Tom Seaver was no longer the pitching phenom with the boyish face, unparalleled precision, and Herculean right arm on August 4, 1985. He was a legend with achievements guaranteeing a passport to Cooperstown. From 1968 to 1976, for example, Seaver had nine straight seasons of notching at least 200 strikeouts. He fell shy of the milestone by four games in 1977, the year of the Midnight Massacre trade that sent hi from the New York Mets to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman.
With the Mets, Seaver won three Cy Young Awards, the 1969 World Series, and the 1973 National League pennant.
When Seaver strode to the pitching mound of Yankee Stadium on the afternoon of August 4, 1985, he was in a different uniform and a different league. Pitching for the Chicago White Sox, Seaver found serendipity in the baseball fates placing him in New York City on this particular day to stand on the precipice of a baseball milestone. With 299 victories behind him, the 300th loomed beyond a potent Yankee lineup including Rickey Henderson Don Baylor, and Ken Griffey. Seaver won, carving another milestone into his career that began with the Mets in 1967.
Michael Martinez of the New York Times described Seaver’s pitching showcase as “a smooth and efficient performance that indelibly etched his name among baseball’s finest pitchers.” Seaver’s victory marked him as the 17th pitcher to reach 300 victories.
Approximately 3,000 miles west of Yankee Stadium, another baseball milestone occurred on August 4, 1985, when Rod Carew became the 16th player to get 3,000 hits. His was a career based on consistency, talent, and adjustments. Mike Downey of the Los Angeles Times said, “No matter how skillfully he might be hitting at the moment, or how expertly he has hit in the past, Carew generally considers it worthwhile to fine-tune his swing, rehearse it, fiddle with it, the way a mechanic would continue to tinker with a high-performance engine. This is a craftsman at work, Carew in the cage.”
Observant of the milestones historic significance, Carew said, “When you get in the class with Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and Pete Rose, it means a lot. This is something I thought I’d never accomplish, but I’ve been around for 19 years, and if you stay around for 19 years, good things happen to you.”
Playing in a California Angels uniform against his old team, the Minnesota Twins, Carew inspired Angel teammate Reggie Jackson with the achievement. “Three thousand is a brand they can’t take away,” said Jackson. “It’s like winning an Oscar or graduating from college with a doctorate. The critics can write what they want, that Rod Carew couldn’t drive in runs or couldn’t do this or that. Somewhere in the same paragraph they’ll also have to write that he got 3,000 hits.”
In addition to the feats of Seaver and Carew, Dwight Gooden reached a new height of excellence on August 4, 1985. The New York Mets pitching ace broke Seaver’s club record of 10 straight victories, scoring his 11th against the Chicago Cubs.
It was a day of symmetry. Seaver won his 300th victory as one of his pitching records fell.
A version of this article appeared on www.thesportspost.com on August 1, 2015.