THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES – VOL. 4 – The Day Tom Seaver Went "19 and 10"


The Day Tom Seaver Went 19 and 10, by Tom Brennan

There was a day I'm glad I did not dawdle coming home from high school.  It was April 22, 1970.  A day I was unaware I'd be entering the "These Are A Few of My Favorite Games" Zone.

No, Rod Serling wasn't broadcasting the Mets game that afternoon, it was our usual brilliant trio of Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, and Lindsay Nelson, who could make almost any game a favorite one.

Anyway, I pop on the TV. Just in time to see Tom Terrific strike out his 10th batter to end the 6th.  Wow...10 in 6 innings. Being numbers-inclined, I immediately think that he had a chance to tie Carlton's record of 19 in a game set just months before. I just as immediately come to my senses and realize that would mean striking out 10 in a row, so clearly that wasn't gonna happen.

Seaver found himself clinging to an all-too-familiar skimpy lead, 2-1 this time. As usual, I realized if Tom were to win, it would be on his shoulders. So I settled in to see how he'd hold down the Padres and pick up the win. At that early point in the 1970 season, I was hoping for a 25 win repeat from Tom, having no way to realize that no Met would ever do that again.   

Bottom 6, no Met insurance runs for Seaver.  What else is new? Top of the 7th, he punches out the first guy, then the second.  NOW he's gotten my attention.  Because he wasn't the typical Seaver, who'd surgically cut the lower corners of the plate with alternately moving fastballs and nasty sliders.

He was firing high fastballs. Really fast, rising fastballs. Faster than typical Seaver. Over and over.   Padres getting a sunburn from the blazers roaring by. 

He got his 13th K to end the 7th and I was riveted.

8th inning, more of the same.  Raw, severe, rising high heat.  Swings and misses. Very few foul balls as I recall.

16 Ks.  WOW.

I recalibrated, and now thought he'd have a real shot at those 19 Ks after all.  Not facing a juggernaut hitting team in the Padres helped his odds, and I'd never seen him throwing like this. 

But I'd seen Seaver at other times start to tire in the 9th and switch to sheer moxie to win games.  I'd recalled him tiring once and Stargell hitting one onto the roof in Forbes Field off of him late (but that was on a day he was mortal).  I knew another 3 Ks would be a challenge. 

But this was a Favorites Zone day.  He was in fact in a zone that will happen in a guy's career rarely, if ever.  So, as I recall, the 9th came and it was a carbon copy of the 7th and 8th.  One searing high heater after another – no finesse at all.  Utterly overmatched hitters.  A man against boys.  3 more notches in the belt as he remained supreme and untouchable.  17…18…19.

NINETEEN.  19 to tie the single game record...and 10 straight to obliterate the major league consecutive K record of 8.  And done, incredibly, to close out a game, not early on when a guy more likely would be stronger. 

Seaver nearly pitched a perfect game once. In my opinion, this one was better, and I believe he never threw as hard before or after that game. 
He was in a Zone.  And I sure was glad I got to see it.  Even seeing just the last 3+ innings, it ranks as one of my favorite games.  Ever.

Did you see it?  Hope so.  So does Rod Serling.


Mack's Mets © 2012