Today was Rickey Henderson day in Oakland. The next 30 days will officially be Rickey Henderson Month in Oakland as well. No doubt, this is all deserved, but it begs the question… when will it be Dave Stewart day?
There are plenty of arguments against retiring Stew’s #34. He only spent upwards of eight seasons in Oakland… his career numbers aren’t overwhelming…. he only made the all-star team once…. and he never won that elusive Cy Young Award. The A’s have a pretty exclusive fraternity when it comes to retired numbers. Despite much history, only Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and Dennis Eckersley have their numbers plastered on the outfield wall Mt. Davis tarp. That’s right… no Vida Blue, no Bert Campaneris, no Gene Tenace, no Mark McGwire, no Jose Canseco, and the list goes on. However, if one were to list the most memorable Oakland Athletics in the last 45 years, Dave Stewart would surely be in that class. He turned in one of the most impressive four year stretches ever during Oakland’s period of dominance from 1987-1990. He complied a record of 84-45 with a 3.20 ERA. He had an 8-3 postseason record with the A’s, including 2 of the 4 wins in Oakland’s 1989 World Series sweep of the Giants.
Statistics aside, Dave Stewart should be included in this class of legends. Ray Fosse slipped that sentiment in during his speech today honoring Rickey Henderson. It was received with an overwhelming ovation from the Athletics’ faithful. Though he never won the Cy Young, he finished in the top four in the voting four years in a row. More importantly, Stew has continued to bleed green and gold, even after his playing days. He’s there any time someone else gets honored, and he still remains Oakland’s most intimidating starting pitcher since his heyday. When it’s all said and done, the organization should retire his number for one reason: The fans want it. A’s fans appreciate history as much as any other club’s, and I’d be surprised to hear any naysayers suggest that Stew doesn’t deserve this honor. He was a terror on the mound and a class act off of it. Since the A’s don’t appear to factor into the title hunt in the next year and a half, here’s hoping Dave Stewart Day is on the docket for the 2010 season.