NEW YORK — In a word, the choice to deliver the first pitch for Tuesday night's All-Star game at Citi Field was obvious. Using an even better word, the choice was Terrific.
Yes, that's with a capital 'T.'
If Ted Williams presided over the All-Star game at Fenway in 2000 and the 2007 edition in San Francisco was a celebration of all things Willie Mays, you had to figure that Tom "Terrific" Seaver — the best player in New York Mets history — would be front and center for the first All-Star game in Queens since 1964. And he was, emerging from the Citi Field dugout before the game to the type of cheers that used to greet him in the '60s and '70s when Shea Stadium stood across the parking lot.
After initially motioning like he wouldn't be able to throw it the full 60 feet, 6 inches, the 68-year-old climbed the mound, dug his toe into the dirt and then delivered the pitch to current franchise cornerstone David Wright.
It wasn't a strike, which didn't matter to the crowd, but it did to Seaver when he was later asked about it on the Fox broadcast.
"I would be no prospect whatsoever," he quipped to reporter Erin Andrews.
Was it a little surprising that former Mets catcher Mike Piazza wasn't on the receiving end of the delivery? A little, but almost every generation from the franchise's 52-season history was represented during the sequence. Fox cameras showed Dwight Gooden after the first pitch, then they flashed down to the bullpen where Matt Harvey was warming up to become the first home starter in the All-Star game since Roger Clemens did it in Houston in 2004. If you were looking for some passing-the-torch symbolism, this was it as Mets' fans hopes for the future rest on the 24-year-old's right arm after his spectacular start to the 2013 season.
But lofty optimism aside, Harvey has a long ways to go to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Seaver when it comes to accomplishments. The 12-time All-Star pitched a total of 12 seasons for the Mets, posting a 198-124 record en route to 311 career victories. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1967 and won three Cy Young awards in a Mets uniform, the first of which came during the 1969 World Series title season. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with 98.84 percent of the vote, the highest ever in the institution's history.
All in all, it was good to see Seaver in New York and looking well. Last spring, the Hall of Fame pitcher revealed he had been battling Lyme disease after contracting it while working in his California vineyard. Though it caused him some problems with confusion and other symptoms before it was diagnosed, Seaver said he was on the road to recovery and is back to working in the vineyards where he produces his own brand of award-winning wine.