Dick Stuart - Dr. Strangeglove
September 16, 2010
by William Szczepanek
Featured is the Topps 1959 Dick Stuart rookie card from #357. In his rookie year of 1958 playing in only 67 games he hit 16 home runs and had 48 RBIs. In his first full year in 1959 he belted 27 home runs with a .297 batting average.
Dick Stuart is famous for hitting 66 home runs in the minor leagues in one season in 1956 in 141 games for Lincoln in the Western League while batting. 298. The next year he hit 45 home runs in the minors. It's rare that you see that level of production and still be a minor leaguer. What kept Stuart from getting to the majors sooner? Partly, it was his glove, but for a long time most thought he could not hit major league pitching. He dug in at the batter's box. When the pitchers came inside, he turned away, then dug in again. He was fearless at the plate. His constant goal was to hit home runs. He was so proud of his accomplishment that when he did get to the Majors he signed his autograph "Dick Stuart 66".
He played for ten years in the majors, hitting .264 with 228 home runs. His best power year was with Boston in 1963 when he hit.261 with 42 home runs and led the AL with 118 RBIs and 318 total bases, with a slugging percentage of .521,while grounding into 24 double plays. He had a higher slugging percentage (.581) in 1961 when he hit .301 with 35 home runs and 117 RBIs.
"Isn't it odd? A guy bats .301 and has 35 homers. Then everybody starts to tell him what a good fielder he has become." - Dick Stuart
From 1958 through 1964 Stuart led the majors in errors as a first baseman. He earned a few nicknames. Dr. Strangeglove was a play on words taken from the movie Dr. Strangelove. From the James Bond film Goldfinger came the name Stonefingers. He 1963 he set the record for errors by a first baseman with 29. The Man with the Iron Glove (taken from The Man with the Golden Arm) could turn the routine play into an adventure. He once picked up a hot dog wrapper that was blowing his way and he received a standing ovation. He is rated by Bill James as the worst "percentage player" in baseball history for his inability to draw walks, run the bases or field.
Stuart made major contributions to the Pittsburgh Pirates Championship drive throughout 1960. He was in the on-deck circle when Bill Mazeroski hit his famous home run. Typical of the time, the picture of Stuart on the right shows that you do not have to be muscular to hit the ball 500 feet.
"Everybody liked Dick - but he did have trouble with that leather thing." - Dick Schofield
You can check out Stuart's stats at Baseball-Reference.com.