It was another indication that the New York Mets were being transformed from lovable losers into feared winners.
Oh, the 1967 Mets lost 101 games, but there were signs. One was that Tom Seaver was voted the National League Rookie of the Year.
Seaver never was a rookie. Yes, it was his first year in the majors, but Seaver pitched as though he had been in the National League all his life.
Tom Seaver never lost his cool.
No Mets player had ever won an official postseason award until Seaver. He became the first player on a last place team to become the National League Rookie of the Year.
The fact that Seaver set club records with 16 wins, 18 complete games, 170 strikeouts and a 2.76 ERA merely illustrates the historical futility of the Mets.
Seaver was on the 1967 All-Star team. He entered the game in the 15th inning after the National League scored a go-ahead run in the top of the inning.
Seaver retired Tony Conigliaro on a fly ball to left fielder Hank Aaron, walked Carl Yastrzemski; induced Bill Freehan to hit a harmless fly ball to center field that Willie Mays put away for the second out and then struck on Ken Berry to end the game.
Being voted Rookie of the Year meant more to Seaver than being an All-Star.
From his Manhattan Beach home in California, Seaver expressed his feelings .
"This is a bigger thrill to me than being named to the All-Star team. You only get one chance to be Rookie of the Year. If you're good you can make the All-Star team several times in your career."
Many fans in Chicago and Baltimore, even today, claim that the 1969 Mets were lucky. I saw almost every game the Mets played that season. They were good.
The fans that should complain are those that root for the Atlanta Braves. In a college draft, the Braves obtained Seaver and signed him for $40,000 in Feb. 1966. Commissioner Eckert declared the signing violated the college rule.
One final note. The Mets faced the Braves in the 1969 playoffs and swept them. How would history have changed if the Braves, not the Mets, had Seaver?