|The Seaver statue that will greet fans entering Citi Field. @Mets.|
On Friday morning, the Mets unveiled the long-awaited Tom Seaver statue ahead of Opening Day against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The crowd started forming hours ahead of the ceremony that kicked off at 10:30 a.m., with Tom Seaver's widow, Nancy, their two daughters, Sarah and Anne; Mets owners Steve and Alex Cohen; and Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza in attendance.
|The crowd at 9:15 A.M. getting a good spot for the Seaver statue unveiling (it's under the blue tarp). Photo by Jason Schott.|
"This is a tremendous day for baseball and a terrific day for the New York Mets and our fans," Steve Cohen, who was greeted with a massive ovation by the crowd, said. "I'm really excited that we get to unveil Tom Seaver's statue. I want to thank Tom's wife, Nancy, for being with us today, and I'd like to welcome Sarah Seaver, Ann Seaver, and the rest of the family.
"Mets fans are really die-hards who really know their Mets history, but here's a story about Tom that only the most die-hard Mets fans would remember. Do you know that Tom Seaver almost wasn't a Met? So you believe that? In 1966, there was a lottery for his rights. Three teams had a shot at Tom - the Phillies (which draw boos from the crowd, to which Cohen replied "a lively bunch out there!") Cleveland, and the Mets. Thank goodness we won that lottery.
"When I was a kid and I thought of the Mets, I thought of Tom Seaver. I can still see the windup, his knee dragging in the dirt, the ball exploding out of his hand, and the stunned look on the face of each batter he struck out. Tom led us to our first championship. He transformed the Mets, transfixed New York, and won the hearts of Mets fans. Tom Seaver was a great pitcher, an even greater man; he was poised and intelligent, and he represented our team as a proud Marine, with dignity, excellence, and honor."
|A banner for Tom Seaver outside Citi Field on the first-base side. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Tom Seaver pitched for the Mets from 1967 to 1977, with an encore in 1983. He was part of building the franchise up from its tough early years to being an anchor of the Mets pitching staff in their championship season in 1969. Seaver won three Cy Young Awards, in 1969, 1973, and 1975. The Mets won the National League pennant in 1973, so two of his Cy Youngs came in years the Mets were in the World Series. He won 311 games in his career, with 198 of them coming with the Mets.
"It's been said that humility is royalty without the crown - that's why Tom Seaver is our royalty," said Mike Piazza, regarded alongside Seaver as the greatest Met. "A humble warrior, Tom brought many things to all of us, but I think the biggest thing he brought to us was faith - faith in this team, faith in this organization, and faith in all of you, the fans, and that's why we love him, and that's why we'll always cherish him, and this statue is a beautiful tribute and a memory that we will always hold special in our hearts, so God bless.
"My first personal experience with Tom Seaver is when I was a kid, about eight years old, my Dad came home from work very quickly, and I grew up in Philadelphia, and I remember him arguing with my mom, and my mom saying, 'honey, he's got school tomorrow, he can't go,' and my dad saying, 'but Tom Terrific is pitching against the Phillies, we're going!' So he was a player that transcended New York, he was a player that transcended baseball, he was a player that was an icon to all, and many fans, not just here in New York, but across baseball in general."
|The massive crowd during the ceremony. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Sculptor William Behrends was commissioned to design the Seaver statue, which features his iconic drop and drive delivery and is two times life-size to scale. The statue is 10 feet high from the granite pitcher's mound and 13 1/2 feet in length. The total weight of the statue is 3,200 pounds (2,000 pounds of bronze and 1,200 pounds of structural stainless steel). The granite mound came in nine separate pieces that weighed 33,600 pounds and added approximately three feet in height.
Behrends is known for his depictions of baseball legends, as he designed and sculpted a Willie Mays statue outside Oracle Park in San Francisco, and Tony Gwynn's monument outside PETCO Park in San Diego. He also, for the past 30 years, has sculpted faces onto the Borg-Warner Trophy for winners of the Indianapolis 500.