In case you missed it, and judging by the lack of promotion you probably did, Fox aired a Tom Seaver documentary on Sunday afternoon. “Seaver” was made by filmmaker, actor, Queens native and Mets fan Ed Burns. I recall this project being announced a long, long time ago, but I hadn’t heard a peep about until midday Sunday.
The only reason I even knew this documentary would be airing is because a friend tagged me in a tweet sent out by Fox Sports PR. It wasn’t from a Mets account or anything. Just a network PR account.
“You can’t understand the Mets without knowing his tale as well.”— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) October 11, 2019
Executive produced and narrated by Edward Burns, FOX Sports Films presents “Seaver,” a new film about New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver.
📽️Airs October 13 at 3:00/4:30 PM ET on FOX.
The timing wasn’t exactly ideal for this release. For starters, the Mets aren’t in the playoffs and haven’t been relevant in like a month now. It feels like this should’ve been slated for the final week of the season once it became apparent the Mets weren’t going to be playing in October or held for a date closer to Opening Day in 2020 when excitement is high again. On top of that, the timeslot ended up head-to-head with the Jets game, whom a large portion of the Mets fanbase also roots for.
I mean, come on. A little programming research would’ve been nice before pumping this out to an audience of what I imagine was next to no one.
I’ll admit that this wasn’t some jaw-dropping doc. It was a look back at the Mets prior to existence, Seaver’s arrival, the two magical runs in ’69 and ’73, his trade to the Reds, return to the Mets, odd departure to the White Sox and Seaver interview soundbites from his vineyard mixed in. I can’t say I came away from it saying I learned much more about Seaver than I already knew. That’s not to say a lot of other fans wouldn’t, especially the younger crowd.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where Seaver was discussed with great endearment. Spend five minutes with any fan from the Seaver generation and their face will light up with glee as they recall "The Franchise's" playing days.
The whole Mets-Seaver relationship is surreal to me. All these years later and it still doesn’t make sense. You have one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game and you trade him for nothing while in the prime of his career? After realizing that mistake and bringing him back to help the young 80s core, they decide not to protect Seaver and lose him to the White Sox in an expansion draft on the verge of his 300th win? Those decisions make about as much sense as waiting until 2020 to unveil a statue of Seaver outside of Citi Field.
What I enjoyed most about the doc was simply watching Seaver interact in what was likely the last interview he will ever do. Earlier this year we learned that Seaver has dementia and will be staying out of the public eye and that’s why he didn’t appear at the ’69 Miracle Mets reunion. Just awful news and it’s really unfortunate the leader of that team wasn’t able to be honored one last time, especially for the stadium address change in his honor.
I still recall vividly watching Seaver in the broadcast booth prior to the Gary, Keith and Ron trio took over. Similarly, to Ralph Kiner, I could listen to Seaver for hours. Years later, I always looked forward to his afternoon-game appearances, especially when he would interact with Keith. The back-and-forth exchanges between those two were as good as it gets for a baseball fan.
My takeaway from “Seaver” is that I would’ve loved to have watched Seaver pitch and being a fan in ’69 and ’73 looked like an absolute blast. The best scene in the whole thing was Seaver reflecting on going back on the field hours after the series ended in ’69 and just stood on the mound alone to reflect. The field was torn apart by fans and it was truly one of those "a picture speaks a thousand words" moments when you saw Seaver standing tall, relishing in what his team had accomplished in his domain.
It was a lot of greatest hits coverage rather than unearthing new, never before heard Seaver stories and tales. That’s what I was really hoping to get out of this. While it’s a solid watch, I was left wanting more of what I don’t already know. I wish it was two hours of Seaver going through each baseball he has hanging up on a wall in his home, something that is seen in several shots, and let him recall what each ball means to him.
I have to think SNY or the Mets will strike up some sort of deal to re-air “Seaver” down the road. It certainly deserves to be seen by more of the fan base and I hope it receives much more promotion on its next go around. I’d take “Seaver” on an off day or during a rain delay over the same old Mets replays next season.
Overall: It’s a solid overview of Seaver’s life from youth sports to his post-career wine obsession. It’s well worth your time to watch Seaver conduct what is likely to be the final interview of his life. It’s a sad but true sentiment you need to keep in mind when watching. Check it out next time it airs (hopefully, someone will promote it better) and admire the poetry in motion that is Tom Seaver’s pitching mechanics.
Let’s hope Seaver has another miracle in him and this doc won’t be the last we hear from him.