom Seaver impacted my life forever. While I don’t speak for every Mets fan, I think he impacted a lot of people’s lives in a million other possible ways.

Tom Seaver will always be the link that connects Mets fans for generations to come, the Mets are what runs deep in people’s blood and a lot of it started with him. It is not easy to compare him to anyone else, because I don’t think he simply can be compared to anyone else. He stands alone in Mets immortality.

And while this bad break might seem like some kind of end, there is no end in the Tom Seaver story. There is no end to his impact on the Mets. His impact is always. For that, we must all try to appreciate a legacy so great, a connection so strong, across so many generations to come.

Do you have any Tom Seaver stories? What did he mean to you? Feel free to tell yours in the comments below or find us on Twitter or Facebook. We would love to hear them!

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As always thanks for reading, this one is important to me.