Talkin’ Baseball – 7-21 – What Were Your Feelings When Tom Seaver Was Traded


Good morning 

Question –

            Do you remember what your feelings were when Tom Seaver was traded? What were your thoughts at the time and how did it affect you?

 If you were not yet alive or following the team, did we trade somebody that really affected you negatively or positively?

Reese Kaplan says –

            I remember that day as if it was just yesterday.  I was in high school when the news broke about the three trades that came down that night -- Seaver going to Cincinnati for Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman, Dave Kingman going to San DIego for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert, and Mike Phillips going to St. Louis for Joel Youngblood. 

While on the rational level the Mets did receive a decent if not spectacular haul for Seaver, he represented so much more to the team than his mere pitching ability.  He almost singlehandedly gave the team respectability after having been a laughingstock for the first half dozen years of its existence, culminating with leading the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Championship pennant.  True, he was 32 and the projection from then GM M. Donald Grant was that he would be paying big bucks for past achievements as he entered the twilight of his career. 

Grant was wrong, of course.  Seaver spent parts of six seasons with the Reds and was dominant in four of them.  The stadium became known as Grant's Tomb as people stayed away in droves due to their outrage over trading away "The Franchise" (though the caliber of play during those years might have had a lot to do with it, too). 

As bad as the Seaver situation was, the Kingman one was even worse.  He was due to become a free agent at year's end (much like Jay Bruce and company are this year year for the Mets), but the return of once promising but never fully recovered Bobby V (who was out of baseball before age 30) and soft tossing setup reliever Paul Siebert.  For a guy who stopped everyone in their tracks to watch his ABs, this return seemed pitiful. 

Overnight the Mets went from a winning 86-76 record in 1977 it seemed very strange they would ship out their two greatest players and throw in the towel on a disappointing 1977 season (and future).  I remember walking around school in a fog, never having before feeling the same sense of betrayal by someone for whom I'd pledged my undying loyalty.  (As a kid, I didn't realize how foolish it was to put that much stock into an entertainment entity). 

Tom Brennan says –

Tom Seaver was the man who turned the Mets from farce to champion.  

Great...super consistent...winner.

The Mets basically stunk in the second half of the 1970s, but Seaver was Seaver...and then the idiots came up with a trade of 3 mediocrities for one of baseball's greatest ever pitchers.

I remember thinking there 3 guys won't make up for the loss of Tom Terrific - you don't surrender quality for quantity.

After the trade, the acquired player's mediocre performance only made the feeling worse. A lot worse.

The good part was seeing what Seaver could do with a team that could really score runs.

If you trade a future Hall of Famer, the deal has to be a WHOLE lot better.

The third trade that most people forget brought Joel Youngblood who was a credible player both in the infield and outfield for the newly revamped Mets and it spelled the end of the playing days for new manager Joe Torre to create the roster spot.  That one was most definitely a win for the Mets, but it did little to take the sting out of what transpired. 

I am guessing part of the reason the Mets never seriously entertained trading away David Wright was fear of another similar reaction from the fan base given his connection to the people who buy the tickets and jerseys.  

David Rubin says - 

I can still remember hearing about it from my dad right after it was announced..in fact, the trade of Tom Seaver to the Reds had an effect on me that lingers to this day, some 40 years and a few weeks later...so much so that I'm going to have to spin the question out into my own post later this weekend, so be on the look-out for it- and NO, I will NEVER FORGIVE DICK YOUNG OR M. DONALD (WORTHLESS) GRANT!!!


Thomas Brennan said...

Unlike some others (media exaggerated how many) who disliked Kong, I was a big Kingman fan. After all, who else could hit the ball into the parking lot but Kong? As much power as Aaron Judge, a vicious swinger who'd have been viewed historically much differently if he'd not gotten hurt in his 2 big years: 40 homers after 120 games with the Cubs and threatening Maris' record, and when he had 32 homers in his first 94 games with the Mets one season. If not for injuries, he might have hit 55 or more in both those years, in an era when when 50 was an unreachable target.

Speaking of Seaver, deGrom is better than the reliever the Yanks traded to get super-prospect Gleyber Torres, so if Jake (our current Seaver equivalent) gets traded, we need two prospects the equal of Gleyber, and more. Or no dice. Part of being a baseball fan is being able to remember fondly the great years and truly special players. Trading a Seaver was awful - doing it again for anything less than a king's ransom would be inexcusable.

Heck, I've never forgiven Roy Boe for selling Julius Erving - when I saw Julius in the last ABA championship, he was mind-boggling. Equal to Lebron at his very best. And they just sold him for cash flow.

Adam Smith said...

I was 11 years old when the trade happened, and it was one of the three times I ever cried about sports as a kid. The other two were the '73 WS loss, and Ali losing to Leon Spinks. These days I cry daily reading the Vegas pitching lines.

Gary Seagren said...

I always remember that day as well and for Seaver's comment later when asked what he thought about Grant he referred to him as "the Plantation owner" and he as always hit the nail on the head. Couple that with his penny pinching ways and no wonder he drove our beloved club into the ground. I remember another Grant answer to the question: will you spend money on free agents and his response was "we're not going to spend money crazily" and then went out and signed the immortal Elliot Maddox.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Gary -- from the more things change department -- the immortal John Mayberry, Jr., the immortal Alejandro De Aza, the immortal Curtis Granderson (yes, his overall body of work has been below expectations)...

I will give a pass on Jason Bay because he looked like a good signing at the time.

Thomas Brennan said...

Al de Aza hitting .250 in AAA in 2017, no steals, no attempts, no chance.

But Sandy liked him a lot for 2016. Junior (Mayberry, not Griffey) was another scrap heap "gem"

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