LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The baseball world lost one of its brightest stars this week with the death of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. Seaver's legend stems mostly from his 20-year MLB career, which included three Cy Young awards with the Mets when he was 30. Before his star lit the big stage, Seaver was a star at USC, where he befriended a left-handed Tom House.
House made a name for itself, of course. After an eight-year career with the majors, House earned a PhD in sports psychology and worked with everyone from soccer players to pitchers to understand throwing mechanics. However, as a young freshman to the USC team, he was paired with Seaver in a pitching exercise by trainer Rod Dedeaux, resulting in an entertaining story.
“What Rod would do would be to put two people on a hill that were completely opposite. So I throw my little swab of Doodoo 82-83 with a curveball. And this male kid next to me just goes "pow, pow" and I go "holy smoke". I kind of knew who it was, ”House said in an interview with DJ Sixsmith of CBS Local. "Rod comes up, puts his hand on my shoulder and says," Tommy House, what do you think of young Tom Seaver? "I said," Skipper, if I need this, you've got the wrong left. "He said," No, no, no, I want him to be Tom Seaver. He'll be behind the bat. "You're Tom House, you're in front of the bat. I'm just asking you to be the best you can be and I'll figure out how to put the pieces together." That's how it started . "
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As House describes it, the USC teams were considered one big family at the time. Because of this, he saw a side of Seaver that the public who saw the dominating pitcher did not see.
“Obviously his career and legend belong to big league baseball. On the flip side, however, he was a very private person and being part of the SC family allowed for consistent interaction and communication that few people saw, "said House. “He was really a smart person. Committed to baseball, but also to his family, was huge for him. And being part of the SC family and part of the big league baseball arena has been a blessing to me. "
House says when he heard the news of Seaver's death this week, he had a sleepless night. But what struck him about Seaver even in the years after his illness was how he kept attacking every day with whatever he had, even if his "fastball" wasn't quite what it used to be, so to speak.
"I have Parkinson's too, so I'm half referring to what he's been through. And he had some physical problems and obviously the mental and emotional things, so everyone pulled for him," House said. "But every day was dignity for him. He went about his daily life and survived every day just like he did when he played big league baseball. All he has, every day, to the best of his ability. "