Ex-O's pitcher Stewart, who fell on hard times, dies at 63
(AP Photo/Tom Lynn, File)
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) Former Baltimore pitcher Sammy Stewart, who helped the Orioles win the 1983 World Series before falling into a life of crack cocaine addiction and arrests, has died. He was 63.
The Henderson County Sheriff's Office said Stewart was found dead Friday at a residence. No cause for his death had been determined as of Sunday.
Known as the "Throwin' Swannanoan" for his hometown in North Carolina, Stewart became an instant hit in Baltimore. The right-hander with a big fastball set a major league record by striking out seven straight batters in his major league debut in 1978 against the White Sox at Memorial Stadium.
With flowing hair and a bushy mustache, a country twang and a penchant for telling funny stories, Stewart was widely popular with his Baltimore teammates.
"We had some incredible days with this guy," former catcher Rick Dempsey said alongside Stewart during an Orioles telecast in 2016.
Stewart enjoyed plenty of successful days on the field, too, especially in the postseason.
Stewart had a 0.00 ERA in four World Series games, spanning 7 2/3 innings. He threw three times in the 1983 championship victory over Philadelphia.
In a picture that captured his personality, Stewart was shown holding an umbrella as a teammate poured champagne after the Orioles clinched the 1983 AL East title with a win at Milwaukee.
"I never did get down," Stewart said during that TV interview with Dempsey.
Stewart went 59-48 with 45 saves and a 3.59 ERA in 10 seasons - the first eight with Baltimore, then one each with Boston and Cleveland. He pitched in 359 games, including 25 starts.
Stewart threw 956 2/3 innings, striking out 586 and walking 502.
His career ended in 1987 and off the field, his life spiraled out of control. Many who knew him said Stewart declined after the death of his son at 11 to cystic fibrosis.
Stewart was arrested dozens of times as he dealt with addiction to crack cocaine. He pawned his championship ring, was homeless and spent more than six years in prison before being released in 2013.
Stewart stayed in touch with teammates and did autograph shows with them after getting out of prison. He had worked as an instructor at a baseball and softball center in North Carolina in the past year.
Updated March 4, 2018