Notes: Seaver feels for Miller

Notes: Seaver feels for Miller

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The shock was audible from 3,000 miles away. Tom Seaver answered his phone, listened and was aghast. Marvin Miller had been rejected again by the Hall of Famers. Seaver, convinced the former executive director of the players union, is worthy of the honor, was surprised, a tad miffed and even embarrassed.

"I can't believe we did that again," he said.

The lone Hall of Famer elected for his achievements as a Met, Seaver had considered Miller a "no brainer the other time he was eligible [four years ago]" and almost assumed Miller would gain the 75 percent of the vote required for election -- 61 votes in his case. And though Miller received 15 more votes than he did in 2003, he was named on only 51 ballots (63 percent) and finished second, with one vote less than Doug Harvey, the former umpire players often referred to as "God," in the "composite" ballot voting for baseball executives, managers and umpires.

Gil Hodges, the Brooklyn Dodgers great and manager of the Miracle Mets, placed fourth in the composite balloting with 50 votes.

The electorate is an 84-member committee, comprised of all living Hall of Famers players and winners of the Ford C. Frick Award and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners.

"The Hall of Fame, to me," Seaver said from California, "is a repository for people who have had historical impact on the game. On that ballot, I can't see anyone who has done more for the game. Even if you disliked him, you can't deny him. Look at the value of franchises now. He helped more than the players."

Seaver was a active union member and considered a persuasive Hall of Famer.

"We had phone conferences. I thought he'd get it," he said.

Tom Glavine, too, has been an active union member. But his influence as a Hall of Famer is in the future. He too was upset.

"It's a shame for all that Marvin did," he said. "I can't say I'm overly surprised, because it happened once before. But I was hoping the right thing would be done."

A debt of gratitude: Some eight years ago, Keith Hernandez bumped into Miller on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As the former Mets first baseman chatted with Miller, he felt compelled to express his gratitude.

"I told him I knew I wouldn't have the life I've had after baseball if it wasn't for him and all he did," Hernandez said Tuesday. "I told how much I appreciated his efforts and thanked him. All of us should."

Hernandez too was offended by Miller's shortfall in the balloting.

"It's amazing," he said. "It's tragic. Marvin deserves his day in the sun. It's a rotten shame. I'm sure it's not the guys I played with -- Seaver and Mike Schmidt -- who didn't vote for him. It's the old timer's who didn't benefit from union's successes."

Zeroes across ... almost: And the totals after 2 1/2 innings: No runs, no hits and no errors for the Alomars, and no runs, no hits, one error for the Manuels. Not bad for a team that, in 46 seasons, hasn't pitched a no-hitter.

The Mets' second intrasquad game barely was a game at all, but rather a scoreless tie that featured 16 batters -- all unsuccessful -- and five pitchers, each one throwing an inning. Someone called it a gamelette.

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The highlight of the day was the third pitch, a killer slider, sidearm rookie Joe Smith threw to Lastings Milledge after Milledge has missed two fastballs. On the warmest day of camp thus far, Milledge was frozen.

An elongated, one-word critique came from the dugout "Naaaas-tee."

Milledge made a point of walking by Smith's locker afterwards to acknowledge the pitch.

"He just tapped me lightly," Smith said.

Smith and Ambiorix Burgos continue to make the most positive impressions in camp. Smith now is on level with Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber, in terms of big-league readiness, in the eyes of the staff because, as a reliever, he need not be as refined a pitcher as a starter.

Trainer's room: Carlos Beltran felt discomfort in his neck and right quad Tuesday and didn't play. ... Orlando Hernandez threw for the first time since his arthritis was diagnosed and said he felt fine.

Duaner Sanchez is throwing with an over-sized weighted ball -- the same kind Milledge uses and for the same reason -- to force himself to use the proper and natural arm slot.

"The way I was throwing felt good, but it was wrong," Sanchez said.

His first time throwing off a mound seemingly remains weeks away, and his readiness Opening Day becomes increasingly unlikely. Moreover, the club is displeased with Sanchez's conditioning.

Homonyms: Despite a successful career as a reliever at Wright State and being selected in the third round of the draft, Smith says, "I'm the second best reliever in the family." His mother's name is Lee -- not Leigh, not Lea, but Lee.

His uncle once approached another Lee Smith, the more famous and baseball-accomplished one, and requested an autograph -- "from Lee Smith to Lee Smith."

Mrs. Smith is 478 saves behind the erstwhile career leader in saves.

Speed thrills: Carlos Gomez, the gifted 21-year-old outfielder, quickly has become recognized as the fastest man in camp, even with Jose Reyes considered. Gomez left 'em all behind Tuesday, or rather they left him ahead.

Manager Willie Randolph gathered his players at the plate following the game for a 360-foot sprint around the bases. Gomez was the first.

And the only.

As his colleagues laughed, he gave it a quick round trip and slid into the plate. "It's a good thing he did," Randolph said. "Or he might have run into the backstop."

The rookie took the gentle hazing with a smile, as Milledge did last spring when he was the foil. When he arrived the plate, he said, he heard "Welcome to the Mets."

Jim Kaat lives: The time of gamelette was 29 minutes. The game moved as though Kaat and Bob Gibson were the pitchers. Jack Buck, the late Hall of Fame announcer for Cardinals games, once characterized Gibson as "pitching like he's double-parked." And Kaat worked more quickly.

Blue genes: If Anna Nicole Smith's daughter looks as much like her father as two-year-old Nico Newhan looks like his father, Mets utilityman Dave Newhan, "There'd be no need for DNA testing," father David said.

Blue eyes.

Nico and mother Karen sat behind the plate during the gamelette. Nico called his father repeatedly but went all but silent when he batted.

Quotable: "I'm not unhappy he's here. With him and me, it's always been feast or famine. Either he'd wear me out or I'd get him to hit a line drive at someone." -- Glavine on new teammate Moises Alou

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.