As a first baseman, Mike Napoli has become a hippie among the flat-footed soldiers of the game.
With his hip deteriorating and his catching days behind him, Napoli has taken to first base for the Red Sox like a duck to water. His form, style, and bat swing present a swagger we have not seen since the glorious days of Dr. Strangeglove.
Yes, the impervious Old Stonefingers of Yore seems to have been reincarnated for another go-round with the Red Sox.
Dick Stuart, reviled in legend, has long since passed into the field of dreams and its cornfield, but now a new generation of baseball fans may be experiencing the same style that enthralled Grandpop with bat pop.
Waving away a pitcher from running to first on the rare ground ball was a Stuart hallmark. And, now, as the pitcher busts his nut to run to first base on a grounder to cover for the first baseman, Napoli flicks them away with a movement of his glove.
Like Stuart, Napoli patrols first base with all the interest of a man who likes to hit home runs and increase his RBI stats. In a recent display, Napoli clobbered his first Red Sox grand slam. Of course, Stuart did it with an inside the park stroke.
However, Napoli is no slouch in the Dick Stuart mode.
For two glorious seasons, Dick Stuart's stroke sent balls over the Green Monster-and now Napoli sends them into the Monster seats. We feel a twinge of nostalgia for Stuart who hit over 70 home runs during his brief tenure in Boston in 1962 and 1963.
We hope that Mike Napoli can give fewer whiffs and more pops than grandpop remembers.