Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sammy Stewart, 1981 Donruss #474

Sadly, the Orioles family lost another notable name over the weekend, as Sammy Stewart was found dead in Hendersonville, NC on Friday. He was 63 years old.

Stewart, a powerful 6'3" righthander, burst onto the scene on September 1, 1978. Tabbed to start against the White Sox in his big league debut, he set a rookie record that still stands by striking out seven consecutive batters from the second inning to the fourth. Though he was never able to gain a foothold in the deep Baltimore starting rotation, Sammy pitched effectively in a variety of roles during his seven full seasons with the team, posting a 51-45 record, 42 saves, and a 3.47 ERA (114 ERA+). Most notably, he led the American League with a 2.32 ERA during the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he logged 112.1 innings in 29 games despite making only three starts. In the 1979 and 1983 postseasons, he allowed no runs in 12 innings across six appearances. He even picked up a save in Game Three of the 1983 ALCS, yielding just one hit and one walk in four innings after relieving starter Mike Flanagan. Sammy was by all accounts a good and affable teammate, according to the memories that several prominent ex-Orioles shared in this obituary by the Baltimore Sun.

Sammy's career was short-lived after the O's traded him to Boston for the 1986 season. He spent one year with the Red Sox, followed by a partial season in Cleveland's bullpen. As I've mentioned on this blog before, his life away from the diamond was full of struggles. He lost two children to the effects of cystic fibrosis - son Colin passed away in 1991 at age 11, and daughter Alicia was 34 when she died in 2016. In between these two tragedies his life was derailed by drug addiction, leading to homelessness and an eventual six-year incarceration in his native North Carolina. Stewart was released in 2013, and seemed to have cleaned himself up and found peace. He remarried, and worked to build a better relationship with his daughter. And now, just a few years later, he's gone. I just hope he's truly found that peace that eluded him for so long.


Commishbob said...

Nice post Kevin. That was certainly sad but not totally shocking news over the weekend. He lived thru an awful lot. I'd forgotten about him losing two children until the obits I read. He's just a name and picture on a card to a lot of folks but he was sure special to Oriole fans of a certain vintage. I saw him pitch in the '83 Series in Game 1 and when Altobelli lifted him after he fanned Mike Schmidt my uncle was hot. Things worked out in the Series though.


Kevin said...

Thanks, Bob. Just checked the box score from that game: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198310110.shtml

I imagine tensions were high for a one-run game in the World Series. Luckily the O's found their bats after the opener.

adiddle said...

When I first heard this I could not believe it. Went to the web and could not find anything. Checked the next day and still nothing and figured it was a hoax. At last it finally hit the web and was floored. Since he was doing so good after his release this is a total unbelievable thing to happen. R I P Sammy