How Tom Seaver Almost Became General Manager of the Yankees
Sep 5, 2020 | By: Robert Brezinski
The passing of Tom Seaver has given baseball fans a chance to reflect on what an amazing life and career this son of Fresno, California had.
We all know what a great pitcher he was. Some people might remember that he was once an announcer on New York Yankees telecasts. What you may not know is that Seaver actually came very close to being hired to be the general manager of the Yankees.
It was 1990, Seaver's second year doing games on WPIX, the television home of the Yankees. The team was having one of its worst seasons ever, finishing the season 67-95.
They ended up last in the American League Eastern Division, the first time they finished last since going 70-89 in 1966. The 95 losses represented the third most in a season in team history.
On top of that, team owner George Steinbrenner had been banned from Major League Baseball by Commissioner Fay Vincent for hiring a gambler named Howie Spira to get dirt on Dave Winfield. As part of the ban, Steinbrenner had to step down as managing partner of the team by August 20.
Against this backdrop, Steinbrenner decided to make changes in the front office. He decided that he wanted a new general manager, even though he had hired former Pittsburgh Pirates' g.m. Harding (Pete) Peterson the previous October.
One of the people who was interviewed for the job was Tom Seaver. Though he had no prior executive experience, Seaver's intelligence and knowledge of the game came across during the interview.
Before long, talk had gotten around that Seaver was going to get the job. On Sunday, August 5, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported that the man called "Tom Terrific" would in fact become the Yankees' General Manager, saying it's "more than just a rumor. It's all but a done deal". The story infuriated Steinbrenner as he believed that Seaver had leaked the story to the press, and two weeks later Gene Michael ended up getting hired.
While Yankee fans know the job Michael did in rebuilding the Yankees, it makes you wonder what would have happened had Seaver gotten the job. Would he have Buck Showalter to manage the team? Would he have drafted Derek Jeter in 1992? Would he have had problems getting along with Steinbrenner, as both men were strong personalities?
Another question would have been how Mets fans would have handled seeing their greatest player ever in charge of their crosstown rival? While Yankees fans were certainly happy with the way things ultimately would turn out, you have to wonder how different the course of baseball history would have been if Tom Seaver was in charge.