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The Last Icon: Tom Seaver and His Times by…

The Last Icon: Tom Seaver and His Times

by Steven Travers

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The biography of the great Mets pitcher and Hall of Fame baseball star is generally a hagiography from the title to the conclusion. Not that I would prefer a hatchet job but depicting Seaver as near-superhuman does him no favors in my opinion. Also, Travers and Seaver share the same alma mater of USC and Travers doesn’t miss any opportunity to mention it. I did learn some interesting things about Seaver such as the fact that he was a late bloomer and didn’t become a great pitcher until his college years. There are also some interesting details of his Mets years and relationships with coaches and players. The diehard Mets or baseball fan may want to read this book but otherwise I think the great Seaver biography remains to be written. ( )
  Othemts | Aug 31, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Tom Seaver was a great pitcher, one of the best of his era. This biography of him is not.

It is clear that the author is a huge fan, but the hagiography was excessive. Were this the only baseball book one ever read, the reader would think that Seaver was the only pitcher who sometimes lacked run support, was the only player who didn't cheat on his wife, and was the only person who was flawless. While there are some new and interesting facts about Seaver's motivations and early career, the rest of the book is a repetitive mix of the following observations:

- Seaver lost a lot of games that he should not have, had he received the proper number of runs from his hapless teammates;
- Seaver loved his wife so much that when he traveled with her, he made his married teammates, who would shag anything and everything, uncomfortable;
- Seaver was so much better than any other pitcher of the era who dared to win an award or a game for which Seaver was vying;
- Seaver did not care about money or fame, except when he did;
- Seaver was a conservative white male who was friendly with every one of his black teammates but not his white ones, except Buddy Harrelson and Jerry Grote.

It is a shame that a book written by someone who obviously has a lot of admiration for Seaver fails to respect anyone else who competed against him. Again, Seaver was a great pitcher. But he was not perfect and any biography worthy of Seaver should have recognized that his flaws may have been even more interesting to explore than his greatness. ( )
  plumdog28 | Mar 3, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Having received the book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers, I thought I should read the complete book before writing a review. If not for that, I would have stopped at about page 80. This book was in great need of an editor.

There are some interesting parts of the book. The time Seaver spent in the Alaska summer league was worth reading. But there were also thoughts thrown in that seemed to have no connection to the content and interrupted the flow of the book.

What could have been a good book about an excellent pitcher is spoiled by the writing. Too much of the time, the author gets carried away trying to be clever in setting the scene. Imagine a collection of former baseball greats in heaven watching and nodding approval as Seaver goes into the 9th inning with a chance for a perfect game. That was where I almost put the book down and quit.

The author also overdoes his whining about lack of run production by Seaver's teammates. He repeatedly says that Seaver should have had five or more additional wins in any given year if only the team had scored runs for him like it did for other pitchers. According to the author, no other player of any era was ever as good nor can any future player ever be as good. Seaver was clearly a special pitcher, but I disliked the many put downs of other players.

It seemed clear to me that Travers suffers from hero worship of Seaver to such a degree that he was unable to write a reasonably balanced biography. Too bad. ( )
  EMYeak | Feb 29, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was really looking forward to getting this book, but the book didn’t meet my expectations. There were a lot of interesting details about the highlights of his career, but it seemed that the author made too many excuses for Seaver. He often complained that Seaver didn’t get enough run support, well that’s what happens when you play in a pitcher’s ball park. The book also talked too much about politics and religion that seemed out of place. ( )
  jsewvello | Feb 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An incredibly poor biography of an interesting person. It is really a shame, as both the team and Seaver deserve better than this book gives.
This book quickly descends into rampant hero worship, with the first section of the book simultaneously gushing over USC. The author's political, religious, and ethical ideologies shine through in the entire book, and not for the good. Mr. Travers continually lectures the reader on how moral Seaver was (other teammates apparently quit being adulterers thanks to him!), how Seaver would have won 30 games every year if only he had run support, and constantly belittles all other players, simply in an attempt to build up how great Seaver was. Sadly, this does not do Seaver justice. He was an amazing pitcher. He doesn't need a bad writer to tear down other great players in a sad attempt to defend the author's hero.
Possibly the worst part of all this is the utter lack of source citations. (I am particularly curious to see the citations for the large number of teammates who apparently openly admitted that Seaver inspired them to quit being adulterers.) It is entirely unclear whether Seaver was interviewed, though I would lean towards no--the author simply takes stock quotes from other sources (then most often does not cite them). At one point, for 3+ pages, he simply repackages Pat Jordan's Sports Illustrated article on Seaver.
Book gets 1 star because at least I learned a tiny bit more about Tom Seaver and the NYMets from that era, though whether what I learned is true or not is a different matter. I ended up hating the vast generalizations, the rampant lecturing, and the author's complete and utter disregard for supporting sweeping statements with facts or examples from reality. ( )
1 vote redsauce | Feb 13, 2012 |
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"This book tells the complete, unvarnished story of the great Tom Seaver, that rarest of all American heroes, the New York Sports Icon. In a city that produces not mere mortals but sports gods, Seaver represented the last of a breed and he stayed at the top for twenty years. Here is Tom Terrific of the Amazin' Mets, worthy of a place alongside DiMaggio, Ruth, Mantle, and Namath in the pantheon of New York idols"--… (more)

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