- Black & Decker
- April 2, 1945
- 6' 1"
- 185 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-14-1966 with LAN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1976 LG, 1977 AsMVP
- Hall of Fame:
Few modern pitchers have generated as much controversy concerning their place in the Hall of Fame than Don Sutton, who never won a Cy Young Award, and garnered 20 wins just once. However, he did perform at a very high level for more than two decades, finishing in the top five in Cy Young voting five times (the same number of times as Robin Roberts, and four more than Whitey Ford or Catfish Hunter). Sutton won at least 15 games in a season twelve times and was part of four World Series pitching staffs on his way to 324 victories.
Don Sutton never spent one day on the disabled list, keeping his body and mind in tip-top shape and enabling him to start at least 30 games in 20 of his 22 seasons. A tall, lean right-hander, Sutton used a low-90s fastball, a sweeping curveball, and (some say) a scuff ball or spitter.
In 1966, Sutton joined Koufax, Drysdale and Osteen to form a super rotation, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers to the pennant. Sutton was named Rookie Pitcher of the Year on the strength of his 209 strikeouts. It began an unprecedented his string of 20 straight years with at least 100 K's (later broken by Nolan Ryan).
In his first four seasons, Sutton was a victim of bad luck and poor run support. His career record stood at 51-60 through 1969, but his ERA was a sparkling 3.28, and he had tossed 11 shutouts and 35 complete games. Finally, in the early 1970s, Sutton and the team began to fire on all cylinders. From 1971-1978, Sutton's 2.86 ERA ranked second to Tom Seaver in the NL, and his 139 victories were bested only by Seaver and Steve Carlton.
Sutton established himself as a clutch performer, going 3-0 in his four post-season starts in 1974, including a win in the deciding Game Four of the NL Playoffs. He won Game Two of the World Series that year and left Game Five with his team in a 2-2 tie. In 1977, he won two more games in the post-season. He finished his career with a 6-4 post-season record and a 3.66 ERA in more than 100 innings. His biggest win came on the final day of the 1982 season when he pitched the Brewers to a 10-2 win over the Orioles to win the AL East title. Sutton allowed eight hits and two runs in eight innings.
After stints with the Astros and Brewers, Sutton returned to the west coast in 1985, and pitched for the A's and Angels before coming back full circle to the Dodgers for his final campaign, in 1988. He started 3-2 for LA in '88 as a fifth starter, but went winless in his next nine starts and was released. He was LA's all-time leader in wins, starts, and complete games. At the time of his release, the team was one-half game in front in the NL West. The Dodgers went on to win the division, pennant and a dramatic World Series, but Sutton had missed his chance at a World Series ring.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Growing up and minor leagues:
Sutton was born in Clio, Alabama, a small town in Barbour County, and on the same date as future Dodger teammate Reggie Smith. He was born to sharecroppers at the end of World War II, in a tar-paper shack. At the time Sutton was born his father was 18 and his mother was 15. Sutton's father, Howard, gave him the strong work ethic that he had throughout his career. His father tried logging and construction work, and in looking for work, moved the family to Molino, Florida, just north of Pensacola.
|Don Sutton's number 20 was retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998.|
Sutton attended J. M. Tate High School in Cantonment/Gonzalez, Florida where he played baseball, basketball, and football. He led his baseball team to the small-school state finals two years in row, winning his junior year, 1962, and losing 2–1 in his senior year, and was named all-county, all-conference, and all-state for both of those seasons. He graduated in 1963, and was voted "Most Likely to Succeed". He wanted to attend the University of Florida, but then coach Dave Fuller was not interested. Instead he attended Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida for one year, and then after a good summer league, was signed by the Dodgers.
Sutton played for the Sioux Falls Packers as a minor leaguer, and entered the major league at the age of 21. Sutton's major league debut was on April 14, 1966, the same day that future 300-game winner Greg Maddux was born.
Sutton started his broadcasting career in 1989, splitting duties between Dodgers cable telecasts on Z Channel and Atlanta Braves telecasts on TBS. The following year he became a full-time commentator for the Braves, a position that he held through 2006. He left TBS after the 2006 season, mainly because the network would broadcast fewer games in 2007 and had to cut back on the number of broadcasters. Sutton was a color commentator for the Washington Nationals on the MASN network until January 27, 2009. Sutton still had two years remaining on his contract with the Nationals, but when an Atlanta Braves radio job opened up, he negotiated his release in order to return to Atlanta where he had many ties and to be closer to his boyhood home in Alabama. His current broadcast partner is Jim Powell, who joined the Braves Radio Network in 2009.
Sutton is an avid golfer and wine enthusiast and frequently makes references to these hobbies while broadcasting.
Sutton has also broadcast golf and served as a pre- and post-game analyst for NBC's coverage of the 1987 League Championship Series.
His son, Daron, is a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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- 1974 World Series, 1977 World Series, 1978 World Series, 1982 World Series, Baseball History, California Angels, Don Sutton, Hall of Fame, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers