"Tom Seaver and Me" by Pat Jordan
Baseball, memoir, professional, Mets, Reds, White Sox
May 26, 2020
4 of 5 stars (very good)
This friendship between a Hall of Fame pitcher and a well-known sportswriter could fall under two categories. One could say that opposites attract, since Tom Seaver was one of the very best pitchers in the history of baseball while Pat Jordan was a "bonus baby" pitcher of the late 1950's who ended up washing out in the Milwaukee Braves farm system. Or, one could view the friendship between the two men as one of mutual respect for what each of them did in their chosen professions. Either way, a reader is sure to enjoy this work documenting a friendship that lasted over four decades.
The book is broken into chapters titled with the year that Jordan writes about specific interactions with Seaver. They cover various topics like a pickup basketball between them in 1971, a neat story about Jordan asking Seaver for an autograph because Jordan's grandson found out his grandfather knew a "baseball player", and later on, Seaver's small vineyard that was a successful business for him. There is baseball talk in the book as well, as one might expect, and it was mostly about Seaver but the reader learns a little about Jordan's pitching as well. This makes for probably the funniest aspect of the book as Jordan repeatedly tells Seaver throughout the years that his fastball was faster than Seaver's. Seaver takes this good naturedly, especially when he sees Jordan is not interested in the finer points of growing the perfect grapes for wine.
Even though the book is very short and has a large time gap from the 1980's to 2013, it is notable for covering most of the highlights of Seaver's career. There isn't much about his 1969 season, which makes sense when the bond between them started in the 1970's but a reader will still learn about Seaver's outstanding years with the New York Mets, his stunning trade to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 and the blunder that the Mets did when they obtained him again, only to let him be claimed by the Chicago White Sox in 1984, with whom he won his 300th game. While the baseball sections are very good, the book's main strength is in the later years when Jordan writes about Seaver's diminishing capabilities due to Lyme disease and later dementia with some melancholy prose. While it is sad to see the decline of Seaver, Jordan is able to banter with the great pitcher in those years and makes for good reading as well – both the happy and the sad.
Any fan of Tom Seaver or the Mets will enjoy this book, especially with Seaver's recent passing as it tells a side of him that many may not know about and it would take a special friend to tell those stories. Pat Jordan fits that category and does a terrific job of sharing his bond with the man whose fastball was slower than his.
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