Dave Stewart pitched for five different teams in his 16-year big league career but his eight seasons with the Oakland A’s are, without question, what he is best known for. Next year, the team announced yesterday, the A’s will honor him for what he did for those in those eight seasons by retiring his number 34.
Stewart first joined the team as a free agent after being released by the Phillies in May of 1986. Stewart was at a career low point, having seen a good amount of success as a reliever and swingman for the Dodgers but losing effectiveness as he journeyed to Texas and then Philly. For the rest of that 1986 season the A’s used him mostly as starter before he became a full-time member of the rotation in 1987 at which point he took off, improbably, at the age of 30.
Stewart won 20 games and came in third in Cy Young voting in 1987. The next season his A’s teammates took the leap forward with him as Stewart won 21 games, leading the league in games pitched, complete games, and innings pitched as the club won 104 games and the American League pennant. Two more 20+ win seasons by Stewart helped the A’s win two more pennants in 1989 and 1990, as well as that World Series. In all — including a final, 16-game stint with the A’s at the end of his career in 1995, Stewart went 119-78 with a 3.73 ERA (103 ERA+) in green, white, and gold.
While that’s not the stuff of a Hall of Fame career, Stewart was certainly one of the key players of a remarkably successful run in franchise history. That — in my view and, obviously in the view of the A’s — is the stuff of a number retirement. Congratulations