Bruce Sutter

Bruce Sutter

January 8, 1953
6' 2"
190 lbs
Major League Debut:
5-09-1976 with CHN
Allstar Selections:
1979 CY, 1979 RR, 1981 RR, 1982 BR, 1982 RR, 1984 RR
Hall of Fame:


As a 20-year old, Bruce Sutter had arm surgery which placed his pitching career in jeopardy. A few seasons later he learned a revolutionary new pitch: the split-finger fastball, and he rocketed to stardom. He led the National League in saves for four straight seasons, culminating in closing out Game Seven of the 1982 World Series for the Cardinals. An arm injury ended his career in 1988, with exactly 300 saves to his credit.

Unform Number

Sutter wore #42 for most of his career, but briefly donned #40 with the Braves, because teammate Rick Mahler refused to part with it.

Quotes About

"I don't think Johnny Carson got a lot of hate mail when he signed for $5 million. But Bruce Sutter probably did. Why? Well, Johnny's a lot funnier than Bruce. I mean, Bruce is a wonderful guy, but his Karnak is weak." — pitcher Steve Stone, after Sutter signed a multi-million dollar deal in 1980.

Quotes From

"If Fred Martin doesn't show me the splitter, I'm never make it to the Hall of Fame. No way. My other stuff [pitches] were just AA-ball quality."

Best Season 1977

In 62 games, Sutter averaged more than two innings per outing, posting a 1.34 ERA. He saved 31 games and surrendered just 69 hits in 107 1/3 IP. His 1984 season was also very, very good.


In one 39-day period in 1984, Bruce Sutter had more two-inning saves (nine) than Trevor Hoffman had in his entire career, and as many as Mariano Rivera had in his career.


The ability to control the split-fingered fastball. He threw it in such a way that it was almost unhittable.


Sutter had a below-average major league fastball. However, since his splitter was so good, he could often throw his fastball outside of the strike zone and coax over-eager batters into chasing it. When he fanned Gorman Thomas for the final out of the 1982 World Series, Sutter threw a high fastball.


Sutter was a tall, lanky pitcher, with long arms and long fingers, which was one of the reasons he could throw the split-fingered fastball so well. He often wore a beard, though he shaved it in Chicago because the Cubs had a policy forbidding facial hair.

Where He Played
Sutter became the first pitcher to be elected to the Hall of Fame who had never started at least one game in the big leagues.

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1976
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Willie Wilson
Garry Templeton
Dennis Martinez
Bruce Sutter
Rick Sutcliffe
Joaquin Andujar
Mark Fidrych

Uniform Numbers
Sutter wore #42 for most of his career, but briefly donned #40 with the Braves, because teammate Rick Mahler refused to part with it.

Family Tree
Sutter's son played college baseball and later coached at the college level.

Hall of Fame Voting
Year     Election     Votes     Pct
1994     BBWAA     109     24.0%
1995     BBWAA     137     29.8%
1996     BBWAA     137     29.1%
1997     BBWAA     130     27.5%
1998     BBWAA     147     31.1%
1999     BBWAA     121     24.3%
2000     BBWAA     192     38.5%
2001     BBWAA     245     47.6%
2002     BBWAA     238     50.4%
2003     BBWAA     266     53.6%
2004     BBWAA     301     59.5%
2005     BBWAA     344     66.7%
2006     BBWAA     400     76.9%

Post-Season Appearances
1982 National League Championship Series
1982 World Series

The Pitches He Threw
Sutter helped make the split-fingered fastball the pitch of the late 1970s and 1980s. Gripped between the index and middle fingers and thrown with a fastball motion, the ball appears to the batter as a fastball until the last few feet, when it tumbles straight down. Jack Morris and Mike Scott both had remarkable success with the pitch in the 1980s. Sutter learned the pitch from Cubs minor league pitching coach Fred Martin.

Post-Season Notes
In Game Two of the 1982 World Series, Sutter entered in the 7th inning in a 4-4 tie. He hurled 2 1/3 shutout innings and got the victory. In Game Three he pitched 2 1/3 innings and earned the save. He pitched in a losing cause in Game Five, and got the save in Game Seven.

Awards and Honors
1979 NL Cy Young
1979 NL Rolaids Relief
1981 NL Rolaids Relief
1982 NL Rolaids Relief
1984 NL Rolaids Relief

Injuries and Explanation for Missed Playing Time
In 1972, when he suffered his arm injury in the minor leagues, Sutter paid for his own operation, hoping to keep the seriousness of the injury quiet.

All-Star Selections
1977 NL
1978 NL
1979 NL
1980 NL
1981 NL
1984 NL

1982 World Series, All Star, Atlanta Braves, Bruce Sutter, Chicago Cubs, Clay Carroll, Hall of Fame, Old Dominion University, Rolaids Relief Award, Rollie Fingers, Save, Splitter, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Senators
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