Baseball

Baseball Hall of Famer and Fresno native Tom Seaver diagnosed with dementia at 74

Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver speaks during a ceremony to rename a section of Echo Avenue in front of his alma mater Fresno High School as “Tom Seaver Lane” in October 2013. Seaver graduated from Fresno High in 1962.
Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver speaks during a ceremony to rename a section of Echo Avenue in front of his alma mater Fresno High School as “Tom Seaver Lane” in October 2013. Seaver graduated from Fresno High in 1962. Fresno Bee file

Baseball Hall of Famer and Fresno native Tom Seaver has been diagnosed with dementia and has retired from public life.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the family of the 74-year-old says Seaver will continue to work in the vineyard at his Napa Valley home.

Seaver’s family said he recently learned he has dementia. But for many years, Seaver has suffered from the effects of Lyme disease, which can cause cognitive problems similar to dementia.

Seaver 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.

His last appearance in Fresno was in October 2013 when the city and his alma mater collaborated to dedicate Echo Avenue outside Fresno High School as Tom Seaver Lane.

Seaver won 311 games in a 20-year Major League Baseball career and earned three Cy Young awards as the National League’s best pitcher. The first of those awards came in 1969 when Seaver won 25 games and led the “Amazin’ “ Mets, once the laughing stock of sports, to the World Series title.

Seaver was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with 98.84 percent of the vote, at the time the biggest percentage ever. (Only Mariano Rivera, a unanimous pick this year, and Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016 have surpassed him.)

Reggie Jackson, also a Hall of Famer, once said of Seaver: “Blind people come to the park just to listen to him pitch.”

Seaver at the 2013 Fresno High event said the street-name honor is “terrific – pardon the pun.” Seaver in his playing days was nicknamed Tom Terrific.

He was a gifted athlete at Fresno High (Class of 1962) but in his own words was “a 5-9, 165-pound junkballer” as a baseball player. But after an enlistment in the Marines, he reported to Fresno City College for the 1964 season as a 6-foot 1-inch, 190-pound power pitcher.

He went 11-1 for Fresno City and was recruited to USC where he played two years before signing with the Mets.

He was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986, joining his father, Charles Seaver.

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