NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Tributes continue to pour in for New York Mets pitching great Tom Seaver who died this week at age 75 from complications of dementia and COVID-19.
His plaque in Cooperstown lauds Seaver as a power pitcher who helped change the Mets from "lovable losers" to "formidable foes."
Seaver was an inspiration to his legions of fans, including a young Howie Rose.
Rose, the radio voice of the Mets, tells WCBS 880 that he looked up to Seaver as a kid before later becoming a colleague in the booth and a friend.
"This is someone who I grew up idolizing from when he became a Met, when I was 13, and won the Rookie of the Year and two years later, helped them win a World Series," Rose said. "Having gotten to know him, given what he meant to me as a kid, was kind of a thrill."
The Mets broadcaster said he learned how to be a professional by watching Seaver conduct himself both on and off the field.
"There was a way he went about his business on the mound that basically defined professionalism," Rose said. "Watching the way Seaver went about his business for a bad ball club when he came up in 1967 and never displaying any emotion, never betraying the trust or confidence of his teammates was something that, if you paid attention to, was impossible not to absorb and I felt that anybody who watched Tom perform would take things like that from him and just make them better at what they do, even as amateurs."
Seaver won 311 games, tossing 231 complete games and 61 shutouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992 when he appeared on 425 of 430 ballots for a then-record 98.84%.
After his illustrious baseball career, that earned him three Cy Young awards, the 12-time All-Star went on to become a winemaker in Calistoga, California — where he spent his last years — and even steered his bottles to a championship.
"Getting to see him, not only at work as a pitcher, but to have had the honor of being with him at his vineyard several years ago and seeing, not only what growing grapes meant to him, but to the level at which he succeeded at doing it — one of his earliest Cabernets got something like a 97 or 98 from Wine Spectator and so, along the way I came to the realization that this was a Renaissance man," Rose said. "I mean imagine being brilliant enough at what you do to have a Hall of Fame-caliber career in one field and then, to some extent, duplicate that in another."
Rose said that should come as no surprise because anything Seaver set his mind to was going to be an enormous success.
On a personal level, Rose remembers Seaver as a guy who just loved to have fun.
"He was a rip to be around," he recalled. "He had a whimsical side to him that was always looking for the joke. He was always willing to remind you, quite playfully, that he was a Hall of Famer. I mean, God forbid you should pat him on the shoulder, he'd turn around and say, 'Where does it say you get to touch the Hall of Famer?' and you'd break into a big laugh because that was him."