Remembering Tom Seaver’s terrific time with the Cincinnati Reds

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Pitcher Tom Seaver #41 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the New York Mets during a Major League Baseball game circa 1979 at Shea Stadium. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Pitcher Tom Seaver #41 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the New York Mets during a Major League Baseball game circa 1979 at Shea Stadium. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Following the heartbreaking news of Tom Seaver’s passing, we look back on his years as a member of the Reds.

An argument can be made that Tom Seaver is the greatest pitcher ever dealt at the trade deadline. Fans of the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets will forever remember June 15, 1977.  The Reds acquired one of the best pitchers in baseball, while the Mets traded away the greatest player in their franchise history.

The two-time defending World Series champion Cincinnati Reds were languishing in second place with a mediocre 31-27 record and trailing the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by seven games in the National League West. Despite featuring an explosive offense, the Reds starting rotation was a disaster.

Following the 1976 season, Cincinnati ace Don Gullett left as a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. Gullett’s departure left a gaping hole and remaining hurlers Jack Billingham, Woody Fryman and Pat Zachary all sported ERA’s north of 5.00.

Something drastic was needed if the Reds entertained any hopes of a three-peat.  Cincinnati Reds General Manager Bob Howsam was no stranger to making dramatic moves. As the final day of the trade deadline approached, Howsam sent right-hander Pat Zachary, infielder Doug Flynn and outfielders Dan Norman and Steve Henderson to the Big Apple in exchange for Tom Terrific.

By the time Tom Seaver arrived in the Queen City, he was one of the most decorated pitchers in baseball. Featuring a résumé that included three Cy Young Awards and nine All-Star appearances, Seaver provided the Reds struggling rotation with a major jolt.

Making his Cincinnati debut on June 18th in Montreal against the Expos, Seaver did not disappoint. Throwing a complete game shutout, Seaver allowed only three hits while fanning eight Expos. He also collected a pair of hits and knocked in two runs. Not a bad debut.

Tom Seaver completed his debut season with the Reds by going 14-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 1977. While the club was unable to overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West crown, Seaver more than held up his end of the bargain.

Throughout his remaining five years in Cincinnati, Seaver produced many highlights. On June 16, 1978, Tom Seaver threw his first and only career no-hitter, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals at Riverfront Stadium. The following season, Seaver led the Reds back to the postseason while racking up 16 victories against only 6 defeats.

Returning to the Mets for the 1983 season, Seaver finished his run in Cincinnati with a 75-46 record and a 3.18 ERA. Over the course of five-plus seasons with the Reds, Tom Seaver would make three All-Star appearances and collect two Top 5 Cy Young Award finishes.

Seaver’s 20-year career came to end at the conclusion of the 1986 season. His final numbers are astounding. Seaver finished his career with 311 victories, 3,640 strikeouts, 3 Cy Young Awards, and 12 All-Star appearances.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, his first year of eligibility, Seaver was named on a remarkable 98.8% of the ballots cast, with only five voters omitting this name from their vote. Seaver was also a 2006 inductee into the Reds Hall of Fame.

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While Tom Seaver will always be remembered first and foremost for his time in Queens, New York with the Mets, his impact on the Queen City while playing for the Cincinnati Reds cannot be overlooked. Condolences to the Seaver family during the difficult days ahead, and a final thank you to Tom Terrific for all the wonderful memories.