A BRIEF, SPECTACULAR CAREER

Fifty-five years ago this month, on May 6, 1962, the Washington Senators were playing the New York Yankees in a double header at Yankee Stadium. Dave Stenhouse, a 28 year old, rookie, right hander, from Westerly, Rhode Island, was the Senators starting pitcher in Game 1 of the doubleheader. The Yankees had won the last two World Series and already looked like they were headed for their third in a row.

If facing the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, in his first starting appearance in the Big Leagues after only four relief appearances, with a total of 5 2/3 Major League innings under his belt, wasn’t enough, Stenhouse was matched up against Yankee great Ralph Terry, who already had four wins in the young season. (Terry would go on to win 23 games that year and win the most Valuable Player Award in the Yankees third straight World Series win, this time in seven games over the San Francisco Giants.)

The Senators got a run off Terry in the top of the first when first baseman Dale Long doubled to drive in left fielder Joe Hicks and put the Senators up 1-0.

The first batter that Stenhouse faced for the Yankees in the last of the first was second baseman Bobby Richardson, winner of the Most Valuable Player Award in the 1960 World Series. Stenhouse got him on a pop out to Clete Boyer at third. He then walked shortstop Tom Tresh and had to face Roger Maris, who had broken Babe Ruth’s home run record the year before and had been the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the past two years. He got Maris to hit a grounder to second baseman Chuck Cottier who started a double play and Stenhouse’s first inning as a starter was over.

In the Yankee second, they sent up Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Johnny Blanchard. Stenhouse put them down in order getting Mantle to pop to second, Yogi to ground to first and Blanchard to pop to short. In the third, he struck out Joe Pepitone, got Clete Boyer on a grounder to short and struck out Terry.

In his first Major League start, the rookie had faced the minimum nine batters in the first three innings against one of the toughest lineups in baseball and was ahead 1-0. In the Yankee fourth, after getting Richardson to pop to third and striking out Tresh, Stenhouse gave up a double to Maris and a homer to Mantle, to fall behind 2-1, before getting Berra on strikes on a foul third strike bunt.

That was it for the Yankee offense as Stenhouse went seven innings, giving up just the two runs on three hits. The Senators scored three in the eighth, paced by a lead off homer by ex-Yankee Gene Woodling, pinch hitting for Stenhouse, to go ahead 4-2. Steve Hamilton replaced Stenhouse in the top of the eighth and got the last six Yankee batters in order to give Stenhouse his first Major League win.

On May 11, five days later, Stenhouse started against Baltimore and pitched a complete game six hitter giving up just one run as the Senators won 12-1. The Senators lost the next two games to the Orioles and went to Chicago where they lost the first game of a two game series against the White Sox to drop them to 6-21, still 10 1/2 games back.

Stenhouse started the second game against Chicago, pitched another complete game win, holding the White Sox to just one unearned run and four hits. In the past ten days, the Senators had won four and lost six and the rookie had won three of the games, giving up three runs on 13 hits in 25 innings for a 1.08 ERA in his first three Major League starts.

Stenhouse would win three and lose one in June, including a complete game, six hit, 1-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers on June 8. On July 12, still in last place, now 20 ½ games out, the Senators traveled to Minnesota to meet the Twins.

In Game 1 of the Twins series, Stenhouse started and pitched a 10 inning complete game. The score was tied after nine innings, 4-4. Stenhouse had given up home runs to Bob Allison, Earl Battey and Hammerin’ Harmon Killebrew to account for the four runs. In the top of the tenth, the Senators scored three times and Stenhouse shut the Twins down in the bottom of the tenth for his seventh win.

Five days later, on July 17, in Chicago, he pitched a three hit shutout against the White Sox to win his eighth game, 1-0. He held the White Sox hitless for 4 2/3 innings before giving up a double to catcher Cam Carreon in the fifth.

He faced the Yankees in Yankee Stadium again on July 22 and pitched another complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and winning 4-2, while striking out eight.

On July 27, he started against the Red Sox and Bill Monboquette at home. He pitched his fourth complete game in 15 days, giving up 13 hits but holding the Sox to two runs. In those four games, he gave up just 27 hits and eight runs in 37 innings for a 1.95 ERA and improving his record to 10 wins and four losses and earning the nod from Yankee Manager Ralph Houk, who was also the All Sar Game Manager, to start the All Star Game on July 30, three days later. He was the first rookie to start an All Star Game in history.

The All Star Game was played in Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fred Hutchinson, Manager of the Cincinnati Reds was the National League Manager. Before being traded to the Senators by the same Cincinnati Reds before the season, Stenhouse had won 39 and lost 37 with a 3.42 ERA in three years at AAA and had never gotten a chance at the Big Leagues. It must have been satisfying for him to start the All Star Game with Hutchinson in the opposing dugout.

Stenhouse started on the mound for the American League with Johnny Podres on the mound for the National. He pitched a scoreless first after he hit the first batter Dave Groat, got Roberto Clemente to fly out, gave up a single to Willie Mays and walked Orlando Cepeda to load the bases. He then got Tommy Davis to foul out and Ken Boyer lined to short to end the inning. In the second he got the first two outs but then gave up a double to, of all people, Podres and Groat drove him in with a single before he struck out Clemente to end the inning. He was removed after two innings and the American League went on to win the game 9-4.

Two days later, on August 1, he held the Yankee to two runs for 10 innings and went into the 11th tied 2-2. In the 10th, he gave up a double to Dale Long, a single to Elston Howard and a homer to Johnny Blanchard and lost 5-2.

It was his fifth start of nine or more innings in 21 days and it had to have taken its toll. From August 1 on, he won one game and lost eight to finish the season with an 11-12 record. From his first start on May 6 until August 2, he had pitched 136 innings and had eight complete games in 15 starts. After the stretch from July 12 through August 1, he made 11 starts and threw just one complete game, a 3-2 win over Baltimore on August 30.

In 1963, he made 16 starts, won three and lost nine and had a 4.55 ERA and, in 1964, he made 14 starts, won two and lost seven with a 4.81 ERA.

I spoke with Dave recently and he told me that, on July 5th of that year, the bone chips in his pitching arm that had bothered him since college caused him to go on the disabled list for the rest of the year. He had banged the elbow several times playing basketball as a starter at URI. That was the end of his Big League career. He pitched in AAA until 1967 when he retired at age 33.

Stenhouse was born on September 12, 1933 and was signed by the Chicago Cubs as an Amateur Free Agent in 1955 after playing for the University of Rhode Island. He spent four years in the Cubs farm system, where he was 17-9 with a 3.15 ERA between A and AA ball, before being acquired by the Reds after the 1958 season

Dave coached the Brown University team from 1981 to 1990. His son, Mike, played for the Expos, Twins and Red Sox as an outfielder from1982-1986 and another son, Dave, Jr., a catcher, played six years in the minors, including three years at the AAA level.

Dave Stenhouse paid his dues in the minor leagues before finally getting a chance at the Majors in 1962. If he were to show the promise he did then, in the current atmosphere, where pitchers are brought along gradually and their arms and futures are better taken care of and protected, there is no telling what he might have accomplished.

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