Skip to content

Tom Seaver thinks pitchers today should be like him and his Hall of Fame friends

Aug 30, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Tom Seaver

This is in keeping with my observation from the other day that, when talking about the pitchers of yesteryear and their heavy work loads, people almost always talk about the exceptional and other-worldly talented, not the ones who never made it because their arms blew out.

Here’s Tom Seaver talking to Bill Madden of the Daily News about how today’s pitchers get hurt because they’re coddled, and how his generation (and the generation before) was not coddled and look how good they were:

“Take a look at all of them, Marichal, Jenkins, Spahn, what do you think made them successful?” Seaver asked. “They conditioned their arms by pitching more, not less, starting from when they signed their first contract. Jenkins threw 300 or more innings half a dozen (actually five) times. Same with Palmer, Carlton and Marichal. I keep going back to that (July 2, 1963) Marichal-Spahn game when they both pitched 16 innings and threw almost 500 pitches between them.

“Neither one of them had any adverse aftereffects from it.”

No, they didn’t. And that’s one of the things which made them absolutely incredible pitchers. It’s quite possible, however, that there are tons of anonymous guys who would have come up in the 50s and 60s and had great careers — or even good careers — but never did because they blew out their arms in Double-A or two years into their major league career and were done for.

The point isn’t that coddling pitchers is the way to prevent injuries. Obviously guys still get hurt, so Seaver’s points about coddling not being the answer could have a lot of validity to them. His point that we don’t know what’s going to lead to injuries certainly has validity, because we don’t. The point is that Hall of Famers like him and Marichal and others are not the best examples of a better way of doing things precisely because they were, by definition, exceptional.

I am certain there are pitchers in the game today who could log the innings that those guys did and be just fine. Felix Hernandez? Justin Verlander? CC Sabathia? There have to be several. But there are tons of guys who fate and physiology are not going to allow to do that, just as there are guys who pitched alongside Seaver back in the day who could not do it either without blowing out their arms.

Teams and doctors need to figure out how to help those guys. How to tailor workloads and physical regimens to — if possible — prevent catastrophic injuries from occurring. Maybe that is futile. Maybe there is absolutely no way to prevent this stuff. But I feel like it’s worth trying to do that with the best information and evidence we can rather than to just throw up our hands, say “there’s no hope” and immediately go back to four-man rotations and 300 inning workloads for everyone.

Because while that did work for Tom Seaver and Fergie Jenkins, it didn’t work for a lot of Joe Shlabotniks whose careers were over before they began thanks to blown out arms.

Latest Posts
  1. The Chicago Sun-Times wants Ozzie Guillen to manage the White Sox again

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    ozzie_guillen_090817

    Let us use this column to talk a bit about how rumors got started back in the day and how they get started now.

  2. Sonny Gray scratched due to illness

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Sonny Gray Sonny Gray

    Chris Bassitt will start in his place.

  3. Daniel Murphy returns from disabled list, Mets send Dilson Herrera back to minors

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda AP

    No one is quite sure when All-Star third baseman David Wright will be back.

  4. The lineup card for A-Rod’s 3,000th hit game is up to $810 at MLB Auctions

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    Not that anyone really wants you to know it’s up for bid.

  5. Eugene, Oregon’s Historic Civic Stadium burns to the ground

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Eugene Emeralds

    The old park housed the Eugene Emeralds until 2009

  6. Huston Street says he’d retire if he was used like a 1970s-style fireman

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:26 AM EDT

    huston street

    I’d like to tell you a story about bullpen history and a young man named Tony La Russa.

  7. Brian Dozier is the best second baseman in baseball

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Brian Dozier Twins Getty Images

    The majority of the baseball-watching world hasn’t seemed to notice yet.

  8. Mike Trout was unreal last night

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.35.42 AM

    And Chris Young was not too pleased about it.

  9. Video: The shocking truth behind the Royals All-Star voting success

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:51 AM EDT

    royals logo Getty Images

    It goes far, far deeper than you ever could’ve imagined.

  10. CC Sabathia looks like a reliever

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    sabathia getty Getty Images

    One he gets past 45 pitches he turns every opposing hitter into Lou Gehrig.

  11. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:32 AM EDT

    Mike Trout Getty Images

    Mike Trout put on a clinic against the Yankees last night.

  12. Video: Run scores after Ronald Belisario throws a wild pitch on an intentional walk

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:23 AM EDT

    belisario

    We often take intentional walks for granted. Four tosses to the catcher. How hard can it be? Pretty hard, at least sometimes.

  13. Billy Hamilton steals four bases against the Twins, now up to 40 stolen bases on the year

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT

    CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 29: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds steals second base in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Great American Ball Park on June 29, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton now has 40 stolen bases on the year, which is more than 15 MLB teams. You are reading that correctly.

  14. Pablo Sandoval swung at a pitch tonight that was five feet off the ground

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:58 PM EDT

    sandoval 1

    You’ve probably heard this advice for hitting knuckleballers before: If it’s low, let it go. If it’s high, let it fly. Well, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval took that to the extreme tonight against R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays…

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Matz (4095)
  2. B. Harper (4002)
  3. H. Ramirez (3737)
  4. J. Hamilton (3725)
  5. G. Stanton (3444)
  1. M. Moore (3126)
  2. Y. Puig (3060)
  3. A. Jones (2622)
  4. F. Freeman (2596)
  5. M. Holliday (2574)