Tom Seaver (Photo: New York Daily News)

A Statue For Tom Seaver – Not A Question Of If, But How Soon

A statue commemorating Tom Seaver is a no-brainer the Mets should have announced yesterday. He was The Franchise, what’s the holdup…

The announcement from Tom Seaver‘s family that the 74-year old Hall of Famer is suffering from a debilitating disease that will cause him to refrain from public life henceforth was a jolt in the gut to all of baseball, and most especially to his former teammates and fans of the New York Mets.

Known as The Franchise, the Mets franchise is now struggling with a proper, yet vital, way to recall the man who meant so much to the 1969 World Championship team, and of more urgency, the Mets scheduled June 28-30 celebration honoring the team.

Tom Seaver, of course, would have played a significant role in that celebration, but as one of the Mets said, “This is just another cruel reminder that we’re all getting older.” As it is Ed Kranepool is still awaiting a donor for a kidney transplant, and Bud Harrelson has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

All of this, however, should propel the Mets into an all-out effort to turbocharge the celebration. Oddly, it was a column I wrote earlier this week that urged the Mets to recall their history and footprint on baseball in robust ways, something they have been remiss in doing.

Which prompts me to ask now – why haven’t the Mets taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for preliminary drawings for a statue of Tom Seaver from sculptors in New York City that will be placed outside Citi Field. After the Mets narrow the submissions down to three, fans will “vote” choosing one, and that artist will be consigned to construct the statue.

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Having visited many other major league ballparks, it’s been a fun experience to see how many teams utilize statues to commemorate their most beloved players. At Great American Ballpark, Pete Rose is honored (upper left).

And at Wrigley Field, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (upper right), the equivalent to Tom Seaver’s stature with the Mets, is prominently situated so all fans, and especially kids whose Dads can relate to them some history and lore about the team they will likely be rooting for that day.

And in San Francisco, Willie Mays has a statue directly outside the main entrance to the ballpark that is thoughtfully surrounded by 24 (his number, you’ll recall) palm trees that you walk between as you enter the ballpark.

Tom Seaver’s statue should only be a beginning, though. Gil Hodges, post mortem and the father of the Mets franchise should be next in line, as should former Met’s GM and baseball genius, Frank Cashen. Others, after much debate will follow.

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An endeavor of this kind must be planned with an eye to the future, though. In Boston, for instance, the statue of Ted Williams is buried along a side street, not front and center along Yawkey Way where all fans congregate. For picture taking, you must step into a busy street to take a photo. Which reminds me, why haven’t they moved the damn thing after all these years?

Tom Seaver won his last ten games consecutively to propel the Mets to their first World Championship in 1969. He did not leave the Mets on the best of terms, prompting the Mets to trade him as part of a salary dispute to the Cincinnati Reds, an event often referred to in Mets lore as the Midnight Massacre.

And I did not find him particularly engaging in the minute or so I had with him during an autograph session he did at Cooperstown in 2006. But I wasn’t offended – because Tom Seaver was always all business, especially when it came to pitching and competing on a baseball field.

He stays that way now, removing himself from the public eye. Although, in most ways, Tom Seaver removed himself some time ago, retiring to his beloved wine vineyards, his two dogs, and most of all, his wife, Nancy. Good for him.

And if there was ever a time to rev up the chant – “Let’s Go Mets” – the time is now to get the Mets off their butt to do the right thing as it relates to The Franchise…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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