This Date in Mets History: January 7 - HOF Voters Think Tom Is Most Terrific of All

Jim McIsaac

What the Mets lack in quantity of Hall of Famers, they more than make up for in quality.

As of this writing, only one player is enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum because of what he accomplished on the field as a Met. That could (and definitely should) change in the next few days, but for now, there's just a single bronze plaque that the franchise can hang its hat on. That being said, it's the one more people think belongs there than any other.

Twenty-one years ago today, on January 7, 1992, 425 of the 430 writers permitted to cast a Hall of Fame did so in favor of Tom Seaver's candidacy. That was good for a 98.84% of the vote, the closest a player has ever come to being elected unanimously. Of the five abstentions for Tom Terrific, three came on ballots that were submitted blank to protest the fact that Pete Rose was deemed ineligible due to his lifetime suspension from baseball. Another writer, who happened to be recovering from heart surgery at the time of the election, simply forgot to include Seaver. That means only one voter consciously decided to omit the greatest Met ever and one of the best right-handed pitchers of all-time. Whoever that was will presumably remain a secret, though in this 2006 USA Today article on Cal Ripken's Cooperstown chances, Hall of Fame VP Jeff Idelson implies the reasoning was that "he didn't vote for first-time eligibles." It's not a strongly defensible position, but to each his own. Statistically, though, it's just about impossible to make a case against Seaver: That he was a merely decent hitter for a pitcher? That he allowed stolen bases at an above-league average rate? That he compiled a 0-2 record with a blown save in his six relief appearances as a Met? I got nothing.

Birthdays

  • Carlos Diaz is 55. A lefty from Hawaii who tossed 87 relief innings for the Mets in 1982 and ‘83, Diaz probably would have gotten along well with Honolulu native Sid Fernandez . Too bad the Mets dealt Diaz to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December 1983 to acquire El Sid.
  • Ten years ago, Francisco Rodriguez was fireball throwing, World Series winning ace reliever who'd just turned old enough to drink legally. Today, he's 31, looking for work, and coming off a season in which he was a member of a Milwaukee Brewers bullpen that actually lost more games and blew more saves than the LOLpen did last year. It's fair to say his Mets tenure falls somewhere between those two extremes.
  • Craig Shipley, the first Australian-born player to don a Mets uniform, turns 50. The infielder got seven plate appearances for the team in September 1989 as New York battled the Chicago Cubs for the NL East crown. None of the teams Shipley played for during his career made it to the postseason, meaning he missed out on playing in the Fall Classic. Of course, back home in Australia, it would have been called the Spring Classic. And probably preempted for reruns of Neighbours.
  • Cuban émigré Jorge Toca is 37. The tall first baseman received a cup of café every year between 1999 and 2001, but didn't do much to justify more playing time at the major league level. He was last seen playing for Acereros del Norte (North Steelers, according to Google Translate) in the Mexican League during the 2007 season.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection

The familiar red, white,and green tricolore Italian was adopted by the nation on this date in 1797. Mets fans will see Mike Piazza wearing that color scheme this March during this year's World Baseball Classic, as he's serving at the hitting coach for the Italian team. With any luck, Mets fans will be able to make arrangements to see Piazza wearing bronze-cast team attire in Cooperstown that summer, too.

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