Trade: Tom Seaver for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman
Quite simply, Tom Seaver is the greatest pitcher in Mets history.
The Hall of Famer and 12-time All-Star had 311 wins, a 2.86 career ERA, three Cy Young Awards and 3,640 strikeouts, sixth most in MLB history.
Yet due to a long, heated dispute with the Mets front office, Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on the 1977 trading deadline for a package of players. The trade shocked fans and was infamously dubbed the "Midnight Massacre."
As Bill Madden of the New York Daily News details, Seaver was livid at Mets ownership for not trying to improve the declining team.
Before 1977, the new collective bargaining agreement ushered in the era of free agency. Seaver was rightfully angry at the lack of free-agent acquisitions by the Mets, especially while the crosstown New York Yankees kept signing more and more star players.
Since the Mets’ 1973 championship run, the team had slowly been in decline. The players, media and fans were widely critical of M. Donald Grant, the frugal, antagonist board chairman and former Wall Street stockbroker.
But Dick Young, then a New York Daily News columnist himself, was the only writer to side with Grant. Since Young’s son worked for the Mets front office, this evoked conflict-of-interest charges, as well as even more criticism.
And it was one of Young’s columns in particular near the June 15 trading deadline that caused the Seaver trade.
In that column, Young claimed that Seaver was jealous that former teammate Nolan Ryan made more money than him. More significantly, Young also included Seaver’s wife in the column, throwing her into the middle of the mess and enraging Seaver to the point of demanding a trade immediately.
Interestingly, with the exception of Norman, the Mets uncharacteristically acquired some valuable players in exchange for Seaver.
Zachry logged a 3.63 ERA in over five seasons as a reliable starting pitcher on a bad team. Flynn was a starter for over four seasons and even won a Gold Glove in 1980. And Henderson was runner-up for Rookie of the Year, amassing a .287/.360/.423 line in four seasons.
In the end, this trade may not statistically have been the worst acquisition the Mets have made. But they traded an ace and one of the team’s most beloved players, receiving four players that contributed only moderately to some horrendous Mets teams.
Looking at the big picture, this is the worst acquisition the Mets have ever made, and one that Mets fans will unfortunately never forgive or forget.