Jan 22, 2021

Remebering Don Sutton (Pitcher 1966-1988)

 Donald Howard Sutton was born April 2nd 1945, in Cilo, Alabama. The tall six foot one right hander would pitch 24 for seasons, winning 324  games (324-256) making the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sutton came up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966. That year he went 12-12 on a legendary staff with Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale, as well as the lesser known Claude Osteen. 

The Dodgers got the Word Series but lost to the Baltimore Orioles. Sutton would spend 16 years with the Dodgers, winning three pennants with them & making four All Star teams. He was the starter in the 1977 All Star Game.

Sutton was a consistent pitcher who always put up
wins. He had double figures in victories, eleven or more wins every year for 21 seasons, all but two seasons, including his last. 

Sutton won twenty games, just once in his long career, but did win 15 or more games a dozen times. 

He would win 15 or more games for eight straight
seasons. He won 19 games twice (1972 & again in 1974). Sutton would have 200 or more strike outs in five of his first eight seasons but never top that mark again. He is 7th all time with 3574 Ks.

Although he never threw a no hitter, Don Sutton tossed five one hitters, ten two hitters & 58 shut outs (10th all time) making 756 starts (3rd all time).

In 1974 he went 19-9 with a 3.23 ERA leading the NL with 40 starts. That year he was second on a staff led by Andy Messersmith (20-6) that took the Dodgers to the World Series. 

1974 Post Season: In the NLCS he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates twice, allowing just one earned run & seven hits, in 17 innings of work. 

In Game #1 he tossed a 3-0 complete game shut out & then eased to another win in Game #4 where the Dodgers clinched the series in a 12-1 blow out. 

In the World Series he earned the victory in the only game the Dodgers won against the Oakland A's. Sutton beat Vida Blue 3-2 in that game in Los Angeles.

In 1976 he won 21 games, the only year he topped twenty victories. He was 21-10 with a 3.06 ERA. Sutton would finish in the top ten in ERA eight times, including a second place finish to rival Tom Seaver in 1973.

In 1977 he went 14-8, tied for third most wins on another good Dodger staff led by twenty game
winner, Tommy John. That year he pitched in his second World Series. 

1977 Post Season: In the 1977 he NLCS he beat the Phillies in Game #2 with a complete game allowing just one earned run. In the 1977 World Series he took a loss in the Game #1 opener but came back to win Game #6 in L.A. 

He came back to win 15 games (15-11) the next year, as the Dodgers repeated, winning a second straight NL pennant. That year he made a comment that Reggie Smith was the teams best player. 

The face of the franchise, Steve Garvey confronted him about it before a game against the Mets & the two came to blows in a highly publicized media event. 

In the 1978 post season, he wasn't as successful taking a loss in the NLCS & two losses in the World Series.

He left Los Angeles for free agency & signed with the Houston Astros. The next year he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for prospects including Kevin Bass. Ray Knight was most outspoken & disappointed with the trade, thinking Houston should have gotten more.

1982 Post Season: He earned a win the ALCS Game #3, after the Brewers were down 2-0 in the series. As the Brew Crew went on to the World Series, Sutton started two games, taking a loss in Game #6 & no decision back in Game #2.

After a down year in 1983 he came back to win 14 games in 1984. He was traded to the Oakland A's but wanted to be in Southern California nearer to his family. 

He eventually got traded to the California Angels, where he won his career 300th game. In 1986, he put up 15 wins (15-11) with a 3.74 ERA for the Angels at age, 41.

Sutton made his final post season appearance in 1986 with the Angels. He started Game#4, earning no decision in the Angels win over Boston & made a relief appearance in the final Game #7.

He closed out his career with the Dodgers in 1988.


After Baseball: Sutton was a longtime broadcaster, starting with work during the postseason for NBC while still a player. He then worked for the Dodgers, Braves & Nationals.

Honors: He is a  member of the Hall of Fame & had his number retired by the Los Angles Dodgers. The Braves put him in their Hall of Fame as a broadcaster as well. A section of highway from Alabama to Pensacola is named the Don Sutton Highway.

Passing: Sutton passed away after a battle with cancer on January 18th 2021, at age 75.

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