"I don't ever think about it," he says. "Philosophically, that is. Why do I do it? What does it all mean? That doesn't interest me. I only know it excites me. It's the one thing I do in my life that excites me." Tom Seaver, untanned, wearing a gray T shirt and baggy Bermuda shorts, is standing on the sand in Madeira Beach, Fla. He is holding a piece of string to which is attached a kite that is only a speck far off in a cloudless sky. The sky is aswarm with the flap and caw of sea gulls. Big, grayish, heavy-breasted birds, they must beat their wings furiously, stomachs heaving, necks straining forward, so that for one brief moment they can level off and glide with a hard-earned and uncommon grace.
"Aren't they fascinating!" says Seaver. "The way they work at it! I could watch them for hours. I'd love to fly like the gulls. But I can't. So I pitch. If I couldn't pitch I'd do something else. It wouldn't bother me much. But if I could pitch and I wasn't, that would bother me. That would bother me a lot.
"Pitching is what makes me happy. I've devoted my life to it. I live my life around the four days between starts. It determines what I eat, when I go to bed, what I do when I'm awake. It determines how I spend my life when I'm not pitching. If it means I have to come to Florida and can't get tanned because I might get a burn that would keep me from throwing for a few days, then I never go shirtless in the sun. If it means when I get up in the morning I have to read the box scores to see who got two hits off Bill Singer last night instead of reading a novel, then I do it. If it means I have to remind myself to pet dogs with my left hand or throw logs on the fire with my left hand, then I do that, too. If it means in the winter I eat cottage cheese instead of chocolate chip cookies in order to keep my weight down, then I eat cottage cheese. I might want those cookies but I won't ever eat them. That might bother some people but it doesn't bother me. I enjoy the cottage cheese. I enjoy it more than I would those cookies because I know it will help me do what makes me happy.
"Life isn't very heavy for me. I've made up my mind what I want to do. I'm happy when I pitch well so I only do those things that help me be happy. I wouldn't be able to dedicate myself like this for money or glory, although they are certainly considerations. If I pitch well for 15 years I'll be able to give my family security. But that isn't what motivates me. What motivates some pitchers is to be known as the fastest who ever lived. Some want to have the greatest season ever. All I want is to do the best I possibly can day after day, year after year. Pitching is the whole thing for me. I want to prove I'm the best ever."