NY Mets Book Review: “Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life” by Bill Madden is about more than one terrific pitcher
By Tim Boyle
I probably should read more than I do. Reading is like exercise, hugs, and vegetables. Can you have too much of any in your life? The most recent book I crossed off my to-do list is Bill Madden’s “Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life” about none other than the greatest New York Mets player of all-time, Tom Seaver.
The book, which came out late last year, covers the life of Tom Terrific before, during, and after his days with the Mets. A lot of the information I already knew. Plenty of it was brand-spanking-new.
Bill Madden’s book “Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life” on the legendary Mets pitcher is about the whole franchise, not just The Franchise
The Seaver stories Madden details in the book were wonderful to learn about. He painted a picture of who Seaver was as a man and competitor. It was about as autobiographically true as I could expect from any book on the topic.
The nearly 300-page story was about more than The Franchise, however. What I really enjoyed most was how much the book also talked about the Mets franchise itself.
No figure is more important in Mets history than Seaver. I know there are non-players who have had an impact, but Seaver completely turned the franchise around from a laughing stock in the early 1960s to a competitor by the end of its first decade. Unequivocally the best player to ever play for the team, he’s a legend that unfortunately never got the respect from the organization that he deserved.
Madden’s book is honest and doesn’t make Seaver out to be the saint he never was. Not always beloved by his teammates, Seaver was universally respected. He was a complicated man with some very simple values.
Most striking from this story was Seaver’s feelings towards the Mets about the statue that never came during his life. Maybe this one is on me, but I never realized how much Seaver desired the honor.
When he stepped into Citi Field for the first time and saw the respect the Mets were paying to the Brooklyn Dodgers, it hurt him. Not because he wanted it to be all about him. A little bit of acknowledgment about the Mets franchise he helped build was all he wanted. Time and time again, the Mets seemed to forget he was a part of their history and just how valuable he was. From the 1977 Midnight Massacre to the leaving him unprotected in the draft one year after his return to everything that went down post-career, the missing statue was a symbol to Seaver.
It’s difficult to relate to Seaver from the perspective of looking at him like the great athlete he was. The human parts of him, however, share similarities with us all.
Appearing perfect on the mound at times, he was anything but flawless away from the game. He didn’t get into the kind of trouble other athletes have. Like all of us, he had his quirks.
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Anyone who never got to grow up watching Seaver pitch should check out this book. I wasn’t even alive for a day of his career and learned a whole lot about him, the Mets, and baseball itself in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Prepare yourself for love beads, bell-bottoms, and big hair with spandex. Oh, and a whole lot of baseball from a bygone era.