Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 6, 2012

Random Thoughts: Stewart was the essence of grace

By Dorothy Copus Brush
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — This year’s World Series was disappointing to me because I rooted first for Cincinnati and then Detroit. However it did bring a memory of the 1933 World Series which had fans in Crossville holding their breath. That Great Depression year, Walter “Buck” Stewart, a young man from here, was playing in the big leagues.

Stewart was born September 23, 1900 in tiny Yankeetown, six miles from Sparta. A baseball was never far from his hand as a kid. When he lost a finger on his right hand he learned to throw southpaw but batted right hand. At age 18 he turned pro and went with the Florida State League in 1919.

Every year after that he was with a different team until 1923 when he spent three seasons with Toronto and in 1926 was sold to the St. Louis Browns. The Chronicle noted on March 3, 1932 — Walter Stewart, ace of the St. Louis Brown’s pitching staff, is a serious hold-out. There are rumors that the Athletics and Senators each want a “Brown” player but Walter’s name has not been mentioned as being for sale.

March 17, 1932 — Walter “Bucky” Stewart signed a contract to play again with the Browns. He leaves at once for training quarters in Florida.

December 22, 1932 — Walter “Buck” Stewart has been traded to the Washington Senators. Tributes, that are shared by local fans, have been paid the said Stewart by all the press of the country when they stated that he was one of the best south-paws in baseball.

In April 1933, the Chronicle noted that Buck Stewart was making a big hit with Washington baseball fans and reprinted a story from the Washington News on his performance in the final exhibition game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Senators. It stated that only a few in the stands at that time recognized that the “tall, lanky, bronzed Walter Stewart was one of the greatest pitchers of his time. He is a master at placing the ball wherever he wants it to go.”

The Senators won the American League pennant in 1933 and battled the National League New York Giants in five games. Crossville’s Stewart pitched in both the first and second games but was relieved in both. He did not win any series games but the Senators won the 1933 fall classic 4-1. That was the last year the Senators hosted the World Series.

Stewart had bought 100 acres of land about two miles from Crossville in 1932 and built a handsome Colonial residence. When he was released from the Cleveland Indians in January 1936, he received a number of offers but decided to retire.

Walter Stewart was Buck or Bucky the first part of his career but later he was known as Lefty. He played all or part of ten seasons in the major leagues between 1921 and 1936; Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and finally the Cleveland Indians

His family came home to Crossville and shortly after he became a businessman. He and W.E. Mayfield formed a partnership known as Ideal Furniture Company. In 1945 Mayfield sold his interest to Stewart and began a new business in partnership with his son.

Stewart spent the rest of his life in Crossville. After his death in September 1974 at age 74 he was buried in Green Acres Memory Garden.

The Chronicle had written words that described how Crossville felt about him in 1932 when he visited here while he was the Brown’s ace south paw. Those words were just as accurate after 38 years.

September 29, 1932 — His form is the essence of grace. Off the field or on he is the same old Walter; a gentleman of the South and a gentleman of his profession. Crossville is proud to number the modest Walter among its inhabitants.