Kepner: Even as Tom Seaver’s health deteriorates, his legacy remains true

From SABR member Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on March 7, 2019:

Twenty years ago, two of the greats of the 1969 World Series found themselves on the same dais at a fund-raiser. The M.C. cued up highlights, and one Hall of Fame pitcher walked out. Another, Tom Seaver, howled with delight.

“He said, ‘Jim, it was 30 years ago, get over it!’ ” Jim Palmer, the former Baltimore pitcher, said on Thursday. “And he did it with that laugh only Tom Seaver had. It was a great point — but if the Orioles had won instead of the Mets, do you think he would’ve gotten over it?”

As the Mets celebrate the 50th anniversary of their miracle championship this year, Seaver, 74, will not be basking in the memories. In a statement released through the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday, the Seaver family announced that he has dementia and would retire from public life.

It was not a surprise to those who know him well. Seaver has rarely appeared in public in recent years. He did not throw a ceremonial first pitch during the first World Series at Citi Field, in 2015, and has been absent at the annual induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. He had for years dealt with Lyme disease.

“We’ll all miss him, because he was such a big part of that team,” said Art Shamsky, a Mets outfielder and first baseman in 1969. “We’ve lost about 10 guys from that team, and we’ll miss them all. It’s another kick in the gut. I just hope he’s around for many more years to share some moments with his family.”

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Originally published: March 7, 2019. Last Updated: March 7, 2019.