This past week I’ve been fuming, and if you are, or ever were, a fan of the New York Mets, you’ve undoubtedly been fuming too. For that matter, baseball fans and sports fans in general have been fuming. So what’s all the uproar about?
According to published reports, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady plans on copyrighting the nickname Tom Terrific for his own personal line of sports related merchandise and memorabilia. Tom Terrific? Oops!
Make that a Major League oops. Is Brady the only person on the planet unaware that the nickname Tom Terrific belongs to someone else? Or is he so callous that he just doesn’t care?
Whether ignorant or callous, neither is an excuse for Brady’s insensitive AND unprofessional act. Especially in light of recent developments surrounding the true Tom Terrific.
Will the real Tom Terrific please stand up.
Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, was given the nickname Tom Terrific by members of the New York press back in the summer of 1969. For the past 50 years, the nickname has served as his personal moniker.
Seaver broke into the big leagues with the Mets in 1967, bowing out with the Red Sox in 1986. In his first full season, Seaver won 16 games, also winning the 1967 National League Rookie of The Year award. When he finally hung up his jersey for good, he had a won-loss record of 311-205, and was ranked third all-time for strikeouts with 3,640.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner, for nine consecutive years Seaver fanned 200 or more batters, a Major League record. In 1992 he recieved the call to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, captuing 98.8% of the vote.
Seaver’s best season came in 1969 when he went 25-7, tossing 18 complete games. Partnered with my favorite cousin-in-law Jerry Koosman, for over 10 years the duo formed the best righty-lefty tandum since Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Back in the summer of ‘69 the press dubbed them the “Tom And Jerry Show” (after the cartoon characters of the same names) during a crucial stretch in which they won 16 straight. On the strength of their tireless arms they carried the 100-1 underdog Mets to perhaps the most improbable World Series Championship in baseball history.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of that historic 1969 season, and this summer the Mets have a grand celebration planned. Koosman will be there, as will Nolan Ryan and other surviving members of the ‘69 Mets. But Seaver won’t be attending.
Due to dementia, Seaver has withdrawn from public life. I first learned of his condition a couple of years ago from Jerry, following a short visit to Seaver’s home in California. I had earlier asked him to write the forward for my book on Jerry, but when Kooz returned from the trip he explained to me that Tom wasn’t up to it. Since that time, Seaver’s condition has only worsened. Recently, his family announced his retirement from public life, including the Mets upcoming celebration.
I don’t know what Tom Brady is thinking given the circumstances, but I do know this. There is only One Great Bambino, only one Yankee Clipper, only one Commerce Comet, only one Captain and only one Tom Terrific, and Tom Brady is none of these.