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by Harold Friend
The New York Mets opened the 1967 season at Shea Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates on a sunny, 44-degree day. Don Cardwell pitched extremely well for the home team, allowing three runs (2 unearned) and striking out nine over eight innings. The score was 3-3 going to the Pirates' half of the ninth inning.
Six Consecutive Opening Day Losses
Don Cardwell weakened, allowing consecutive doubles by Gene Alley and former Met Jesse Gonder. Before the inning was over, the Pirates had a 6-3 lead. The Mets failed to score in their half of the ninth. It was the sixth consecutive opening day loss for New York's other team.
The Mets Win in Tom Seaver's First Career Start
In the second game of the season, the Mets beat the Pirates. It was only the second time in their history that they didn't lose their first two games of the season, but that is merely a footnote. The game was significant because the starting pitcher was Tom Seaver.
The Mets scored twice in the second inning when Tommie Reynolds singled and Jerry Buchek hit a home run. The Pirates scored the first run ever against Seaver in third inning, and tied the game with another run in the fourth. They would score no more, but Seaver left in the sixth inning. He allowed two runs, six hits, four walks, and struck out eight.
Tom Seaver Tired
After the game, Seaver said simply, "I just ran out of gas."
Tom Seaver was not taken out of his first game because a 22-year-old pitcher must not exceed a specific number of pitches or he will suffer damage. He was taken out because he was tired.
Tom Seaver's First Win
Seaver's second start was against the Cubs at Shea Stadium. Working seven and one-third innings, Seaver allowed only one run on eight hits, striking out 5 and walking none as the Mets beat Curt Simmons, 6-1.
The win was the first of 16 for Seaver in his rookie season. He finished with 13 losses on a team that finished last, losing 101 games. He was named the National League 1967 Rookie of the Year.
A Rookie Workhorse
Tom Seaver started 34 games, appeared once in relief, and pitched 251 innings at the age of 22. His career spanned 20 seasons, and he was healthy most of his career. He averaged 250 innings pitched a season, winning 311 games while losing 205.
The Final Victory
At the age of 41, pitching for the Red Sox, Seaver started against the Twins in Minnesota on August 18, 1986. He started the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead. After retiring the first two hitters, Randy Bush doubled. Bob Stanley got the last out in Tom Seaver's 311th and last major league win.
Tom Seaver was one of the greats, but one cannot help but wonder about his career if he had been a young pitcher starting out today. No pitcher is allowed to pitch 250 innings at the age of 22. Rookies do not start 34 games. Because Seaver was a hard thrower, he might be groomed to be a closer or, depending on his team's needs, he might become an eighth inning set-up man with an eye to eventually closing.
One must ask the question. Why take a young pitcher who has the ability to pitch 250 innings in a season and limit him to 70-80 innings? There is something wrong.
By JOSEPH DURSO. (1967, April 12). Mets Commit 5 Errors While Bowing to Pirates, 6-3, in Opening Game Here :3 RUNS IN NINTH SEW UP CONTEST Cardwell Strong on Mound, but Shaky Defense Ruins Chances Before 31,510. New York Times (1857-Current file),52. Retrieved August 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 90322115).
By JOSEPH DURSO. (1967, April 14). Mets Beat Pirates, 3-2, on Hiller's Pinch Double in 8th for First Victory :HOMER BY BUCHEK DRIVES IN 2 RUNS Mets' Triumph in 2d Game Equals Club's Record-- Estrada Wins in Relief . New York Times (1857-Current file),43. Retrieved August 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 86715337).
Seaver Wins 311th, Giving Up 3 Hits. (1986, August 19). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. D27. Retrieved August 11, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 120416071).