Samuel Lee Stewart (October 28, 1954 – March 2, 2018) was an American professional baseball player. He pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1978 to 1987. Stewart had the best earned run average (ERA) in the American League (AL) in 1981 and he pitched in the postseason in 1979 and 1983. He won the American League championship in 1979 and the World Series championship in 1983, both with the Baltimore Orioles. He became addicted to crack after he retired from baseball; this led to a prison term that ran from 2006 to 2013.
|Born: October 28, 1954|
Asheville, North Carolina
|Died: March 2, 2018 (aged 63)|
Hendersonville, North Carolina
|September 1, 1978, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 1987, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Earned run average||3.59|
|Career highlights and awards|
Stewart established a new record for most consecutive strikeouts in an MLB debut with seven in the Orioles' 9–3 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a twi-night doubleheader at Memorial Stadium on September 1, 1978. His performance surpassed the milestone established by Karl Spooner in 1954.
In the 1983 American League Championship Series and the 1983 World Series, he pitched a combined 9 1⁄3 innings over five games, did not give up any runs, struck out eight batters. He earned an ALCS save on October 7. He had been placed on 18 months probation the day before, stemming from a July arrest for driving while intoxicated. His attorney announced that Stewart was undergoing treatment for alcohol problems.
Stewart was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Jackie Gutiérrez after the 1985 season. In February 1986, newspapers reported that the Orioles wanted to nullify the trade because of the emotional state of Gutierrez. Stewart said that he had already settled in Boston and that he would fight any attempts to return him to Baltimore.
Years after his retirement, Stewart blamed Boston's 1986 World Series loss on the team's manager, John McNamara. He said that he had not been on good terms with McNamara since he narrowly missed a team bus after visiting his son in the hospital. A confrontation ensued between Stewart and the team's traveling secretary. Stewart said that McNamara held a grudge from the incident which led to Stewart not appearing in the World Series.
The year after he retired from baseball, Stewart became addicted to crack cocaine. He said that the drug helped him not to feel the absence of baseball in his life. Several attempts at rehabilitation were unsuccessful and he slept under bridges in the Asheville area for a while.
Between 1989 and 2006, Stewart was arrested 26 times and spent several stints in prison. Following a string of domestic disturbances with his wife Peggy, he was charged with kidnapping in 1989 after she said he beat her and held her against her will overnight. They separated in 1994.
In October 2006, he was sentenced to 80 to 105 months in the Buncombe Correctional Center on drug possession charges after accepting a plea bargain as a habitual felon. He was released in January 2013, then moved to Hendersonville, North Carolina, to live with his girlfriend Cherie (married in 2015 until his death). He began teaching pitching lessons to local youth baseball players.
Stewart had a son and a daughter with Peggy; both children had cystic fibrosis. His son died in 1991 at age 11, and his daughter received a double lung transplant, before dying in 2016., He also had two sons from another relationship.
Stewart was found dead in his Hendersonville home on March 2, 2018. An autopsy report released by the Henderson County medical examiner seven months later on October 1 disclosed that the causes of death were hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
- Baltimore Orioles 9, Chicago White Sox 3 (2); Friday, September 1, 1978 (N) at Memorial Stadium Retrosheet
- Eisenberg, John. "From a hero to felon", The Baltimore Sun, Sunday, December 17, 2006
- "Sammy Stewart Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- "Stewart on probation". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. October 7, 1983. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- "Orioles seek reversal of Sammy Stewart trade". Ellensburg Daily Record. February 26, 1986. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- Grossfeld, Stan "Rock bottom" The Boston Globe, Wednesday, October 25, 2006
- Jarrett, Keith (October 11, 2011). "Former Swannanoa baseball star writes from prison". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved May 25, 2015.[dead link]
- Walker, Childs. "Former Oriole Sammy Stewart out of prison and enjoying a 'simple life'" Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, The Baltimore Sun, Sunday, October 27, 2013
- "Former major-league pitcher Sammy Stewart dies at 63", by Keith Jarrett, WLOS
- Walker, Childs. "Former Orioles pitcher Sammy Stewart died of heart disease, autopsy says," The Baltimore Sun, Monday, October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018