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Reds great, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver diagnosed with dementia at 74

Posted: 4:56 PM, Mar 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-08 18:15:59Z

> WATCH highlights of Tom Seaver's 1978 no-hitter and Seaver talk in the clubhouse above.

Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has been diagnosed with dementia and has retired from public life.

The family of the 74-year-old made the announcement Thursday through the Hall. They say Seaver will continue to work in the vineyard at his home in the Calistoga region of California.

Seaver, who threw his only no-hitter with the Reds in 1978 and went 75-46 during his six seasons in Cincinnati, has limited his public appearances in recent years. He didn’t attend the Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in January when members of the New York Mets’ 1969 World Series championship team were honored.

Seaver, the star of the Miracle Mets, also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

FROM THE VAULT: Remembering Seaver's no-hitter

A three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year, Seaver was 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA, 3,640 strikeouts and 61 shutouts from 1967-86. A five-time 20-game winner, "Tom Terrific" was elected to the Hall in 1992 when he appeared on 425 of 430 ballots for a then-record 98.94 percent. His mark was surpassed in 2016 by Ken Griffey Jr. and this year by Mariano Rivera, the first unanimous selection.

Seaver pitched for the Mets from 1967 until 1977, when he was traded to Cincinnati after a public spat with Mets chairman M. Donald Grant over Seaver’s desire for a new contract.

The Reds acquired Seaver in the middle of the 1977 season in hopes of catching the Dodgers and repeating as three-time World Champions. Seaver went 14-3 but the Reds still finished 10 games out.

He became the first Reds pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Riverfront Stadium when he dominated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 on June 16, 1978.

In 1979, Seaver went 14-6 with a league-leading five shutouts, helping the Reds win the NL West. But the Pirates swept them 3-0 in the NL Championship Series.

Seaver went 14-2 for the Reds in 1981, but he stumbled to a 5-13 mark in 1982, when the Reds lost 101 games, and the Reds traded him back to the Mets. Mets general manager Frank Cashen blundered by leaving Seaver off his list of 26 protected players, and in January 1984 Seaver was claimed by the Chicago White Sox as free agent compensation for losing pitcher Dennis Lamp to Toronto.

While pitching for the White Sox, Seaver got his 300th win at Yankee Stadium, and he did it in style with a six-hitter in a 4-1 victory. He finished his career with Boston in 1986. He was a 12-time All-Star and led the major leagues with a 25-7 record in 1969 and with a 1.76 ERA in 1971. The Mets retired his No. 41 in 1988.

“From a team standpoint, winning the ’69 world championship is something I’ll remember most,” Seaver said in 1992. “From an individual standpoint, my 300th win brought me the most joy.

“My biggest disappointment? Leaving the Mets the first time and the difficulties I had with the same people that led up to it. But even that I look back at in a positive way now. It gave me the opportunity to work in different areas of the country.”

A star at the University of Southern California, Seaver was drafted by Atlanta in 1966 and signed with the Braves only for baseball Commissioner William Eckert to void the deal because the Trojans already had played exhibition games that year; baseball rules at the time prohibited a club from signing a college player whose season had started. Any team willing to match the Braves’ signing bonus could enter a lottery, and the Mets won out over Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Among baseball’s worst teams from their expansion season in 1962, the Mets lost more than 100 games in five of their first six seasons and had never won more than 73 games in their first seven years. With cherished Brooklyn Dodgers star Gil Hodges as their manager, a young corps of pitchers led by Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and a still-wild Nolan Ryan, and an offense that included Cleon Jones and Tommy Agee, the Mets overtook the Chicago Cubs to win the NL East with a 100-62 record.

They swept Atlanta in the first NL Championship Series to reach the World Series against highly favored Baltimore, which had gone 109-53. Seaver lost the opener 4-1 in a matchup with Mike Cuellar, then pitched a 10-inning six-hitter to win Game 4, and the Mets won the title the following afternoon.

His most memorable moment on the mound was at Shea Stadium on July 9, 1969, when he retired his first 25 batters against the Chicago Cubs. Pinch-hitter Jimmy Qualls had a one-out single to left-center in the ninth before Seaver retired Willie Smith on a foulout and Don Kessinger on a flyout.

“I had every hitter doing what I wanted,” Seaver recalled in 1992. “Afterward, my wife was in tears and I remember saying to her: ‘Hey, I pitched a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. What more could I ask for?’”