Tom Seaver's teammates on 1969 Mets wish he could attend street renaming
Seaver Way surely will become the road most traveled around Citi Field.
The Mets announced Thursday that 126th Street will be renamed for Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. It will be unveiled June 27 as the first and foremost event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 world champions.
Many of his former teammates will be at the renaming and they hope Seaver somehow will be, too. He recently was diagnosed with dementia, a cognitive disorder, and his family has announced his retirement from public life.
“I don’t know if he could ever be there. It would be great if he could,’’ said Ron Swoboda, who on Sunday joined fellow ’69 Mets Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, Duffy Dyer and Jim McAndrew at Stew Leonard’s in East Meadow. The supermarket collected donations from shoppers for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in honor of Seaver and Harrelson, who is battling Alzheimer’s. Stew Leonard’s also will make a donation.
“I wish he was in better shape so he could more fully enjoy what it means and how appropriate it is,’’ Swoboda said of Seaver, 74. “I would also hope that he would be of enough mind to enjoy the fact that it’s happening.
“When he showed up, respectability wasn’t very far behind. You think of the one guy who turned the franchise around, the one guy without whom none of us are wearing World Series rings, that name is Tom Seaver. It’s that simple. This is a guy that was Hall of Fame quality the day he showed up.’’
Swoboda was one of several Mets who visited Seaver in 2017 at his California vineyard. Seaver’s memory loss was apparent to the group but wasn’t revealed publicly until the recent release of Shamsky’s book, “After the Miracle.’’ Seaver’s family disclosed his illness soon afterward.
“He was a franchise player, he’s the most recognizable name, the icon of the organization,’’ Kranepool said. “It’s certainly worthy of being named after him. If anybody had that honor, you’d like it to be Tom. He deserves it.’’
Dyer, one of Seaver’s catchers with the Mets, said: “I think it’s long overdue, but it’s a great honor to a great New York Met.’’
Jones added, “Whatever the Mets or anyone can do for him, he deserves it. To me he is a baseball icon, not just a great baseball player, but a great baseball man. He worked with all the players to make sure they were better. He was a teammate personified.’’
The Mets are changing Citi Field’s address to 41 Seaver Way. His contemporaries hope that is followed by a statue. “It’s timely and he’s still around to appreciate it,’’ Shamsky said. “A lot of times these things happen too late, and I’m hoping that’s not the case with him.”