The New York Mets and the Legend of Tom Terrific

This year’s Hall of Fame vote saw history in the making. Ken Griffey, Jr. behind a whopping 99.3% of the vote entered the Hall of Fame with the highest amount of yeses in the history of the game.

So, now there is a new trivia question. The answer to “Who has the most votes in Hall of Fame history?” is no longer the same answer it had been for the past 24 years.

Tom Seaver is out, and The Kid is in.

It doesn’t take away from the greatness of the mighty righty flamethrower who almost single handedly (or was it single-armedly?) led the New York Mets to relevance. Seaver’s career in New York was much like those Miracle Mets… Amazin’.

Still, he was one of the least likely people to sit atop the Hall of Fame top vote charts for 24 years. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax. If that was who garnered the most votes in MLB history, it would make more sense, but instead Tom Terrific held the dubious honor for a very long time.

Maybe that’s because he was one of the greatest right handed pitchers to ever play the game. He won three Cy Young Awards and should have won a fourth. Two of those Cy Young Award winning seasons found the New York Mets in the World Series, winning one behind one of the most remarkable seasons in baseball history and losing the other to an Oakland As team right smack in the middle of their “Threepeat” as World Champions.

Seaver wasn’t merely the best pitcher on the Mets, he was their most valuable player year in and year out.

He would be traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the 1977 trade deadline. The deal would be called the Midnight Massacre as the Mets plummeted into obscurity. It would take six years for Davey Johnson, Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden to rebuild the Mets. I told you, Seaver made the Mets go. The Mets would finish in last or second to last every one of those years, and remember this was the era of six-team divisions.

You can say Seaver got so many more votes than the likes of Greg Maddux or a Aaron because of his induction class. It may be the case as he and Rollie Fingers were voted in together. The rest of that ballot did have some future Hall of Famers on it, but they all paled in comparison to Tom Terrific.

In the January/February issue of Baseball Magazine I take a closer look at the career of the greatest New York Met in their history. Dr. K looked like he may be headed for that title, but off the field issues (and the Mets insistence on him throwing that curve) deprived fans of seeing what could have been. This new staff certainly has some young arms that could one day challenge Tom Terrific, but that’s a story still being written.

Click the link below to read my full feature at Baseball Magazine (page 7):

THE LEGEND OF TOM TERRIFIC

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