Table of Contents:
- Tom Seaver — pitcher’s mound to wine ground
- Lyme disease
- Tom Seaver, a baseball giant, has gone vineyard small and couldn’t be happier about it.
Tom Seaver is a satisfied man, trading the dirt of a pitcher’s mound for California vineyard soil — and he isn’t looking back.
Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history. No qualifiers; no angled arguments necessary; and no need to roll out the stats. In 1992, when Cooperstown punched Seaver’s Hall of Fame ticket, he entered with the highest voting percentage (98.84) ever, beating Cobb, Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Williams, Musial, and the rest of baseball’s immortals.
In 1998, 11 years after retiring, Seaver left life in Connecticut and returned to his home state of California (A Fresno legend, he was raised in the Central Valley and his father worked in the raisin industry.) and bought 116 acres on Diamond Mountain with a commanding view of the northern Napa Valley. He didn’t buy the land just for scenery or location; in approximately 2000, Seaver began growing grapes on 3.5 acres and established Seaver Vineyards.
Meticulous and grinding as a pitcher, Seaver wasn’t moving blind, but was following a rough plan from 30 years earlier. “I was in the middle of a hot-shot career, about 28, probably the height of my playing days, and my brother-in-law asked me, ‘What are you going to do when you get done?’ … and off the top of my head I said, ‘I’m going to go back to California and raise grapes.’ I never forgot I said it; simple as that,” he tells Wine Spectator.
Seaver is no master in the vineyard. He doesn’t pretend to have a command of vineyard management or wine production and relies on the knowledge of several key employees. From the New York Times: “People didn’t come to the mound and tell me what to do. I do a lot of work, but I don’t make the decisions.”
He was consumed by pitching for 20 years — and the focus has shifted to growing grapes. Seaver is in the vineyard every single day, absolutely relishing hands-on time, pruning and weeding Cabernet sauvignon vines: “My heart lies in the vineyard. This is where the physical stuff is.”
Seaver, in a razor sharp article by Pat Jordan for Sports on Earth, can’t contain his love for the rows: “My vineyard manager (Jim Barbour) is my teacher. I just do what he tells me. Every day is exciting for me. I get mad when the sun isn’t up yet. I’m a single-focus guy. Pitching. The vineyard. I’m the worker. I pick up crap. Trim the vines a little. I did that yesterday for 12 hours, worked all my muscles and slept like a baby.”