Mets achieve Tom Seaver’s dream with a combined no-hitter

Tom Seaver took his first tour of the Mets’ new museum shortly after it opened at Citi Field, and it was like riding a shotgun on baseball’s greatest carnival ride ever. Seaver cried seeing images of Gil Hodges. He beamed as he watched himself punch Willie Stargell, urging his much younger self: “Smudge that knee, son.”

There was, of course, a video of Seaver’s sleekest play as a professional: July 9, 1969, 25 Cubs up and 25 Cubs down, before Jimmy Qualls made one left, the one that blemish on Seaver’s flawed game.

I asked him, as the video showed the final, Seaver being consoled for his one-hitter by Jerry Grote: “Does it bother you that the only no-hitter you’ve ever pitched came to Cincinnati?”

And Seaver’s response was curious.

“Of course. And I’ll never realize how close to perfection I was that night in 1969. But it’s funny: Every year, last game before the All-Star Game, Yogi [Berra, manager from 1972-75] would throw me, [Jerry] Koosman and [Jon] Matlack to make sure we all have work before the break. And I remember we talked a few times about what it would be like for the three of us to pitch three innings each, each of us with our best tackle, and team up for a non-hitter.

He smiled, shrugged.

“Baseball is the ultimate team game,” he said. “Why not non-hitters?”

Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver dreamed of being part of a combined no-hitter.
Sports Focus via Getty Images

It’s funny too. Last year, Seaver, Matlack and Koosman reached the All-Star break as the Mets together were in 1976. On July 28 of that year, Blue Moon Odom (five innings pitched) and Francisco Barrios (four IPs) of the White Sox had teamed up. up walking 11 Oakland players but not allowing a hit in a 2-1 win. It was only the fourth time in baseball history that a no-hitter was thrown by more than one pitcher.

(The first, quite famously, was June 23, 1917. Red Sox Babe Ruth walked Senators first man Ray Morgan and was ejected for protesting balls and strikes. Ernie Shore walked in, Morgan was caught stealing on his very first pitch, and Shore then struck out 26 straight in a 4-0 Boston win.)

So Seaver’s dream scenario was, for the moment, really far-fetched. If pitchers threw more pitches in those decades, they would also rather be intentionally put down at sunrise than put the ball back for a no-hitter.

Well, on Friday the Mets threw the second no-hitter in team history, about a month shy of Johan Santana’s 10th birthday throwing the first. Santana has been an uphill battle, 134 pitches in which Terry Collins has suffered in each of the last 35 or so. It almost certainly shortened Santana’s career. On Friday, the Mets used five pitchers – Tylor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz.

And though it may seem like a new, and perhaps undesirable, phenomenon that pitchers are now easily passing the baton in these kinds of games (Clayton Kershaw recently giving up a perfect seven-inning 80-pitch game was the most recent testimony) Well, the 32,416 who were at Citi Field on Friday — 8,000 more than the night of the Santana gem — didn’t care. It was still quite a scene.

Left to right: James McCann, Seth Lugo, Tylor Megill, Edwin Diaz, Joely Rodriguez and Drew Smith celebrate after their combined hit.
Left to right: James McCann, Seth Lugo, Tylor Megill, Edwin Diaz, Joely Rodriguez and Drew Smith celebrate after their combined hit.
Robert Sabo for NY POST
The Mets celebrate after their combined draw.
The Mets celebrate after their combined draw.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

“Put it this way,” said Mets radio voice Howie Rose, who has a way of putting Mets history in perfect perspective, “Santana was 1969. [Friday] the night was 1973. Still lots of fun. And while Rose leans toward old-school baseball sensibilities, he’s still captured the awe of the moment in his appeal.

“Santana’s was unique and spectacular for so many reasons,” he said. “I will admit, however, that even if [Friday] the game of the night didn’t have it all, my stomach was really turning in the eighth and ninth. The crowd was also there for a lot. Fans were absolutely thrilled. They are all part of this team and they created a great atmosphere at the ballpark.

Seaver never saw his dream of an unsuccessful SeaMatKoos trio. And he couldn’t have known in 1976 that in 40 years this stuff would be almost a norm. Four times, it happened until 1976; Friday was the 13th since then. And, surely, not the last.

Vacuum strokes

It’s not as easy a decision as some people think, because whatever you think of Robinson Cano, his teammates have always looked up to him, and that counts for something. Still, if by the end of business Sunday the Mets choose to keep him and demote Dominic Smith, it would officially be the first real misstep in a fun new era in Flushing.

Joe DiMaggio (and Mickey Mantle) used to joke about what a “negotiation” with a Yankees owner would look like, and they both smiled, held out their hands, and said, “Hiya, partner.” Funny stuff. What’s less funny is to think of Kyrie Irving walking into Joe Tsai’s office and saying, “Hiya, partner.” Because it feels very, very real.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

I hope Sean Marks spends at least five minutes every day wondering how different his team would be if he had only had the guts to keep Kenny Atkinson on as his basketball coach.

“This Is Us” remains essential television, and there aren’t many shows that can say that until their final encore. Well done Dan Fogelman.

Return to Vac

Richard Siegelmann: Great Mysteries of the Universe (#7): How Nic Claxton can miss 10 of 11 unguarded free throws while calmly standing 15 feet from the basket, while Chris Paul can make 14 heavily guarded field goal attempts while running in the field?

Vac: I would dare say I would put my money on CP3 if Claxton challenged him to HORSE, around the world or just a free throw contest.

Alan Hirschberg: So in the end, the Knicks won the same number of playoff games as the Nets.

Vac: Don’t think the irony was lost on the residents of Penn Plaza.

@drschnipp: Did Curtis Sliwa throw the first pitch in the very first Guardians-Angels series?

@MikeVacc: Given how the Angels buried the Clevelanders in that four-game sweep, they might have saved him to be the longman in the bullpen.

Stewart Summers: After a first-round playoff sweep, Brooklyn Nets fans likely wish the Boston Celtics had retained Kyrie Irving, Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.

Vac: Here’s the deal, Stew: you find me a Nets fan living in the boroughs, I’ll ask him that question.

New York Post

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