MLB: Former pitcher Don Sutton dies at 75
LOS ANGELES — Don Sutton, a Baseball Hall of Famer who began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers alongside legendary Sandy Koufax and ended it 22 years later with the same organization under Fernando Valenzuela , died on Tuesday. He was 75 years old.
Hall of Fame officials in Cooperstown say Sutton passed away at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., after a long battle with cancer.
Managers of the Atlanta Braves, for whom Sutton worked for a long time as an analyst, said he died in his sleep.
« Today we lost a great player, a great commentator and, most importantly, a great quality man, » Dodgers president Stan Kasten said.
“It was a privilege for me to work with Don in Atlanta and Washington, and I will always cherish the times we had together. »
Four-time All-Star winner (1972, 1973, 1975 and 1977), Sutton, a right-handed pitcher, posted a career record of 324 wins and 256 losses and an ERA of 3.26.
Known for his stamina, Sutton has never missed a game in the pitching rotation, in 756 major league starts. Only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan have started more games than Sutton, whose name has never been on the injured list in his 23 campaigns.
A master at varying the speed of his shots and hitting the target, Sutton had just one 20-game winning season, in 1976, but won at least ten games every year except 1983 and 1988.
Of all his wins, 58 have come through shutouts. He pitched five one-hit games and ten where he allowed only two hits.
Sutton ranks seventh in strikeouts (3,574) and innings pitched (5,258 1/3). He reached the 200 innings mark in 20 of his first 21 seasons, with the exception to the rule occurring in 1981, a season curtailed by a labor dispute.
« He worked as hard as anyone I’ve known and he treated the people he met with great respect (…) and he regularly took me with him to work, » his son Daron wrote on Twitter. .
“For all these things, I am very grateful. »
Born on April 2, 1945 in Alabama, Sutton joined the Dodgers organization as a free agent in September 1964, a few months before Major League Baseball’s first-ever draft.
After going 23-7 in one minor league season, Sutton earned a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation in 1966.
He pitched his first game on April 14, 1966 and scored his first victory four days later.
Sutton immediately found himself in a starting group that included Koufax, Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen as the fourth starter.
That season, Sutton amassed 209 strikeouts, the most by a rookie gunner since 1911.
He helped the Dodgers get to the World Series in 1974, 1977 and 1978.
Sutton left the Dodgers and joined the Houston Astros as a free agent in 1980. In 1982, a trade sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers, which he helped get to the World Series during this same season.
He also appeared in the playoffs with the California Angels in 1986. During that season, he collected the 300th victory of his career, on June 18 against the Texas Rangers thanks to a complete game of three hits.
Throughout his career, Sutton also wore the colors of the Oakland Athletics in 1985.
He returned to the Dodgers in 1988 but retired before the end of a campaign that saw the California team win the World Series.
Sutton’s passing comes on the heels of the disappearances of several Hall of Fame members in recent months. The list includes Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro and Tom Seaver.
Sutton pitched with the Dodgers during the reign of manager Tommy Lasorda, another Hall of Famer who died Jan. 7.
» ENOUGH! #DonSutton A man with so much class,” former Cincinnati Reds legend Johnny Bench wrote on Twitter. » I’m so sad. »
Sutton was inducted into Cooperstown in 1998. The Dodgers retired his jersey the same year.