NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, who led the 1969 Mets to a World Series championship, has been diagnosed with dementia at age 74.
His family made the announcement through the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday and almost immediately after fans, baseball players and others took to social media to send well-wishes to the legendary Met.
Howie Rose, the radio voice of Mets baseball, also took the time to call into WCBS 880 and spoke with Steve Scott about Seaver’s diagnosis and his decision to leave public life.
“It's hard to accept but I will say that people within the Mets organization have known the situation for some time now,” Rose said.
He notes that Seaver has been dealing with Lyme disease for a number of years, which robbed him of his short term memory, and he also has been suffering from the properties of dementia for several years.
Though, he says, “with dementia it's a little bit of a different ballgame, as we know, and so this just sort of exacerbates all that has plagued him for all too long and that really cuts to the core.”
He tells Scott that the most upsetting part of learning about the news is remembering Seaver as how he was.
“I've been privileged to have a friend in a bunch of (the 1969 Mets) over the years, including Tom, and so this sort of hits home on a number of different levels,” Rose said. “He was fun loving. I just can't put it in the past tense. He’s still with us and, god willing, will be for a long time. It's just unfortunate that we have to hear about such a precipitous decline.”
Rose tells WCBS 880 that Seaver was an idol for so many, including himself, because of “who he was when he came along.”
He explains: “Tom arrives in 1967, wins the Rookie of the Year award – you can see right there he was a cut above anything – and two years later, he leads them to a World Championship. So, he was such an important figure in so many fans lives.”
Seaver has limited his public appearances in recent years and did not attend the Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner where members of the 1969 team were honored for the 50th anniversary.
With his retirement from public life, it’s clear that Seaver also will not attend the 50th anniversary of the ’69 Amazin’ Mets this summer. But, Rose says the legendary pitcher won’t be forgotten.
“The Mets are going to recognize him in a number of different ways that are in the works and I think that, you know, for anyone who thinks that the news today means that Tom is simply going to fade from relevance and memory from the New York Mets organization, nothing could be further from the truth,” Rose said.