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This Date in Mets History: January 20 - Midnight Massacre II: The Re-Massacring

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Just seven years after Mets fans saw Tom Seaver abruptly depart, they had to deal with it happening again.

An ugly sight for Mets fans. And the uniform's pretty gaudy, too.
An ugly sight for Mets fans. And the uniform's pretty gaudy, too.
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

The late career reunion between the Mets and Tom Seaver came to an abrupt end on this date in 1984. Reacquired via a trade with the Reds one offseason earlier, Seaver made 34 starts with the Mets in 1983, going 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA and giving fans something to root for in a season that otherwise saw the Amazins finish last for the fifth time in seven years.

For as much good will as the Franchise's return generated, going into the 1984 season, Seaver was a 39-year old pitcher just one year removed from serious arm injuries who'd rebounded to put up a roughly league average numbers. As such, GM Frank Cashen assumed it was a safe risk leaving Seaver unprotected in the annual free agent compensation draft.*

*Rather than grant teams who lost a Type A free agent a compensation pick in the amateur draft, beginning in 1981, said teams were allowed to select one player from the roster of a franchise who'd made an offer to a top-flight FA. If that sounds unfair and like it unfairly punishes random teams for the profligate spending of others, you're right. Also, Tom Seaver agrees with you (see below).

I've become more upset about this as things went along. I don't really understand everything that went on. It's very confusing.

Cashen's gambit backfired. As compensation for losing pitcher Dennis Lamp to the Blue Jays via free agency, the Chicago White Sox grabbed Seaver from the Mets. An incensed Tom (see above) initially contemplated retiring rather than joining Sox, despite being 27 wins short of reaching the 300 plateau. Chicago co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf, however, convinced Seaver a rotation that featured him, LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson, Floyd Bannister, and Britt Burns was one that could win the World Series.

That turned out to be hyperbole. For the Mets, though, Seaver's departure opened up a spot on the pitching staff for a young prospect named Dwight Gooden. Three seasons later, he fronted a rotation that actually could (and did) bring home a championship.

Birthdays
Catcher Jesse Gonder would have been 83 today. He's the first player in Mets history to give the team at least league-average production from the backstop position over the course of a full season, posting an OPS+ of exactly 100 in 131 games during 1964.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Comedian George Burns was born on this date way back when in 1896. The legendary gag man mastered just about every medium in his century-long career, though his most indelible role was probably that of a wise-cracking deity in the 1977 film Oh, God! In the film, he tells his young disciple (played by John Denver) that "the last miracle I performed was the 1969 Mets."