Jimmy Stewart: Former Cubs Utility Player Dies at 73

Alex SchuhartCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2012

Jimmy Stewart, from 1965 Topps baseball card.
Jimmy Stewart, from 1965 Topps baseball card.

Former utilityman, Jimmy Stewart, who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1963 to 1967, died Nov. 24 at the age of 73.

According to Cincinnati.com, Stewart died at his home in Odessa, Fla.

Born James Franklin Stewart on June 11, 1939, the switch-hitter spent 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, including his first five in Chicago. He was mostly used as a backup, though early in his career he received considerable playing time as a starter.

He spent 324 games in a Cubs uniform, hitting .236 with 196 hits, 32 doubles and 25 stolen bases in 830 at-bats.

The speedy, defensively versatile ballplayer began his professional career with Chicago after signing as an amateur free agent in June 1961. He toiled in the minor leagues for only a few seasons—showcasing his great speed while on the farm—before earning a call up to the majors in 1963.

He was impressive in his brief cup of coffee, hitting .297 with two doubles and a stolen base in 13 games. The following year, he earned significant starting time at second base and shortstop.

Stewart made 93 starts as a middle infielder that year, playing in a total of 132 games. He hit .253 with 17 doubles, 10 stolen bases and 59 runs scored in 415 at-bats.

Despite his early promise, that would be the only season in which he would tally 400 or more plate appearances, though he once again spent considerable time as a starter in 1965—mostly as an outfielder—but he struggled, hitting only .223 in 282 at-bats.

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Spending the rest of his time in with the Cubs riding the pine, the Opelika, Ala. native was purchased by the cross-town White Sox in May 1967.

In 1969, the right-hander joined the Cincinnati Reds and experienced a career resurgence as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter, batting .258 in 220 games from 1969 to 1970. He reached the World Series the latter year and even had two at-bats in the Fall Classic, though the Reds could not triumph over the Baltimore Orioles.

He waned in 1971 and was traded to Houston following the season as a part of a lopsided deal that sent future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan—as well as stars Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo—to the Reds for Lee May, Tommy Helms and himself. He last played in 1973.

In total, Stewart spent 777 games in the major leagues, hitting .237 with 336 hits, 164 runs scored and 38 stolen bases in 1,420 at-bats.

He later became a scout for the Reds, serving in that capacity for over a decade.


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