A tribute to Mets pitcher Pat Zachry

Pat Zachry
Pat Zachry / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Tom Seaver. Why is that the first thing that enters the mind of New York Mets fans when the name of Pat Zachry is mentioned?

There is a good explanation for that – Zachry was one of the four players the Mets received when M. Donald Grant banished Seaver to Cincinnati. And Zachry was the one pitcher received when Seaver went to the Reds. And Zachry was the one who replaced Seaver in the Mets starting rotation.

THAT is what Pat Zachry is known for. And that is unfair and unfortunate.

Pat Zachry was more than "a guy" traded for Tom Seaver

Zachry and his three Reds teammates – Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman – did not ask to be traded…and they certainly didn’t ask to be traded to the New York Mets for a New York icon.

But they were. And it became their legacy…a legacy that was certainly not deserved.

Zachry had won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1976 when he went 14-7 with a team-leading 2.74 ERA. He beat the Phillies 6-2 in Game 2 in the Reds sweep of the Phils the NLCS, and then duplicated his efforts in Game 3 in the Reds sweep of the Yankees in the World Series.

And, then, came the trade on June 15, 1977, and Zachry became a New York Met. He went from being a part of the powerful Big Red Machine to a Mets team that was embarking on one of its darkest period in the organization’s history. With the Reds, he could go out to the mound pretty confident that he didn’t have to be perfect…because there was always that support from the cast of eventual Hall of Famers behind him. With the Mets, he almost HAD to be perfect, and fans EXPECTED him to be that because of the unfair and unreasonable perception that HE was the one replacing Tom Seaver.

Injuries and a bad Mets team hampered Zachry’s ability to replicate the success he had with the Reds. But in an interview he gave recently, he said, “…it was always interesting and never dull. Too bad we didn’t give the people more for their money, but it wasn’t like we didn’t try.”

That’s what people forget.

Teammate Doug Flynn, who was also a part of that trade, summed it up best for me.

“He was a wonderful, warm, funny man…a great teammate and friend and, before injuries, a really good pitcher,” he said. “None of us, especially Pat, ever thought we were replacing a legend.

“He just wanted to pitch and compete and in every outing, good or bad, Pat always competed. He never tried to be Tom, but even to his death there are some who are still upset about the trade and still writing junk five years later. Pat didn’t make the trade and I hope folks will remember him for never complaining, never making excuses, and always giving the very best he had that day.

“His passing hurts so many of his former teammates because we know what a great friend he has always been. We loved Pat dearly and feel blessed to have met him, played with him and will never forget him. He deserves to be laid to rest with nothing but respect and kindness.”

And that’s what people should never forget about Pat Zachry.