Samuel Lee "Sammy" Stewart (born October 28, 1954) is a former professional baseball player. He pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1978 to 1987. Stewart had the best earned run average (ERA) in the American League (AL) in 1981 and he pitched in the postseason in 1979 and 1983. Stewart struggled with drug addiction after he retired from baseball; his addiction culminated in a prison term that ran from 2006 to 2013.
Stewart was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended Owen High School in Swannanoa, North Carolina, and Montreat College, and signed his first pro contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 1975.
Stewart established a new record for most consecutive strikeouts in an MLB debut with seven in the Orioles' 9–3 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a twi-night doubleheader at Memorial Stadium on September 1, 1978. His performance surpassed the milestone established by Karl Spooner in 1954.
Stewart appeared in one game of the 1979 World Series. In 2 2⁄3 innings, he gave up four hits but did not surrender a run. In 1981, Stewart led the American League in ERA (2.32).
In the 1983 American League Championship Series and the 1983 World Series, he pitched a combined 9 1⁄3 innings over five games, did not give up any runs, struck out eight batters. He earned an ALCS save on October 7. He had been placed on 18 months probation the day before, stemming from a July arrest for driving while intoxicated. His attorney announced that Stewart was undergoing treatment for alcohol problems.
Stewart was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Jackie Gutiérrez after the 1985 season. In February 1986, newspapers reported that the Orioles wanted to nullify the trade because of the emotional state of Gutierrez. Stewart said that he had already settled in Boston and that he would fight any attempts to return him to Baltimore.
Years after his retirement, Stewart blamed Boston's 1986 World Series loss on the team's manager, John McNamara. He said that he had not been on good terms with McNamara since he narrowly missed a team bus after visiting his son in the hospital. A confrontation ensued between Stewart and the team's traveling secretary. Stewart said that McNamara held a grudge from the incident which led to Stewart not appearing in the World Series.
He pitched in 359 major league games, finishing with a 59–48 record, 45 saves, and a 3.59 earned run average (ERA).
The year after he retired from baseball, Stewart became addicted to crack cocaine. He said that the drug helped him not to feel the absence of baseball in his life. Several attempts at rehabilitation were unsuccessful and Stewart slept under bridges in the Asheville area for a while.
Between 1989 and 2006, Stewart was arrested 26 times and spent several stints in prison. Following a string of domestic disturbances with his wife Peggy, he was charged with kidnapping in 1989 after Peggy said that he beat her and held her against her will overnight. Stewart separated from Peggy in 1994. In October 2006, he was sentenced to 80 to 105 months in the Buncombe Correctional Center on drug possession charges after accepting a plea bargain as a habitual felon. He was released in January 2013. After his release from prison, Stewart moved to Hendersonville, North Carolina, to live with his girlfriend Cherie. He began teaching pitching lessons to local youth baseball players.
Stewart had a son and a daughter with Peggy; both children were affected by cystic fibrosis. His son died in 1991 at age 11, while his daughter received a double lung transplant. He also has two sons from another relationship.