Thursday, November 7, 2013

'Dr. Strangeglove' Stuart Was Sox Powerhouse

Growing up in the early sixties as a Red Sox fan was not a lot of fun. The team was pretty dismal year in and year out. The Impossible Dream renaissance was years into the future. A player on the 1963-64 editions of The Carmine Hose was a first baseman named Dick Stuart. Had he lived, he would have been be 81 years old today. His fielding was so inept he was given the moniker of 'Dr. Strangeglove'. One windy day at Fenway, Stuart picked a wayward Fenway Frank wrapper and tucked it in his back pocket. He got a standing ovation. And yet—particularly in the 1963 season—Stuart was an offensive force. He batted .261 with 42 HRs and 118 RBIs. While he struck out 144 times, he still managed an OPS of .833 (not that we even knew what that was in 1963). He actually finished 13th in the MVP voting. The funny thing is, I never realized how good he was because his image was so tainted by his defensive liabilities. As I look back on many Red Sox players of that era, I'm constantly amazed at how decent most of them were. The teams were really bad, but some of the guys we mocked were actually pretty good. Dick Stuart is a case in point.