LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The baseball world lost one of its brightest stars this week with the passing of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. Seaver’s legend mostly comes from his 20-year MLB career that included three Cy Young awards with the Mets by the time he was 30. But, before his star lit up the big stage, Seaver was a star at USC where he befriended a lefty named Tom House.
House, of course, has made a name in his own right. After enjoying an eight year career in the majors, House earned his Ph.D in sports psychology and has been working with everyone from football players to pitchers on understanding throwing mechanics. But, as a young freshman joining USC’s team, he was paired with Seaver in a pitching drill by coach Rod Dedeaux leading to an entertaining story.
“What Rod would do is, he would put two people on a mound that were completely opposite. So, I’m throwing my little dab of doodoo, 82-83 with a curveball. And, this man child next to me is just going ‘pow, pow’ and I’m going ‘holy smokes’. I kind of knew who it was,” said House in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “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 you need me to do that, you got the wrong lefty’. He said, ‘no no no I want him to be Tom Seaver he’ll be behind the bat. You be Tom House, you’ll be before the bat. All I’m asking you guys to do is be the best you can be and I’ll figure out how to put the pieces together.’ That’s how it started.”
As House describes it, the USC teams of that era were seen as a big family. Because of that, he saw a side of Seaver that the public, which saw the dominating pitcher, didn’t see.
“Obviously, his career and legend belongs to big league baseball. But, on the back side, he was a very private person and being part of the SC family allowed a consistency of interaction and communication that few people saw,” said House. “He was really a bright person. Committed to baseball but also family was huge to him. And to be part of the SC family and to be part of the big league baseball arena, was a blessing for me.”
House says that when he heard the news of Seaver’s passing this week, he had a sleepless night. But, the thing that stuck out to him about Seaver, even in the years after he had gotten sick, was how he continued to attack each day with all he had even if his “fastball” as it were, wasn’t quite what it used to be.
“I have Parkinson’s also so I semi-relate to what he was going through. And he was having some physical issues and obviously, the mental and emotional stuff so everybody was pulling for him,” said House. “But every day was dignity to him he went about his daily existence surviving every day just the way he did when he was playing big league baseball. Everything he’s got, every day to the best of his ability.”