NCAA Baseball

Tom Seaver, pitching great, relished his Buffalo home run

Thinking of Seaver’s death, Terry noted wistfully that so many of the players from those teams are gone – including Lee May, the Buffalo first baseman who went on to a standout big-league career, and Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman, an original New York Met who caught for Jacksonville and worked with Seaver on the day of his home run.

It was not the only time Seaver faced the Bisons in a season in which his record was 12-12. Brian Frank uncovered an earlier game, for instance, where Terry was again 0-for-1 as Seaver and the Suns beat the Bisons, 12-1. Terry recalls fouling off a couple of pitches, but that was about it. Seaver, he said, had a compact delivery and a way of releasing the ball with such explosive velocity that even if you got around in time it was “just like you were hitting a rock.”

That stays in his mind far more than any image of Seaver at the plate. He remembers they talked for a moment before one game about a California city where they both spent a lot of time. Seaver grew up in Fresno and – as a baseball-loving kid – was aware of Terry, five years older, who walked onto the college team at Fresno State, then played so well in the outfield that the Angels eventually signed him.

By the time Terry and Seaver crossed paths in Buffalo, they were going in opposite directions. After Fresno, Terry played outfield for a San Diego team in 1964 that included the late Hall of Famer Tony Perez, a club good enough to capture the Pacific Coast League championship. But Terry hurt his arm and needed surgery, and he told Elaine:

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