Tom Seaver - Early Life & Development

Early Life & Development

Seaver was born in Fresno, California to Betty Lee Cline and Charles Henry Seaver. Pitching for Fresno High School, Seaver compensated for his lack of size and strength by developing great control on the mound. Despite being an All-City basketball player, he hoped to play baseball in college.

He joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves on June 28, 1962. He served with AIRFMFPAC 29 Palms, California through July 1963. After six months of active duty in the Reserves, Seaver enrolled at Fresno City College.

In anticipation of the following season, he was being recruited to pitch for the University of Southern California by legendary Trojan coach Rod Dedeaux. Unsure as to whether Seaver was worthy of a scholarship, he was sent to pitch for the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1964. After a stellar season – in which he pitched and won a game in the national tournament with a grand slam — he was awarded a scholarship to USC. As a sophomore, Seaver posted a 10-2 record, and he was drafted in the tenth round of the 1965 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. When Seaver asked for $70,000, however, the Dodgers passed.

In 1966, he signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves, who had drafted him in the first round of the secondary June draft (20th overall). However, the contract was voided by Baseball Commissioner William Eckert because his college team had played two exhibition games (although Seaver hadn't played). Seaver intended, then, to finish the college season, but because he had signed a pro contract, the NCAA ruled him ineligible. After Seaver's father complained to Eckert about the unfairness of the situation, and threatened with a lawsuit, Eckert ruled that other teams could match the Braves' offer. The Mets were subsequently awarded his signing rights in a lottery drawing among the three teams (the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians being the two others) that were willing to match the Braves' terms.

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