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October 10, 2011

Imprisoned ex-Oriole writes open apology letter, mourns Flanagan

I recently received a letter from former Orioles right-hander Sammy Stewart, one of the club’s best relievers during the late 1970s/early 1980s.

A free spirit back in those days – he’ll be remembered for his wavy black hair, thick mustache, off-kilter sense of humor and an ability to pitch in any situation: starting, long relief, short relief. He won the American League ERA title with a 2.32 mark in 1981, a strike-shortened season in which he threw 112 1/3 innings in 29 games (just three starts).

He’ll also be remembered for Sept. 1, 1978, when he struck out seven consecutive Chicago White Sox, a record for a major league debut. Like most old Orioles, the North Carolinian made his home in Baltimore for a while and had three children, including two with cystic fibrosis. His son, Colin, died in 1991.

Most Orioles fans know the dark side of Stewart’s story, too. He became addicted to crack cocaine following his playing career, and was charged 46 times with more than 60 offenses over a decade-plus, primarily stemming from his drug use. At one point he was homeless and penniless.

In 2006, he began serving a sentence of at least six years for a felony drug charge and is currently incarcerated at the Buncombe Correctional Center in Asheville, N.C. He hopes to be out by January 2013.

He wrote to me so he could write to you, the fans of the Orioles and his former fans. He also is writing with a heavy heart, after he learned of the Aug. 24 suicide of Mike Flanagan. They were teammates and friends, and when Stewart ran into trouble, Flanagan tried to help.

Flanagan gave him money and wrote a letter to the federal judge in support years ago. Now, Flanagan is gone and Stewart wants to tell you how much Flanny meant to him. And he wants to apologize for his own actions, as a drug addict and con man. He also included his address in case people wanted to write to him: Samuel Stewart, 0390745. PO Box 18089. Asheville, NC 28814.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Hello to Baltimore, friends, fans and family from Buncombe Correctional Center in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve been thinking more lately, and it seems all the old times are really dwindling away. These last five years have definitely altered my reality; prison is not the place to be. I’m glad I have learned humility, and I work hard to stay teachable. We all must.

The reason I want to claim my mistakes, atone for them, and voice them to the Baltimore area is because you have given me strength and desire to keep trying no matter what obstacles are ahead. Baltimore was always more than a home while I was in Perry Hall. The glory of our championship era, when I was in the prime of my life, on the most talented pitching staff in baseball, my children being taken care of by Johns Hopkins, being introduced to food and culture while surrounded by friends and family; all of that I turned loose with my reckless actions, not them letting me down. That runs deeply inside my veins, burning and scarring.

I always feel the pain of loss when I enter into memories and recollections of my team and teammates that I spent 11 years with that were all thrilling and full of magic. We had the most wonderful pitching crew in baseball that was “stingy” in multiple, 90-plus winning seasons. Mike Flanagan once said we were “more than nasty.”

You see, everyone wants to come of age and everyone wants to be real. I don’t want any more or less. I would like to say I’m sincerely sorry for hurting anyone in any way. Sometimes we aren’t given a chance to tell people that we care; I’m glad, fortunate, that you are a part of my life. So many opportunities vanish.

I will never again get the opportunity to tell Mike Flanagan thanks for helping me through my troubled mission. Never again will I hear his New Hampshire accent and quick wit except in memories. I still see him as he was, sweat-covered, during his Cy Young season of 1979 when he led us to my first World Series. Good memories.

Flanny was a leader who was looked up to and “cooler than a fan on a hot day.” I often simply sat next to him while we were right beside each other in the Orioles’ locker room. I smile at his pranks. He once nailed my shower shoes to the floor. He switched pictures of me with ones of him. He cut the pants legs off my dress pants in Texas; and we laughed in good times and shared seriously about my son’s (cystic fibrosis) and the very serious possibilities of “test tube” babies.

I wanted more of him and am now left with life’s regrets, changes and vast amounts of unfairness. I can yet reminisce about Flanny, Mark (Belanger), Cal (Ripken) Sr., Ellie (Hendricks), Pat (Kelly), and Todd (Cruz) and hopefully not many more that I missed paying respects to as they head to Memorial Heights Stadium. I was friends to all of them and I must keep “Rolling in the Deep,” as sung by Adele, until I surface.

Thank you guys for all the good times and wonderful memories. I am a richer man for them. Hopefully, when I get out of prison on the 10th of January, 2013, there will be a 30th anniversary reunion for the ’83 champs of this world; I will be there with clear and focused – and potentially dampening – eyes.

Your friend,

Sammy Stewart

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (70)
        

Comments

No thanks.

Great article, great letter... Thanks for being a real man Sammy and admitting to your lifes curve ball you are a better man for it today, Rest Easy Flanny

Wait a minute--Todd Cruz and Pat Kelly died?! I don't remember seeing anything about these men. And I pride myself on keeping track of dead people. What were the circumstances?

Good luck Sammy, lets hope that reunion is also a celebration of a new Orioles golden age.

More proof that Mike Flanagan was too good a person to be working for and be successful with an owner like Peter Angelos.
As for Sammy Stewart, it is his actions, not his words, that will define his life starting Jan 10, 2013. Mike Flanagan's legacy as an Orioles and person are clear. I wish Sammy Stewart the best, but only he can direct his future. Mike Flanagan would certainly be a good role model to emulate.

Wasn't Stewart ambidextrious?

I remember listening to Palmer talk one of his stories and was saying that Stewart could pitch with both hands, but Earl Weaver wouldn't let him do it in a game.

Anyway, hopefully he turns it around. I wouldn't write to him though.

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He is. Palmer loves telling that story, a good one (as most of Jim's are).

Mr. Stewart,

I have not been privileged to have been on top of the world as have you, and I have also not managed to have fallen so far down as have you. If I do fall down, I hope I can conduct myself with the gratitude and humility you have shown us in your letter. Take care,

M J R

Just get better Sammy

I can remember Sammy and his funny ways.He was a great part of those teams.I hope he gets his life back in order again.He needs to know when people reach out to help next time,if he's still a con man it will be the last time anyone reaches out to help.Good luck Sammy.

Dennis is an idiot - Stewart isn't an angel and may fall back because that is addiction but he is truly remorseful and should be given his chance to redeem himself - Dennis has to be one of these right wing all or nothing wackoes - I enjoyed watching Stewart help the O's

Sammy Stewart's life illustrates how drugs beat everyone no matter how talented, wealthy, handsome and tough athletic competitors.
I'll always remember Sammy as a really good baseball player and a very valuable player for the Orioles.
I wish him the best and hope he thrives when he gets out of prison.

I will send a letter to Sammy. This is someone reaching out, looking for forgiveness. It appears that he has learned from his past. People all make mistakes. It is hard to admit them to one self and even harder to do so in such a public way. Perhaps if Flanny could have realized how important his help had been to Sammy and all the others he touched, things might have been different.
"Proof is in the Puddin'" my Grandfather always said.

classy there, dennis

Nice gesture by Sammy Stewart, but it's kinda lame that he's really vibing off "Rolling in the Deep," right?

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I dunno man. I'm a music lover and a pop-music fan hater usually and I kind of dig that song and that most recent Adele CD. It's on the magic iPod. Along with about 1,000 other albums. Just saying.

Thank you for all that you were to City of Baltimore Sammy. I pray that your life is restored to it's original course. Unfortunately, Peter Angelos has no interest in preserving team history unless it makes him money. We're kinda hoping that Buck Showalter will help us restore the "Oriole Way" and rekindle the love affair between the fans and the Orioles. Hopefully Buck will become successful at convincing the dollar-driven owner of the importance of preserving the team's history and reminding us that fans and players should be like family. We support and back each other up til the end.

As I read, we can try and blame the demise of Mike Flanagan on Angelos, that I can stomach, but suggesting someone who committed suicide is a good role model, leaves me scratching my head?

I can remember over 30 years ago, going to the ballpark with my Dad, my brother and a family friend to see Jim Palmer face off against Nolan Ryan. We were all psyched for this matchup, but were disappointed when we got to Memorial Stadium to learn that Palmer was scratched, his trapezius muscle or something (never mind Johns Hopkins, just follow Jim Palmer around, you can learn more about human anatomy than you can in med school!). Sammy Stewart was to start in his stead. Well, Sammy didn't disappoint. I don't think he struck out 7 Angels in a row that night, but he struck out quite a few and matched Ryan pitch for pitch...and as was usually the case with the Orioles for some unknown reason, we beat Ryan. I'll always remember that game and what a fantastic pitcher Sammy was, a manager's dream, as he could start, relieve, close, do it all, throw strikes and get men out and what more do you want from a pitcher?

Wow, what a story. I went to Perry Hall Elementary with Colin, and was heartbroken to read that he passed. He was in one of my classes. I believe the family was only at Perry Hall Elem for a year.

Sammy has no reason to apologize. Life is full of mistakes, it's what you do to better yourself afterwards that matters!

Each of us suffers rom our mistakes in life. Stupid decisions, lost opportunities and often, monumental regrets.

Learning from these mistakes provides the best hope that they will never be repeated.

Good luck to you Sam Stewart. And thanks for so many fond Oriole memories.

So glad to get such a warm and affectionate letter from Sammy to fans. Not many people would do that.

One step at a time, Sammy. There are a ton of fans --- many of whom have posted here --- who wish nothing but the best to any man or woman who intends to turn things around. I have heard too many stories of people who contributed a lot to society after doing horrible things to friends and family.

And I also have a soft spot in my heart for parents of kids with critical illnesses. If you have never walked in those shoes, you have no idea what they go through. You can ask my daughter and son-in-law.

Sammy has already been judged fairly by the judicial system. Message to anyone who "piles on" --- hope your family and extended family is pure and spotless for the remainder of YOUR life. But I don't think that anyone's is. Just sayin'.

I wish Sammy well. He sounds serious about righting his ship.

Scott, It's the way Flanny lived his life that made him a role model, not how he died. Listen to those who knew him best. His is a lasting legacy.

I remember when Stewart was a rookie in 1979, and they had a segment for a game that he pitched on "THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL." It was a game in which Stewart defeated Nolan Ryan and the Angels. There was a huge crowd for that game.

God bless you, Sammy. Hope we all get to see you soon.

Excellent stuff , Dan. REAL and a great tribute.
I remember the seven strikeouts. I think it was on the radio for me.

Btw, Adele may be "popular" but far from pop. One of the very talented British soul singers emulating AMY and JOSS. very nice

What a nice letter. Sammy is very well-spoken and seems as if he's sincerely sorry for the choices he made. I believe in second chances, unlike Dennis, above, and I plan to write to Sammy to tell him that I am praying for him and to thank him for all the wonderful memories he was a part of during the glory days of my favorite baseball team.

Robin:

Yes, both Pat Kelly and Todd Cruz have passed away. The Sun covered both stories:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bal-te.sp.hendricks22dec22,0,6246729.story

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bal-sp.cruz05sep05,0,2198498.story

--

Here is the Kelly obit: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bal-md.ob.kelly04oct04,0,5381097.story

jailhouse religion

All these comments directed at Sammy. Are we assuming that he has internet access at his prison? Just a thought...

--

He has a connection that will help him see this stuff. Assuming he wants to (and I would think he would). I've been told it is being printed out for him.

I remember Pat Kelly's passing some years ago, but until I read it here, I did not know about Todd Cruz. According to the world's greatest website, no offense to the Sunpapers or any others, baseball-reference.com, Todd passed away 2 September, 2008 at the age of 52.

How many of you remember the game he pitched? In 1984, he threw an inning in Yankee Stadium, going three up, three down. Scott Bradley, Mike Pagliarulo, and Omar "The Out Maker" Moreno were the victims. Man, could Cruz throw the ball! But alas, he didn't get a K.

Stewart was another Oriole from that time period whose career ended too soon. He was done as an Oriole by the time he was 31, he had one more year for the Indians and was gone at the age of 32. I also remember the Great Chuck Thompson referring to him as "Sam", not the usual "Sammy". Just the way Chuck went about his business.

I join all those in wishing Sammy Stewart the best of luck in recapturing his life.

Ken: How many of you remember the game he pitched?
What game are you questioning? I was at the September 1, 1978 game which Sammy made his starting debut against the White Sox. I sat in the upper deck on the 3rd base side of Memorial Stadium. Still have the original ticket and scorebook. Baseball Almanac.com provided me with a scorebox of the game.

He is incarcerated a few hours from me here in NC.

Would anyone think I'm weird to try and visit him to get his autograph on the baseball cards I have of him?

Sammy Stewart's letter is great for two reasons. One, he has taken responsibility for his actions and is trying to atone for them. Two, he points out from his perspective what many of us take for granted.

I doubt Dennis in WV ever met Sammy Stewart, so I doubt he was ever directly affected by any of Stewart's actions. Therefore, his unforgiving nature is whacko in my opinion as well. However, the left-wing whacko's are just as much all-or-nothing. If one can't see that, perhaps we know another person's category.

Mike Flanagan had inner demons, too. Perhaps committing suicide can be viewed as being selfish from the outside, but those who contemplate it, attempt it, or actually do it aren't necessarily lashing out against anyone. They are simply in a place mentally like those who jumped from the twin towers on 9/11/2001 physically. They can be pitied, but they shouldn't be scorned. And, yes, what they did prior to their unfortunate conclusion can very well be role model worthy.

Now, blaming Angelos for Flanagan's decision is totally rude and inappropriate no matter how bad of an employer he might have been. And, I do say "might" because I have not worked for him. His record as an Oriole owner notwithstanding, I know people who think quite highly of Angelos. Furthermore, a lot of people have unfulfilled dreams, or have felt slighted by what they did, didn't do or couldn't do, and many have lost jobs or been demoted accordingly. How those people reacted to such circumstances are as varied as the possibilities.

We can pity Flanagan, but he should not be discounted.

We can pity, Stewart, but he should not be discounted.

Sammy is still alive. If there was some way I could help him, I would. He has my 100% support.

Just a word about the ambidextrous story Palmer told. I am sure he told this more than once, but the version I heard was: Once when Stewart was on the mound the opposing team sent up a left handed pinch hitter. Stewart switched his glove to his right hand and was about to pitch to the guy left handed, but Weaver jumped out of the dugout and told him not to do it.

I thought Sammy actually tried to switch from pitching right to left during a game...and the umpire stopped him. Am I wrong?

It's interesting to read people's reactions to the two people linked in this story, Steward and Flannigan. Not just because they pitched together. But because they each faced a condition -- drug addition and mental illness -- that so many refuse to see as a medical issue.

Some are sympathetic. Some have no sympathy at all for the behaviors that these men were driven to by their conditions. It's really interesting to see the level of intolerance certain people have for those who fall into these categories -- perhaps only rivaled by skin color and sexual preference when it come to unacceptance.

I also intend to write Sammy a letter. Addiction is a tough thing to deal with and I sincerely hope he is on the right path, now. Good luck to you Sammy.

Sammy....
You didn't let everyone down. You had a Big Heart.Not just because I was one of the Orioles team photogs. I remember the time my car broke down on 33rd right near Lake Montabello. You stopped to help and offer to take me home to Bel Air.
If you think you're the only one that had demons....you're wrong. I for years struggled w/ mine. Substance and how to treat people. You will always be considered a friend. I am here if you need me brother!
It's tough going it alone. TOGETHER...WE can beat anything!
k

If his sentiments are truly genuine I commend him for taking responsibility for his life decisions. I hope he gains some measure of normalcy in his life and is able to avoid further legal problems.

A sad story from an era when the Orioles organization was a respected and feared professional sports franchise. When I traveled in those days people around the country used to marvel at how good the Orioles had been for so long. In that respect, Sammy, you had an experience that cannot be taken away from you by prison walls.

Sammy, you will get another chance. I hope when you get out the Orioles can find a place for you in the organization to coach up young pitchers.

Maxmorf, thanks to baseball-reference.com, you can see the boxscore to the game you remember here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL197907210.shtml

The Orioles won the game, 10-2 - Sammy got the win, pitching 8 strong innings while Ryan lasted only 4. The O's raised their record to 62-32.

To Sammy: More positive thoughts in your direction. It's never too late to make a change. Best of luck to you.

I am Sammy's older sister, Linda, and I want to thank everyone for their kind words. I have been in contact with my brother throughout his years in prison and I am so happy to say that I have my brother back. He is a changed man and he is very regretful for any pain or hurt he caused anyone. Once the drugs took over, we lost Sammy but now with a clear head and lots of time to think, he's back to the brother I always knew and loved. I have visited him several times and since I don't live in Asheville, each visit has been such a pleasure. He's clear eyed, those beautiful blue eyes, and he looks you straight in the eyes when he's talking to you and he's very sincere in what he says, he pauses before he speaks to make sure he's going to say the right thing so I can tell you that my brother is a changed man. Thank God!!!!! He has taken several classes in prison to better himself and to help his children when he gets out of prison. My brother came from nothing but a simple family and made it to the top and I'm not making excuses for him but once he started on the drugs, they took his life over completely. Yes he had a choice and he chose the wrong one and he realizes the drugs ruined his career, he lost his family and most important he lost himself. He has worked hard over the last few years learning about the reasons he did what he did and now that he understands why, he is working his way back to being a stand-up man. I love my brother dearly and wish him only the best and I hope and pray that when he gets out of prison he can move forward with his life and he wants to help other people, especially children, in any way he can. People can relate to Sammy and I believe he can do some good for himself and other people. He's a good man with a big heart and just needs another chance. We all have our demons and we all have to fight with them each and every day. This is the way most poeple live in today's world so all I'm asking is that you pray for my brother and wish him the best when he gets out of prison. Someone said that when Sammy gets out of prison his actions will prove to people if he has really changed and that person is right and my brother realizes this; he doesn't expect anymore from anyone.

Sammy does not have internet access at the prison.

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Linda, thanks for the post. Great to hear your perspective. To the readers out there, I have been assured that all of these will be printed out for him and given/read to him. As for those sending him letters, he cannot sign autographs or baseball cards or receive visits from those people who have not been approved, I've been told. But the letters -- without memorabilia -- should be OK.

Well said, Linda! Adding to that, Sammy will receive these comments in printed form and I know they will mean the world to him. Writing this letter was very healing for him, and your positive responses will be a bonus. To the person with the ticket stub, Sammy can't receive random visitors and BCC frowns on fan mail asking for autographs. Hold on until January 2013 and I'm sure he will sign that for you! Thanks for all the kind words - Sammy deserves that second chance and your belief in him is inspiring.

@Jim--thanks for the links. I looked them up on Wikipedia after I made that post. I guess I was out to lunch both those days.

Anyway, it's unfortunate that bad things happen to good people, but as we know from this time of year, redemption is always possible. I was not an O's fan at the time Sammy was at the top of his game, but that doesn't mean I can't wish him well in him trying to right his ship.

Thanks Barbara for the information about Cruz and Kelly. What a shame

CNC Orioles Fan: Ken was talking about the time Todd pitched.

Sammy, I wish you well with your second chance on life. Make the best of it.

Sammy,

Pray to God everyday for the strength to battle your addiction, it is a daily struggle. You sound like you're on the right path and only with God's help will you achieve success. God loves all of us, no matter what our obstacles may be. He has a plan for you, you just have to pray to Him and ask Him to reveal that plan to you. God loves us always, even when we "slip". When you're released in 2013, make sure you have some NA meetings lined up to help keep you on the straight and narrow. God, family and NA meetings will keep you where you need to be.

He will only stay sober if he gets in
Alcoholics Anonymous and works the 12 steps.

Great memories of Sammy Stewart.... I also remember the Orioles support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation during his tenure with the Orioles. I have a child with special needs, and I cannot imagine having two children with a disease that often results in a shorter life -- as he experienced with his son Colin. Some people have different ways to deal with adversity. Everyone deserves a chance of redemption -- so glad that Stewart is on that path. BTW, an earlier poster mentioned that he pitched one season for the Cleveland Indians after his last season with the Orioles. He was on the Red Sox team in 1986 that went to the World Series.

I remember reading a story about Stewart and his time in Boston. Stewart was visiting his sick child in the hospital and was late arriving to the team bus, which left without him. Evidently, John Mcnamara held some sort of grudge towards Stewart, which also explains why he never pitched in the '86 world series. I don't know the whole story or why there was this "grudge", but Boston could've been a better team during that WS if Mcnamara wouldn't have made him sit it out.

Thank you, Sammy, for providing me with some of the best memories I have of watching the O's as a kid. Best wishes to you and yours for a happy and healthy future. Stay straight, brother.

I was a crack addict at one point up to $300 a day habit. I lied, stole, and cheated everyone and myself. I finally got tired of hurting everyone I cared about. That is how I got finished with it. I paid back the $26,000 I stole from people, over a five year period when I quit. I enjoy my freedom from drugs, and am glad I never had to go to prison. I was very fortunate to wake up. I admire Josh Hamilton. I met him when he was 18 at a Shorebirds game with his parents (greatest swing I ever saw in person). I remember Sammy from the great late 70's and early 80's teams. I wish him the best of luck and the true desire to never pick it up again. Once you start you can't stop, I know that and Sammy I hope you know that too. Keep on the correct path and remember you are the least of the people you have hurt. Some relationships will never be fixed. I feel alienated to most of my family to this day, and I have been clean for six years. I don't go to meetings, I just remember the pain. The pain is what keeps you going, after a while it is all you have left.

Sammy, one fine day the O's will ask you back to the park to throw out the first pitch or just be introduced. I hope I'm there to stand and clap like crazy. You're going to make it and you're well on your way - I just know it. Let your love and faith see you through. God Bless...

Good to hear from Sammy and glad he's headed in the right direction.

I just remembered Flanny's brilliant nickname for Sammy. There was a popular football quarterback from Samoa in the 70s (Jack Thompson, first round pick of Bengals in 1979) who was nicknamed "The Throwin' Samoan". Since Sammy is from Swannanoa, NC, he became....

"The Throwin' Swannanoan"

I probably saw Sammy pitch back in the day in Baltimore. I liked him and most of the O's at the time. I would like to point out to most of you people the prevalence of Cocaine in sports in the late 70's and early 80's. I think a lot of you would be surprised about how many players on the O's and other teams partook in the day. Some of you may not be surprised about some the O's drug use. Sammy was not the only one, so do not be naive!!!
I hope for the best for Sammy!

Sammy was always one of my favorite Orioles. How we would love to have a pitcher like him today on the team. No one is perfect. Best wishes.

sammy had 2 strikes on a batter late in a game. ninth inning. he turned his glove around and went to throw left handed. the umpire jumped out and stopped him but the stadium was full of laughter at that point

Sammy:

My name is Steve Sandler. I was on Pat Santarone's groundcrew from 78-86, and remember you well. What I remember best is that you always had a big smile on your face and looked like there was no place in the world that you would rather be. What I also remember is that you were one of the guys on those late-70s, early-80s teams that would shoot the breeze with the groundcrew guys from time to time before the game, and when you were in the bullpen. You engaged the fans frequently, and never showed a hint of ego or arrogance that I could see.

And of course I remember that you were a hell of a pitcher. I remember the 7 consecutive strikeout debut. You had nasty, nasty stuff...and a career a lot of guys could only dream about.

I am glad you have been able to right the ship in your own life, and wish you the best upon your release in 2013. You still have a lot of living left to do, and I am sure you have plenty to contribute. Thank you for all of the great memories, and I wish you nothing but the best going forward.

Steve

Once a con man, always a con man

Wow, all I did was write "No thanks" to the invite to correspond with Sammy Stewart in prison and several of you took it personal. Too bad. Now I need to respond.

@geoff - Anytime someone takes to insulting others without knowing them it is generally an insight into the insulting individual's insecurities at the perspective of not winning an argument.

@KenC - I suggest you enrich your knowledge by googling "inmate scams" before you assume the position of determining who is classy and who is not for choosing not to write an inmate, regardless of who it is.

@waspman - Yes, I have met Sammy Stewart. When he came up I had 3rd base front row seats at Memorial Stadium and all relievers walked by and stopped and talked to us.

You referred to me as "whacko." I find it interesting that you insult me even though I made no negative statements to Stewart. other than to decline his personal invite to correspond. If anyone is over the top, sir, it would be you.

That was quite a piece that you wrote, virtually encouraging others to forgive Stewart - and need I remind you that our youth reads these blogs, and may be encouraged by your conviction to correspond with Stewart without their parents knowledge.

Well, waspman, I also know some prison guards in Maryland who could tell you stories about inmate scams that begin with letters. Perhaps you should also google "inmate scams."

Quite frankly, I am a bit surprised that Dan Connolly would include Stewart's address without considering the young Orioles' fans out there who read this blog.

Clearly not a decision I agree with.

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Dennis: I considered it. I also considered removing the rips on you for saying, "no thanks." Ultimately, I try to keep this an open forum, as best as I can. And I was asked to pass on the address, not encourage that people write. And after some thought, I decided that people have to use their best discretion. That goes for adults in their own decisions and adults monitoring what their children do. I think this is the ultimate example of "the messenger." But if something goes awry, sure, you can blame me if you like. We still like to hear your well-researched opinions.

Keep your head up, Sammy.

Ray Miller stopped Sammy Stewart from pitching to Dave Revering lefthanded..Sammy had been practicing throwing lefty and in the midst of a five game series vs the Yanks, the O's would win all five, Sammy switched the glove to his right hand and was going to pitch lefty.Ray ran to the mound and said that would show up the Yanks..class move by Ray..

I am a correctional officer (as opposed to a prison guard...the prison itself is very well behaved and is hard to steal. It does not need guarding). I supervised Stewart before he got promoted to minimum custody and moved to his current location. I can tell you from personal interaction with him that, in my opinion, he won't be back when he finishes his current sentence.
Stewart was not a troublemaker, always had a good attitude, did anything directed to do and seemed to have his head on straight.
I've done this job long enough to make a fairly accurate assessment of whether I'll be seeing someone again. He doesn't seem to fall into that category.
Not all inmates are going to contribute to the high rate of recidivism our fine country enjoys. I think any generalizations about inmates are as unfair as generalizations based on race, religion, age etc.
GO ORIOLES!

Dennis, thanks for the more in-depth explanation. Yes, there are inmate scams, but coming from someone that knows him and has followed his journey quite closely, this is no scam. This is a person that had the world in his right hand, lost everything, and has worked hard to climb back. I understand your concern about children writing to an inmate without parental knowledge, but keep in mind that anyone even remembering him would be well over 30 years old by now. I apologize for the comments (not mine) criticizing you without knowing you. All I ask is for people to not criticize or condemn Sammy without knowing him.

Does anyone feel that Sammy let them down? I don't. He's a human being who made some bad decisions and is paying for them. I am so glad to read all the positive comments here; when you give someone a second chance, you're opening your heart. Sammy didn't have to write this letter at all. He could have served out his time and been released and none of us would ever have been the wiser. I can't see that he's getting anything out of apologizing for his actions other than doing his best to make things right with those he feels he disappointed. In my eyes, that is the mark of a wonderful human being who is finally trying to do the right thing.

We forgive you Sammy. Nobody's perfect. Please realize that you are a victim due to your addiction. It's not your fault. We all make mistakes. Know that you're not alone in this. Addiction is a battle that never really ends, and judging by this letter, you're strong enough to overcome it.

Sammy Stewart is a good person. My association with him was not during his hey day with the O's but rather in the darker days of his continual struggle with drug addiction. Sammy returned to his home not as a champion but as a person defeated by an unworthy opponent. Taking Sammy to jail was never a pleasant task. I knew of his successes and his potential. Each time I always thought that maybe this would be the last. But it wasn't. Now, after reading his letter, I'm hoping that somehow he has found the strength to become a champion again. Perhaps he will read these comments and realize the impact he has had on so many people. Maybe he will embrace the gratitude for good memories and the encouragement to do good. Jan. 10, 2013 can be the beginning of a new championship era. It's all up to him to record another save.

Sammy, you and my son Jamie Harmon Jr. were incarcirated at Craggy Prison in Buncombe co. N.C. a few years ago. You were so gracious as to autograph two paper napkins for Jamie's sons, then age 3 and 4. You and Jamie were there for basically the same reasons, drugs! Jamie is now 43 and serving 25 years over in Tn. I know the hellish addictions and heartaches that accompany such cravings. Jamie got into drugs when he was only 11, so this family has been in this so called "War on drugs" for many years. There are no magic wands to help all you tortured souls but I believe the Lord will help if you guys will really, really jump up in the Lords arms.
We love and respect you Sammy Stewart. The entire Harmon family

A premature "welcome back, Sammy". I find it abrasive that some self righteous posters have no heart. I remind them to ask what would Jesus do? My prayers for your continued growth and recovery, Mr. Stewart.

Sammy,

My prayers are with you. Addiction is a cruel demon to have to face. I hope that you see the love from the people here, and that it keeps you on the road to recovery.

Your words about Mr. Flanagan prove that he truly was too good for words. I, for one, look forward to seeing you at the '83 Championship team reunion. Thank you for helping bring it here.

Some of the lame hurtful comments left by IDIOTS on here are pretty sad. There's an old and truthful saying: "there by the grace of God, go I." What happened to Sammy Stewart can EASILY happen to you or someone you love. Hopefully Sammy's letter touched a tiny spot in your hard hearts and maybe in the future you can show some compassion for others and pray to God that you're never put in the same situations as Sammy got himself in to. Hang in there Sammy Stewart; get well and keep prayers in your heart. We look forward to welcoming you back to Baltimore and to Camden Yards in 2013.

Sammy, thanks for some great memories. And God bless you and your continuing recovery.

Having worked with my share of suicidal and drug/substance addicted people in my career, I can tell anyone who thinks that it can't happen to them or someone they love, that few families escape such tragedies. For your sake, I hope yours is one.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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