Tom Seaver had a simple goal for Tuesday night's ceremonial first pitch before the All-Star Game: "I just wanted it to go in the air," he said. "That's all."
After some pre-pitch theatrics that involved a mock windup from the rubber, Seaver moved up on the mound and tossed the ball straight but short. Catcher David Wright stepped up to intercept it.
"Wright saved me. He caught it when it was in the air," Seaver told a small group of reporters after a quick change out of his National League jersey and into a butterfly-patterned shirt.
(On Fox, he graded himself: "I would be no prospect whatsoever. Prospect too old and no life on his fastball.")
Seaver said he had been practicing at his California vineyard. "I was trying not to embarrass myself," he said.
That would have been difficult in any case before an adoring crowd at Citi Field that greeted the franchise's best player with a warm ovation.
The moment had added poignancy because Seaver, 68, has been recovering from Lyme disease, a condition that a year ago was affecting his speech and memory and had many in the Mets organization concerned for his health.
"I'm getting better," he said. "It's not life-threatening. Well, it is life-threatening if you pass out and you go into a truck or whatever. But a year ago, I had Lyme disease. I've been fighting it. I'm going great."
Seaver pronounced himself "duly impressed" with Matt Harvey, who joined Seaver and Dwight Gooden as All-Star Game starters as Mets.
"I've never talked to him," Seaver said. "It would be interesting to talk to him and see what the mind-set is like. The numbers are good."
Seaver said he rarely watches games on television but is a "voracious boxscore reader" who has noted the paucity of complete games and loathes how important a statistic innings pitched has become -- for Harvey and others.
"I just disagree with some computer running the numbers and then applying it to these people," he said.
The last time the Mets hosted a Midsummer Classic, in 1964, Seaver was pitching for the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in a summer league for collegians.
So what did he think of the experience in Queens?
"You know what was the most enjoyable for me?" he said. "It was watching the players coming out, because it brought so many wonderful memories and excitement for the game that I love. Seeing their game faces start to come on and the pride they have in the National League, I probably enjoyed that more than anything out there."