Tom Seaver , Tom Terrific, “The Franchise,” what ever you want to call him, he was a baseball God.
Seaver was truly the greatest pitcher in New York baseball history. Granted, I never saw Christy Mathewson pitch, however to refer to an all timer, then it has to tell you the impact that George Thomas Seaver had.
As great as Seaver was, he also commanded that type of respect. I have been around Michael Jordan and have been friends with Muhammad Ali. This is the type of respect that Seaver received. No other athletes were in that class during my lifetime.
Everyone knows of Tom Terrific’s on field exploits. Everyone remembers what he meant to the World Champion 1969 Amazing Mets. I must also add that he was an idol to millions. If you were a Yankee fan, you still respected Seaver.
When Seaver retired, the great owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, asked Tom Seaver to broadcast Yankee games even though Seaver’s brand was imbedded with the cross town rival Mets. A Steinbrenner assistant was overheard telling the Boss that it wasn’t a good idea that we should get someone else and Mr. Steinbrenner told the individual that he should fire him right now for giving him such horse S….. advice. Tom Seaver can only make our broadcast team that much better. I must add that Seaver with Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Murcer was great.
One of the best Tom Seaver stories that I ever heard was in 1987. Seaver went to spring training with the Mets. He was at the very end of his career. He wanted to see if he had anything left. If he did he would want to naturally finish his playing career with the Mets.
Seaver told the Mets that he wanted to give it two weeks. He showed up in great shape especially considering the fact that he was already 42 years old. As an ex marine, Seaver knew how to really get himself in excellent condition. Mel Stotlemyre, the Mets’ pitching coach, knew exactly what Seaver was going through. As a former great pitcher himself, Mel had gone through the same scenario at the end of his career with the Yankees. Mel gave the assignment of the person who would catch Seaver to 24 year old bullpen catcher Rob Dromerhauser. This was an easy decision for Mel because Rob had just come from the Baltimore Orioles where he was used to catching Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan and the rest of the best pitching staff in the American League and arguably all of baseball. Rob had left the Orioles to join the Mets that season because he was a New York boy. Even though Rob’s mentor and baseball father, the legendary Tom Giordano was the assistant general manager in Baltimore, they both knew that going to the Mets was the best thing for Rob.
For two weeks Rob would catch Seaver in simulated games and that old Tom Terrific magic just wasn’t there. It would go down to his last day. Seaver would give it one last try. Rob Dromerhauser would prepare for what essentially would be Mets history. Tom Seaver for the last time on a Mets pitching mound and his catcher Rob Dromerhauser.
Rob tried to call every pitch to essentially help Seaver that day. One finger for a fastball, two fingers for a curve, three for a change. Rob even used one of his newer gloves to make the pop of the fast ball sound louder. Unfortunately nothing seemed to work. There were a couple of balls hit out of the park and a couple of base hits that were hit very hard and I guess that told Tom Seaver what he needed to see and hear. Seaver looked into Rob’s eyes when the catcher walked to the mound and without Rob saying anything the great Tom Seaver patted Rob on the back and said I know. Then he proudly walked off the mound for the last time. Everyone on the field stayed very quiet until you saw the number 41 disappear into the Mets dugout.
When Rob went into the clubhouse and to his locker, Tom Seaver’s number 41 jersey was sitting in Rob’s locker. A beautiful gesture by a beautiful man. If I was Rob Dromerhauser, I would always be proud of the fact that he was the last person to catch The Franchise, the Man known as Tom Terrific, arguably the greatest pitcher ever…Tom Seaver!!! You were an ex Marine and a true credit to the greatest game in the world, baseball.
Thank you for your service Mr. Seaver.