On this date in 1984 (Jan. 23), much to the chagrin of the New York Mets, their fans and the man himself, the White Sox selected iconic pitcher Tom Seaver as compensation for losing a “Type A” free agent.
The Mets left Seaver unprotected figuring no one would pick a 39-year old right-hander who had gone 9-14 in 1983 with a hefty salary. The White Sox had a pick in this draft for losing pitcher Dennis Lamp to free agency following the 1983 season.
So crushed was Seaver by this, he couldn’t get through a farewell press conference he had requested a few days after the transaction was completed and the Sox had signed Seaver to a multi-year contract.
Had the Mets done their homework, they would have known White Sox general manager Roland Hemond had a move like this in him.
A year earlier, Hemond had toyed with selecting Cub pitcher Ferguson Jenkins in the same “compensation pool draft.” The White Sox didn’t take Jenkins but did wind up making a blockbuster deal with the Cubs that left Cub general manager Dallas Green saying he was “relieved.”
There was no swap this time and Seaver joined a powerhouse Sox rotation that featured LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Richard Dotson and Britt Burns.
While he had misgivings about leaving the Mets, a team he had rejoined for the 1983 campaign, Seaver eventually warmed to his first American League home. “Tom Terriffic” spoke fondly of his days with the White Sox and his association with Carlton Fisk during and after his legendary career.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Chicago and the experience working with the players, especially Carlton Fisk,” Seaver said prior to the 1986 season. “I have certainly enjoyed the last two years on this ballclub and I think Chicago is a great baseball town.”
Seaver had two excellent seasons with the White Sox. He went 15-11 with a 3.95 ERA in 1984 and 16-11 with a 3.17 ERA in 1985.
The highlight of Seaver’s tenure with the White Sox came on Aug. 4, 1985 when he won logged his 300th victory with a complete game effort at Yankee Stadium.
Seaver’s time in Chicago came to an end on June 29, 1986 when he was dealt by general manager Ken Harrelson to the Boston Red Sox for utilityman Steve Lyons.
Seaver was 33-28 with a 3.67 ERA in 81 outings (79 starts) with 17 complete games and five shutouts with the Sox.
Seaver’s numbers could have been markedly better with the Sox considering he was on the losing end of a shutout a total of six times in 1984 and 1985 and he left with a lead that the bullpen blew six times in 1984.