Tom Seaver regales Buffalo faithful with baseball stories
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 3:24 pm, July 11, 2012
If you listen to one of the baseball legends like Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, there will be no shortage of tales, anecdotes and stories about baseball.
And so it went today, as the Buffalo Bisons hosted the All Star Luncheon at Adams Mark Hotel’s grand ballroom downtown. Over 900 people packed the hotel in yet another successful event of this week’s AAA All Star Game celebration, which is taking place right here in Buffalo.
Seaver met with the media before the luncheon. “It’s great to be back in Buffalo,” said Seaver, starting right off by letting everyone know that his introduction to the Queen City happened in 1966. “One of the fondest memories in baseball was the one year I spent in the minors. It was for the AAA Jacksonville Suns, they were the minor league team for the Mets. I had just left California, born and raised in Fresno, then sent off to play in Jacksonville. So my first stop was, I believe it was called War Memorial Stadium? Our first road trip was someplace else then we headed off to Buffalo. I think I hit a home run at War Memorial. I only hit one (in the minors).”
Buffalo has come a long way since the days of the Rockpile. And Seaver was quick to commend the city for its beautiful downtown ballpark. “Just a wonderful place I saw it coming in on the plane. A great ballpark. Just the right amount of seating. It’s a joy to be here and it all brings back a lot of memories.”
Then the stories started rolling off the lips, and Seaver was trucking out the names of some of the biggest stars to have ever played the game… Christy Mathewson, Lou Brock, Gil Hodges, Henry Aaron, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax. Some of these players were his heroes, others his teammates or players he had faced on the mound. But all these lions of baseball helped shape Seaver’s career in the game and his journey through life.
Seaver was rookie of the year on 1967, but his greatest year was 1969, when the “Amazin’ Mets” stunned the baseball world by capturing the World Series championship, Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA that year in 36 games to earn his first of three Cy Young Awards. He also won two games in the playoffs that year enroute to the championship.
Seaver had the press corp in stitches has he shared a story of his first encounter with Lou Brock. Seaver was a rookie and with his boyish looks was easily mistaken for one of the clubhouse attendants. As he passed by, Brock called out, “hey kid, get me a Coke.” Seaver replied, “I can’t tell you what I told him there’s an adjective I used you guys can’t print.” (Hey Tom, Artvoice is an alternative newspaper we’d be glad to print the adjective.)
Continuing, Seaver said, “For 20 years I played in the big leagues, and every time I saw Lou Brock, he said ‘hey kid, get me a Coke.’ You talk about the beginning of earning your stripes of believing that you can perform at that level, and also the relationships that you begin to put the ground work of the people you play with and against. That phrase is one of our shared special memories that we have and we still chuckle about it. He doesn’t even say hello! ‘Hey kid , get me a Coke’ and I know who it is.”
Seaver was full of praise for Mets pitcher Johan Santana, who pitched the first no hitter in Mets history last month. “Glad the monkey is off the back,” replied Seaver. “I’ve been asked the question many times. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a pitcher, not a thrower. I think it’s great. The Mets can move on now.”
Seaver’s life today is close to his home in Calistoga, California. He admits that he does not watch much baseball but sops up box scores in the paper the next day. He and his wife Nancy Lynn run their own vintners, the Seaver Family Vineyards, which produced its first vintage in 2005.
This magical week in Buffalo concludes tonight with the main event – the 25th AAA All Star Game at Coca Cola Field. Bisons Vice President and General Manager Mike Buczkowski announced that only 100 tickets remained as of 1:40pm, so the event will surely be a sellout and a packed house will be on hand.