A wise man once said, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
That man was none other than the greatest himself. The Sultan of Swat. The King of Crash. The Great Bambino. I’m talking, of course, about Babe Ruth
OK, maybe not the real Babe Ruth.
Art LaFleur portrayed the legendary slugger in the cult classic, “The Sandlot.” LaFleur came to the character Smalls in a dream sequence, reminding him of one of the most important lessons that any of us learned from cinema: heroes get remembered, but legends never die.
Days ago, the baseball world was shocked with the death of legendary pitcher Tom Seaver. The iconic pitcher, who led the New York Mets to their “glory days,” lost his battle to Lewy body dementia, a disease that Robin Williams also suffered from before his death.
Known for his 25-win season with the 1969 “Miracle Mets,” Seaver established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball early on — a legacy he carried with him to his death, and a legacy that will carry on forever in the sports world.
Seaver, or “Tom Terrific,” is regarded as one of the best pitchers to ever pick up a baseball. He’s a member of the prestigious 300-win club and the 3,000 strikeout club, a three-time Cy Young winner, and he gained 98.8% of the Hall of Fame vote, which, at the time, was the highest percentage for a new member in history.
The iconic finesse arm out of Fresno, California, electrified every stadium he was in, lighting up the batter’s box and striking fear into the eyes of every person who stepped up to the plate. Seaver didn’t just pitch well in his day; he did it better than anyone else.
Seaver, or “The Franchise” as he later came to be known, helped revitalize the New York Mets before their historic season. Prior to Seaver’s arrival, no Mets pitcher had ever won more than 13 games in a season. His first two seasons, he won 16. He had five seasons with 20 wins or more, led the league in earned run average three times and in strikeouts five times. Simply put, he was one of the best.
Now, I could go on forever about Seaver’s accolades and game statistics; it’s most of what I do in my free time with players anyway. I’m not going to put anyone through that, though. No, I want to talk about that last part of the quote: “Legends never die.”
Seaver’s impact on the game is one that has gone unmatched for years. Tom Terrific was a trendsetter and, by all accounts, a savior for the Mets. Seaver not only revitalized the struggling Mets, but also thrust some life back into a sports league that was struggling to find huge traction and notoriety. Basically, if your name wasn’t Hank, Mickey or Reggie, the baseball world wasn’t talking about you.
Seaver fixed all of that. He put a ne’er-do-well team back on the map and revitalized the game, adding a surge of competitive juices to the dehydrated game of baseball and turned it into a true competition. It wasn’t just power hitters anymore; it was a new era of power pitchers. There was Gibson, there was Koufax and then there was Seaver.
Even following his death, his legacy lives on in today’s game, with many of today’s popular pitchers emulating his style and finding their inspiration in how he played the game. Seaver wasn’t just a good pitcher in his time in the MLB; he was — and will always remain — a legend.
“Babe Ruth” reminded us that legends never die. He was right, you know. Even though Seaver is in a better place now, his legacy will live on forever. LaFleur was right: heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Rest in power, Tom Seaver. May your legacy inspire many athletes after you to be better than the best they can be, just like you did. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.