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Tom Seaver: Atlanta Brave

Feb 25, 2010, 12:50 PM EDT

And now for my second Tom Seaver reference in an hour.

Mark Armour is a fabulous baseball researcher. He’s the man in charge of the Society for American Baseball Research’s indispensable Baseball Biography project. He also just finished what stands to become the definitive book on Joe Cronin, one of the major figures in baseball history. It’s coming out on April 1st, and you should probably order it.

But he has decided to add “pain in my butt” to his resume, as he sent me an email reminding me that yesterday was the 44th anniversary of the Braves ill-fated signing of Tom Seaver:

Seaver grabbed the attention of big league scouts after going 10-2 as a
sophomore at the University of Southern California in 1965. He was
drafted in the 10th round of the very first Major League Baseball June
Amateur Draft that year by the Dodgers, but could not come to an
agreement with the team.

Less than a year later, on Feb. 24,
1966, Seaver signed a $40,000 contract with the Braves. But just six
days after Seaver signed, Commissioner William “Spike” Eckert ruled
that the Braves’ contract was void because USC’s baseball season was
still in progress. Suddenly, Seaver was a man without a team.

It would probably only appeal to Mets fans and some Braves deadenders like me, but someone should write an alternate history describing what would have happened to the respective franchises if Seaver had been allowed to join the Braves.

Ah, forget it. Ted Turner probably would have just traded him for a warm bucket of spit and some Montana ranch land in 1976. Better that the Mets did it in 1977.

  1. Matt Casey - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Similar what-if … Mets drafted Roger Clemens in the 12th round in 1981 when he was at San Jacinto College North. He went to UT instead.
    Although I kind of like how 1986 turned out, anyway.

  2. Old Gator - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Oh boy. Thick rich history sludge. The Mutts didn’t just trade Seaver; they ostracized him for his constant public bellyaching about the way M. Donald Grant and Co. were mismanaging the team. Behind Grant was the ever-sanctimonious platitude belching of Dick Young at the then trailer trash conservative New York Daily News, the closest thing to Rush Limbaugh that ever wrote a baseball column – and Seaver was drawing moral support from the New York Post, then under Jimmy Wechsler and more akin to the Daily Worker than the poor man’s American Spectator it is now. And the story even featured collateral damage: Joe Valerio of the Post was ordered to do a hatchet job on Grant, with whom he sympathized, and refused, and was either forced to quit or was fired – depending on whether you wanted to take anything Dick Young said at face value or not. Valerio wound up working in New Jersey, which would be draconian punishment even for a statutory felony. Oh boy, I say again. What a fiasco that was.
    And whatever became of Steve Henderson anyway?

  3. BC - Feb 25, 2010 at 2:49 PM

  4. Jick - Feb 25, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    The Braves also drafted Randy Johnson, but he took his sweet time becoming Randy Johnson so that’s less of a disruption of alternate history than the Seaver thing.

  5. Alex Poterack - Feb 25, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Actually, Rupert Murdoch purchased the Post in 1976, before the Mets traded Seaver, and almost immediately pushed it towards the sensationalist right-wing tone it’s now known for. And the New York Daily News endorsed Cuomo in the mayoral race that year–hardly “trailer-trash conservative”
    \only know all of that ’cause I was reading The Bronx is Burning this morning.

  6. Mac - Feb 25, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    I think that the Braves would have won the WS in 1969, if nothing else.

  7. Old Gator - Feb 25, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    That’s a great book. Seen the ESPN series with Turturro, Platt and….oh brother, where’s my Aricept? Whatsisname who looked more like Reggie Jackson than Reggie did? Great series. Turturro as Billy Martin was a stroke of casting genius.

  8. Stuff - Feb 28, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    Yo, thanks for posting such a great article!

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