The three Stenhouse families live within three miles of one another these days in their original home of Cranston, R.I. They are reunited after a decades-long baseball odyssey that saw dad pitch in the big leagues, one son reach the majors and the other son’s career stall at Triple-A.
The Stenhouses remain today the first family of Rhode Island baseball.
“Baseball has been pretty good to us,” Mike said. “We’ve enjoyed it. It’s been in our blood.”
The Stenhouse trio graced the cover of Baseball America in December 1981. At the time, Dave Sr. was a first-year head coach at Brown University, son Mike was on his way to the big leagues while playing outfield for Double-A Memphis in the Montreal Expos organization and Dave Jr. was a standout catcher at Holy Cross.
All three kept their hand in baseball in some manner after leaving the game. Today, at age 84, Dave Sr. is retired from The Insurance Center, the insurance and financial management business he started after retiring. Mike, 59, is the CEO of conservative think tank The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Poverty. Dave Jr., 56, bought into his father’s insurance business and remains one of its partners.
Mike probably speaks for the entire Stenhouse family in saying there was a competitive carryover from baseball to business in the way each learned to overcome failure.
“It’s an uphill battle in both,” Mike said. “I attribute the conservative nature of baseball—which is individuals performing, individual failure and loss—but you get back up and get back at it on a level playing field … to probably producing my very strong, conservative political philosophy.”
Dave Sr. signed a free agent contract with the Cubs in 1955. He agreed to a $4,000 bonus after he had starred for three years in baseball and basketball at the University of Rhode Island.
Stenhouse joined the Washington organization after the 1961 season and made his big league debut with the Senators the next year. From 1962-64 he logged 372 innings and went 16-28 with a 4.14 ERA.
As a 28-year-old rookie in 1962, Stenhouse earned the starting assignment for the American League in the second of two All-Star Games played that year. He had gone 10-4, 2.73 up to that point in the season.
Mike was much heralded coming out of Harvard in 1979, and the Athletics selected him 26th overall that year. But when penny-pinching Oakland owner Charlie Finley offered him $12,000 to sign, Mike refused. The Expos selected him in the first round of January’s secondary phase in 1980, and he signed for $32,000.
In seven minor league seasons, Stenhouse put up impressive numbers. He hit as many as 25 home runs in a season at the Triple-A level and twice drew more than 100 walks. That performance never translated to the big leagues, however.
After retirement, Mike did some TV and radio analyst work with Montreal and with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Dave Jr. was selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1982 draft. A six-year minor league career was short-circuited by a leg injury. Today he co-operates the Rhode Island Baseball Institute.
The baseball academy for players age 8 to 18 has helped extend the Stenhouse family legacy by counting among its graduates big leaguers Chris Iannetta and Jeff Beliveau.