New York Mets unveil statue of legendary pitcher Tom Seaver at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets made sure that nobody will forget "The Franchise," unveiling a long-awaited statue of legendary pitcher Tom Seaver on Friday by the entrance to Citi Field.

The statue, featuring Seaver's iconic drop-and-drive delivery, stands to the right of the Home Run Apple, measures 10 feet high, 13.5 feet long and is made of 2,000 pounds of bronze and 1,200 pounds of stainless steel, standing on a granite mound.

The statue came in nine separate pieces, weighs 33,600 pounds and was sculpted by William Behrends.

Seaver was diagnosed with dementia in 2019 and died in 2020 at age 75. Nancy Seaver, who married the Hall of Famer in 1966, introduced the statue alongside daughters Sarah and Annie.

"Hello, Tom, it's so nice to have you where you belong," she said in front of a cheering crowd.

In addition to the Seaver family, Mets owners Steven and Alex Cohen, Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, Mets ace Jacob deGrom, former manager Terry Collins, former owner Fred Wilpon, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Queens borough president Donovan Richards were in attendance.

"There is a reason he was called 'The Franchise,'" Cohen said. "You can't measure what Tom Seaver meant to this organization. This magnificent statue will be a wonderful daily reminder to Mets fans coming to Citi Field that Tom Seaver is forever a Mets legend."

Crowds awaiting the statue ceremony arrived more than an hour before the ceremony, hoping to get a glimpse of the monument.

"This is a wonderful way to honor dad's legacy and to celebrate his wonderful years in New York," said Sarah Seaver, Tom's oldest daughter. "The Mets have been working on this for years, and to see William Behrends' vision come to fruition is so exciting and very touching. We are thrilled to share this with all the fans who supported dad throughout his career."

The team had hoped to debut the sculpture on 2021, but the artist asked for the ceremony to be pushed to this year due to delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mets wore a "41" patch on their home and away jerseys last season as a remembrance to Seaver, the club's career leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Seaver earned three Cy Young Awards during his 12 seasons with New York and pitched the Mets to their first World Series championship in 1969.

Seaver also played for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox in a 20-year career. Overall, he had 311 wins, a 2.86 ERA and struck out 3,640.

The Mets retired his number in 1988 and he was inducted into Cooperstown in 1992.

In 2019, the Mets changed the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.