2 years ago

NEW YORK — Tom Seaver will be next to Citi Field forever. The Mets unveiled the Seaver statue on Friday morning, a few hours before New York played its home opener against the D-backs.

The statue, located beside the Home Run Apple outside the stadium, features Seaver’s iconic drop-and-drive delivery and is two times life-size to scale. It is 10 feet high from the granite pitcher’s mound, 13 1/2 feet long and weighs 3,200 pounds (2,000 pounds of bronze and 1,200 pounds of structural stainless steel). The granite mound came in nine separate pieces that weighed 33,600 pounds and added approximately three feet in height.

Seaver’s statue was supposed to be unveiled last summer, but the pandemic put sculptor William Behrends behind schedule. Behrends built the statue in North Carolina, then it was cast in bronze in Atlanta and trucked to New York for the unveiling.

“Isn’t it beautiful? I was so lucky to go to William’s studio in North Carolina,” Seaver’s daughter Sarah said. “I was able to see it when it was in a clay form. Wow, to see it in this position, next to the Apple, it’s exactly where it should be. It’s thrilling.”

Seaver, who passed away on Aug. 31, 2020, is considered the best player in Mets history, and for good reason. During his time with the Mets from 1967-77 and ’83, Seaver won 198 games and three National League Cy Young Awards (’69, ’73 and ’75) while leading the Mets to two pennants (’69 and ’73) and one World Series title (’69). No wonder he was called “Tom Terrific” and “The Franchise.” But being famous didn’t get to his head.

“Dad was wonderfully down to earth, and we were aware that he did an unusual job that was rare, but he was always just Dad at home,” Sarah Seaver said.

There was a who’s who of celebrities at the unveiling, from Keith Hernandez to Mike Piazza. Even former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was in attendance. He grew up a Mets fan and had the pleasure of meeting Seaver in 2010. Christie said “the face-to-face meeting took my breath away,” and came away impressed with the statue.

“I was just speaking to the artist and I was telling him what an amazing piece of work that is, how lifelike it is,” Christie said. “The scale of it is exactly appropriate for Tom Seaver.”

After the statue was unveiled, Seaver’s widow, Nancy Seaver, was emotional. When she couldn’t speak, the fans gave her an ovation and cheered her name. She then paraphrased a line from the musical “Hello, Dolly!” and dedicated it to the statue.

“Hello, Tom. It’s so nice to have you here where you belong,” she said. “I need to express my gratitude to the Mets organization for having this very special tribute to Tom. I would like to thank old friends, dear friends, Mets friends.”