August 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Dodgers Hall of Fame ironman pitcher Don Sutton dies at 75

Don Sutton, the Hall of Fame pitcher whose uniform number was the last one retired by the Dodgers, has died. He was 75.

Sutton’s death was announced by his son, Daron. On Twitter, Daron said his father “passed away in his sleep” Monday night.

“He worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known,” his son wrote, “and he treated those he encountered with great respect . . . and he took me to work a lot. For all these things, I am very grateful. Rest In Peace.”

The Dodgers have retired 10 uniform numbers, most recently Sutton’s No. 20 in 1998. With the deaths of Sutton and Tommy Lasorda this month, Sandy Koufax is the only living honoree among the men whose numbers the team has retired.

Sutton, a four-time All-Star, built his reputation on durability. He won 324 games, tied with Nolan Ryan for 14th on the all-time list. Yet, in an era when star pitchers were measured by their 20-win seasons, Sutton won 20 games once in 23 seasons.

He made the Dodgers as a rookie in 1966 and pitched at least 200 innings in 20 of his first 21 seasons, with the strike-shortened 1981 season the only exception. Sutton never missed a start because of an injury for 22 consecutive seasons.

On the all-time lists, he ranks third in games started with 756 — trailing only Cy Young and Ryan — and seventh in innings pitched with 5,282 1/3, seventh in strikeouts with 3,574 and 10th in shutouts with 58.

“I am 100% convinced that if I had spent most of my career anywhere but with the Dodgers, I would not have the record, not have the Hall of Fame, not have the life I enjoyed,’’ Sutton told The Times’ Bill Plaschke in 2017. “All those Dodger people gave me all of that. It’s my alma mater, and all the good I had in baseball came from them.

“I don’t have any fantasy or thought of being the best pitcher in Dodger history. But I would like to think I got everything I could get out of what I was gifted with.”

He pitched for the Dodgers through 1980, including World Series appearances in 1974, 1977 and 1978. He then pitched for Houston, Milwaukee and Oakland before joining the Angels, with whom he won his 300th game in 1986.

Sutton had never won a World Series when he rejoined the Dodgers for a farewell season in 1988. He did not pitch well, in part because of a sprained elbow, and the team released him in August. Two months later, the Dodgers won the World Series.

Don Sutton was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Sutton went on to a successful career as a baseball analyst for the Atlanta Braves on TBS from 1990 to 2006 before joining the Washington Nationals broadcast team for two seasons. He rejoined the Braves in 2009 with their radio network. He was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2015.

Sutton is the seventh Hall of Fame player to die since April: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan and Whitey Ford died in 2020. In addition, Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda died Jan. 7.