‘Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life’ as told by his friend Bill Madden
There's only one "Tom Terrific" and it's not Tom Brady (who learned the hard way after being denied the trademark, a move Brady would later regret.) Of course, as every baseball fan knows, Tom Terrific is Tom Seaver, who is one of the most talented and popular players in the history of New York baseball.
Former New York Daily News sportswriter Bill Madden did not just cover Tom Seaver, the two became friends. In fact, Seaver trusted Madden so much that the pitcher had asked his friend, who was covering the Yankees, to ask owner George Steinbrenner about a possible trade. It never happened, although Seaver did become a Yankee broadcaster when his career ended.
He would go into making wine and passed away this year on Aug. 31 in his sleep from complications of Lewey body dementia and COVID-19, the result of Lyme disease. Who better to write Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life than his good friend Madden, who talked to me about Seaver.
"This is a deeply personal book. It's as much about Tom Seaver the man as it is about Tom Seaver the pitcher," Madden told me in a phone interview on Tuesday. "He really had a terrific life in that he was at the top of his game in baseball, then he walked away from baseball never to come back really for the most part, and went out to Calistoga and decided he was going to make wine."
Madden said Seaver would approach winemaking the way he approached everything else in his life.
"He built himself a vineyard, got himself the best vineyard manager in Napa Valley, the best winemaker in Napa Valley and wound up making award-winning wine as well."
As for Seaver the man himself, Madden said, "He was probably the most intelligent player I ever covered, Seaver was a very personable guy but you had to know him to see that side of him."
Madden went on to say, "But more than that, because of his intelligence and because of the way he figured everything out, he always had a plan. It was really hard for me to see him at the end when he started to really have memory issues because of this Lyme disease, which he first contracted back in Greenwich in the early '70s, came back in the early 2000s. By the time I had my last interview with him in 2017, he couldn't remember anything about his career."
Seaver is one of only two pitchers with 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00. He was also a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award, a 12-time All Star and when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he went in with the highest voting percentage ever at the time at 98.8%.
If Madden were to raise a glass of his friend's finest wine to toast the great Tom Seaver, what would he say?
"I would raise the glass and say you know what, Tom? It's been a great journey and a great terrific life." Salute!
To get Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life click here.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.