Under the grapevine with Tom Seaver
Perhaps my favorite Tom Seaver memory occurred 50 years ago in that glorious summer of 1969. My dad, two brothers and I were visiting my grandfather's house, all of us big baseball fans. It was a warm, July night and we were under my grandfather's grapevine, along with my uncle. listening to the game on my small RCA transistor radio. Remember those?
I remember we were riveted, as the Mets - suddenly in their first pennant race - were playing the first place Chicago Cubs. Shea Stadium was packed and the roar came thundering through the small radio's speaker, as Seaver kept mowing down one batter after another. Twenty-five in a row. When he retired the first batter in the ninth, we - and I'm sure millions of others - thought "Tom Terrific" might throw a perfect game.
It was not to be, as Jim Qualls, whose name I can recall to this day, singled to spoil history.
A check of the game story finds the contest took place on July 9, with the Mets winning, 4-0, behind Seaver's one-hitter. The game was played before 59,083 - at the time the largest baseball crowd in Shea Stadium history. Seaver managed to dispose of Leo Durocher's Cubs in a handsome 2 hours and 2 minutes, pulling the Amazins' to within two games of the Cubs. Through the miracle of You Tube, the actual radio broadcast of the game is available in its entirety.
Seaver's near perfect game proved to be a prelude to a perfect summer of baseball for the Mets. How ironic my favorite memory of him should be under a grapevine. Seaver has spent his life-after-baseball, making wine. In their announcement of his withdrawal from public life, Seaver's family revealed that is where he will spend much of his time, in his "beloved vineyard."