Memory Lane: Tom Seaver
By Daniel Jeffrey
The “Midnight Massacre” of June 15, 1977 would become even worse for Mets’ fans on June 16, 1978. It had been the darkest day in New York Mets’ history. “Seaver to the Reds”, the headlines blared! As if to open this new/old wound, just a year and a day after Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, he would throw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. Mets fans died a little that evening in 1978, and to this day rue the trade that sent their star of stars to the Reds.
Seaver, with three Cy Young’s, five strikeout titles and a World Championship, was traded to the Reds in 1977 for four players. Seaver would go 14-3 for the Reds after the trade, and win 21 games that season. As dismal the trade was for Mets’ fans, the trade was simply hard to believe for Reds’ fans – the incredible Tom Seaver was going to pitch for us. Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July – all in June of ’77!
It had been a long week, but I was home on a Friday evening with my little boys and their mother, looking forward to a few days at home. Then, my neighbor Haggerty called and casually asked if I wanted to go to the game. He quickly reminded me that Seaver was pitching and that his seats were three rows up, directly behind the Reds’ dugout. Let’s go!
We got there early, drinking in the scene, I had never before been so close to the field. You could see the sweat on the players’ faces, and distinctly hear their voices. Around the fifth inning, the buzz would begin, were we watching something special? We would look at each other, smiling, winking, not really talking about what was going on for fear of jinxing this miraculous night. With only walks in the second and ninth, the Cardinals hardly had a whiff of a base hit. In the seventh, most of us stayed on our feet after the Stretch, hoping that destiny would strike in but six more Cardinal outs. Only a chopper to defensive replacement Ray Knight (in for Pete Rose) at third base in the 8th inning really had a chance. We collectively sighed in relief. The buzz was elevating now, with every fan in the place hoping for the rare feat, and a believe-it-or-not first for our man Seaver. After each half inning, looking directly into Seaver’s eyes, we could see nothing but cool confidence and determination. We knew.
38,216 fans (easily a quarter-million say they were there) welcomed the ninth inning with passion and fear, hope and joy, a decidedly mixed bag of emotions. The buzz now approached that of an eighty-car train and locomotive. St. Louis’ George Hendrick strides to the plate, the last hope for the Cardinals. He slams a one-hopper to Danny Driessen at first who strides to the bag, and history is made. This is Tom Seaver’s one and only no-hitter of his career. For probably the next 20 minutes, we stood at our seats and swallowed up every second of this moment of baseball history. “Tom Terrific” indeed had filled the bill that night, he would not have another no hitter in his Hall of Fame career. And, I was there!