NY Mets fans celebrate at Citi Field

Awesome Tom. Franchise.

Memorabilia of No. 41 filled Citi Field on Friday as a Tom Seaver sculpture was unveiled to fans, friends and family ahead of the New York Mets’ home opener against the Diamondbacks. ‘Arizona.

Weighing 3,200 pounds, the steel artwork stands at the stadium gate near the exit of the 7 train.

Under clear blue skies on a blustery morning, Mets owner Steve Cohen introduced the Seaver family, Tom’s widow, Nancy, holding back tears as he thanked Mets fans.

“Hello Tom,” Nancy Seaver said before the statue was unveiled. “It’s so nice to have you here.”

She remembers arriving in New York with her husband from California as 22-year-olds were beginning their lives together.

“After we arrived here, we felt embraced by the fans, by the audience. It made me feel like home,” she said.

George Thomas Seaver joined the New York Mets in 1967 and was instrumental in the “Miracle Mets” victory in the 1969 World Series over the Baltimore Orioles.

With the Mets, Seaver won the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year Award and three National League Cy Young Awards as the league’s top pitcher.

Seaver passed away in August 2020.

Cohen recalled that Seaver almost didn’t come to New York.

“Do you know Tom Seaver was almost no Met,” Cohen told the crowd. “In 1966 there was a lottery for his rights. Three teams had a chance against Tom – the Phillies, Cleveland and the Mets. Thank God we won that lottery.”

But in a move known to fans as the “Midnight Massacre,” Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the Major League Baseball trade deadline, June 15, 1977, for pitcher Pat Zachry, the outfielder Steve Henderson, outfielder Doug Flynn and outfielder Dan. Norman.

This exchange broke the heart of Rockaway fan Jerry Lyness. He remembers crying when he heard the news.

On Friday, Lyness was with her son Patrick, who lives in Parsipanny. They arrived before 9 a.m. to see the unveiling of Seaver’s statue.

“It is everything to me, my childhood. The biggest,” Jerry said, adding that the day Seaver was traded was the saddest day in Mets history.

Patrick, 27, grew up with the game watching the Mets with his father. Going to the ball is their father-son activity.

Jim and Teresa Cinnamond of Mountain Lakes were eager to see the statue as they remembered Seaver’s prowess as a Met.

“In 1969 I was 9 years old, playing Little League, the Mets were my team,” 63-year-old Jim Cinnamond said.

Tapping into nostalgia is a good move for the Mets to honor some of the team’s best players, Cinnamond said. He believes Seaver is the Mets equivalent of Dodgers left-hander Sandy Koufax.

Mike Piazza and Keith Hernandez, two of the greatest Mets of all time, attended the unveiling, with Piazza calling Seaver “the greatest Met of all time”.

“It’s Mr. Met,” Hernandez said after the statue was unveiled. “There is only one Tom. There should only be one statue.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Tom Seaver is the reason he’s a Mets fan.

“I remember seeing Tom Seaver for the first time when I was 7,” Christie said. “He’s my baseball hero.”

Sculptor William Behrends created the statue in Seaver’s likeness with a bronze exterior and stainless steel interior. Behrends said he studied Seaver and created several small statues before embarking on the statue that now stands at Citi Field.

The unveiling of the Seaver sculpture is an event that 51-year-old Hawthorne resident Michael Carson couldn’t miss. He rode his bike to Hawthorne station and took three trains to the stadium to get a first look.

“He means a lot to me,” said Carson, 51. “I like the way he defends his teammates.”

Mary Chao 趙慶華 covers the Asian community and real estate for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news from North Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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