When it comes to baseball nicknames, there have been few as brilliant as Dick Stuart's "Dr. Strangeglove". It was a topical play on both his questionable fielding abilities and Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic dark comedy Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Fun facts about Dick Stuart:
-Born in San Francisco, Dick was signed by the Pirates in 1951 at age 18.
-Despite an excellent power bat (he hit 221 homers in the minors, including an eye-popping 66 at Single-A Lincoln in 1956), he did not debut with Pittsburgh until 1958. This was due in part to two years of military service, but an inability to draw walks and his aforementioned poor glove did not help his cause either.
-Stuart made up for lost time by swatting 16 home runs in just 67 games as a rookie.
-About that defense: in each of his first seven seasons in the majors, Dick led the league in errors at first base; this includes his abbreviated rookie season! In 1963, he misplayed 29 balls. Making no pretense, the slugger had a vanity license plate on his car that read "E3". Some of his other nicknames included "Stonefingers" (a takeoff on the James Bond film Goldfinger
) and "The Man With the Iron Glove".
-His breakout year was 1961, when he was an All-Star for the only time in his career on the strength of a career-high .301 average as well as a team-leading 35 home runs and 117 RBI.
-After a poor follow-up season, Dick was traded to the Red Sox. He responded by leading the American League with 118 RBI in 1963, to go along with a career-high 42 homers.
-The next year, Stuart once again led Boston in home runs and RBI (33 and 114, respectively), but was dealt again, this time to the Phillies. He was second on the club with 28 homers and 95 driven in, but batted only .234.
-He scuffled for the last four seasons of his career, which were spent with the Mets, Dodgers, the Taiyo Whales of Japan, and the Angels.
-Stuart's career ended in 1969. In parts of ten big league seasons he batted .264 with 228 homers and 743 RBI.
-He passed away in 2002 at age 70. His family reported that cancer was the cause of death.
As I commented recently on the 1964 Topps blog (under AL HR Leaders), here's an excerpt from Dick Stuart’s Wikipedia page:
"...Stu once picked up a hot dog wrapper that was blowing toward his first base position. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. It was the first thing he had managed to pick up all day, and the fans realized it could very well be the last."
Love the pomade look. Some 1950-ish looking guys in this set (Nick Willhite comes to mind).ReplyDelete
Jim - Haha, I saw that comment as well. You have to love Wikipedia.ReplyDelete
Doug - Very true. The flattop haircuts are a trip as well.
Two thoughts on this guy. First, the picture is the same one from his 1963 card. Topps was really going to the photo vault.ReplyDelete
Second, Dick's nickname was also what twins fans called willie norwood in the late 70's.
Obviously, Steward was a DH twenty years too soon. I sort of doubt that Stewart's inability to draw walks had much to do with his delay in getting to the majors. It was more likely his fielding. I don't think teams placed much emphasis on walks and on-base percentage in the fifies, at least for sluggers.ReplyDelete
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When Stuart was on the great Home Run Derby in 1959/60, he actually won a couple of times. Every time I watch his episodes, I cant shout "Don't drop it!" when Mark Scott hands him his check!ReplyDelete
Holste - Nice catch there!ReplyDelete
Marc - You're probably right about his defense being the major thing that held him back. I'm just saying that he didn't have much pitch recognition in him.
Lou - I remember watching those on ESPN Classic...that is a great show!
I caddied for him once about 1976. He kept asking the others in the group what they lay. Finally, the member who invited him to the club very sharply told Dick to shut up and pay attention to his own ball. Very odd man. Sort of half Harry Callahan, half Frank Drebin.ReplyDelete