If any man was born to be a designated hitter, it was Dick Stuart, alias Dr.
Strangeglove and the Boston Strangler. Unfortunately, Stuart came along before
the DH rule came into effect in the American League. Stuart possessed amazing
power and could win a ballgame with a single swing of the bat. He also was a
threat to give up as many runs as he produced. The kindest description of his
play at first base is erratic. Even Hank Aaron addressed him as
"Stonefingers," and it was rumored that his glove was not made by Spalding or
Rawlings but by the Portland Cement Company.
His defensive technique was sometimes referred to as the "¡Ole!'"
approach-he waved his glove at the ball as it passed by, like a matador with
his red cloth. One day, after yet another miscue had led to yet another
opposition score, Stuart was given a standing ovation at Fenway for
successfully scooping a hot dog wrapper that had blown across the infield.
Before he came to the Red Sox, Stuart played for the NL's Pittsburgh Pirates.
One day, the announcer gave the usual pre-game announcement to the Forbes
Field crowd: "Anyone who interferes with a ball in play shall be ejected." The
Pirates' beleaguered manager Danny Murtaugh grumbled to no one in particular:
"I hope Stuart doesn't think that means him."
Not only was Stuart inept as a fielder, his base-running skills also left much
to be desired. He was always missing or misreading his coach's signs. He once
suggested: "When I get on base, why not just point to the base you'd like me
to go to?"
The press loved Stuart because he provided great newspaper copy. Once, at a
Boston post-season baseball banquet, he got up to speak and noted that his
manager Billy Herman was in the audience. "Hope you have a great winter,
Billy," said Stuart as Herman nodded his thanks. "Because you had a horseshit
summer," he continued after a short pause.
Stuart was once stopped by a Boston police cruiser. The officer pointed out
that Stuart still had 1963 license plates on his car despite the fact that it
was now 1964. "I had such a good year that I didn't want to forget it," he
Dick Stuart, who hit 66 HRs one year in the minors, is the only first baseman
in major-league history to have three assists in one inning. Dr. Gold Glove,
perhaps? More like Dr. Jekyll.
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From Tales from the Red Sox Dugout by Jim Prime with Bill Nowlin.
Copyright © 2000 by Jim Prime. Reprinted with permission.