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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton dies at 75

Don Sutton, the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander who won over 300 games in his Hall of Fame career, died Monday night, his son Daron announced on social media.

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said Don Sutton died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, after a long struggle with cancer. He was 75….

Sutton’s career began and ended with the Dodgers, with whom he spent 16 of his 23 seasons—spanning from 1966 to 1980 and a final tour in 1988. He was a four-time All-Star and his 324 wins rank 14th in major league history.

He also pitched for the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels. After his playing career, Sutton served as an analyst for the Atlanta Braves for 28 seasons, calling games on both television and radio.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 19, 2021 at 06:26 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: don sutton, obituaries

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   1. kthejoker Posted: January 19, 2021 at 06:38 PM (#6000653)
Teammates with 1953 Rookie of the Year Jim Gilliam and Jesse Orosco who last pitched in 2003.

50 years of baseball history, pretty cool.
   2. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: January 19, 2021 at 06:51 PM (#6000656)
Nobody can compile forever. RIP Don. A good pitcher for ages and ages.
   3. JRVJ Posted: January 19, 2021 at 07:02 PM (#6000660)
Hall of Famers keep falling like flies.

The next time they get together at Cooperstown, its going to be a somewhat empty (and younger) event.
   4. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 19, 2021 at 07:15 PM (#6000663)
Bad month for aging Dodgers.
   5. AndrewJ Posted: January 19, 2021 at 07:18 PM (#6000665)
The first MLB game I ever went to was at Dodger Stadium in August 1978. Sutton beat Gaylord Perry 3-2. Later that month Sutton started a clubhouse fistfight with Steve Garvey. He's going to Heaven for that.

RIP.
   6. Astroenteritis Posted: January 19, 2021 at 07:54 PM (#6000669)
Really enjoyed Sutton's brief stay with the Astros, he pitched quite well. Damn, we've lost a lot of great ones lately.
   7. The Duke Posted: January 19, 2021 at 07:58 PM (#6000671)
Sandy Koufax must be scared shitless
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: January 19, 2021 at 08:03 PM (#6000672)
top 10 living pitchers, most career Wins, as of Jan 1, 2020:

Rank Player (yrs, age) Wins Throws
8. Greg Maddux+ (23) 355 R
9. Roger Clemens (24) 354 R
11. Steve Carlton+ (24) 329 L
14. Nolan Ryan+ (27) 324 R
14. DON SUTTON+ (23) 324 R
16. PHIL NIEKRO+ (24) 318 R
17. Gaylord Perry+ (22) 314 R
18. TOM SEAVER+ (20) 311 R
21. Tom Glavine+ (22) 305 L
22. Randy Johnson+ (22) 303 L

current list:
Rank Player (yrs, age) Wins Throws
8. Greg Maddux+ (23) 355 R
9. Roger Clemens (24) 354 R
11. Steve Carlton+ (24) 329 L
14. Nolan Ryan+ (27) 324 R
17. Gaylord Perry+ (22) 314 R
21. Tom Glavine+ (22) 305 L
22. Randy Johnson+ (22) 303 L
26. Tommy John (26) 288 L
27. Bert Blyleven+ (22) 287 R
29. Fergie Jenkins+ (19) 284 R

Perry is 82, Jenkins is 78, John is 77, Carlton is 76, Ryan is 73, Blyleven turns 70 in April

Jim Kaat (283) awaits a signal from the mound - maybe. he's 82
   9. Brian C Posted: January 19, 2021 at 08:29 PM (#6000678)
Sandy Koufax must be scared shitless

He's counting on 3000 years of beautiful tradition to have his back.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 19, 2021 at 08:32 PM (#6000680)

Perry is 82, Jenkins is 78, John is 77, Carlton is 76, Ryan is 73, Blyleven turns 70 in April


And John is currently hospitalized with COVID.
   11. AndrewJ Posted: January 19, 2021 at 08:39 PM (#6000682)
Hall of Famers keep falling like flies.

The next time they get together at Cooperstown, its going to be a somewhat empty (and younger) event.


Nine Hall of Famers in the last calendar year. Plus likely inductee Dick Allen.
   12. phredbird Posted: January 19, 2021 at 09:10 PM (#6000692)

the article lists all the hall of famers that died last year.

oof.

with the exception of tommy lasorda, i saw all of them play (on TV) and i used to see tommy at dodger games when i lived in L.A.
   13. The Duke Posted: January 19, 2021 at 09:20 PM (#6000694)
We’ll be happy we have Harold Baines when he’s the last man standing
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 19, 2021 at 09:25 PM (#6000697)
R.I.P.
   15. Sweatpants Posted: January 19, 2021 at 09:48 PM (#6000705)
Loved him as a commentator. You could tell that pitching really was a passion for him. I remember he used to praise Omar Infante for taking a long walk to the batter's box when the pitcher had just made an out, so that the hurler could get more time to rest in the dugout. Joe Simpson is the only longtime TBS announcer left now.
   16. Tony S Posted: January 19, 2021 at 09:50 PM (#6000706)
RIP Don.

Durable, consistent, reliable, and a richly deserving Hall of Famer.

Pleasure to watch. He knew how to work and slice up a hitter. Not really a power pitcher, but not a junkballer either. Sui generis. Kind of a proto-Greg Maddux.

He got everything out of his ability. A pitcher version of Pete Rose, without the scandals and self-promotion. Class act all the way.



   17. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:07 PM (#6000709)
People always talk about Sutton like he's totally peakless, but that's not entirely true; from '71 to '73, he threw almost 800 innings of 143 ERA+, with an FIP within .01 of his ERA. Led his leagues in WHIP four times, K/BB ratio three times, ERA once, shutouts once.

In my starting pitcher rankings (which I have referenced uncomfortably often in obituary threads recently), Sutton spent 42 days at #1 (through 1983, but I'm not expecting him to add any more), split between July of '73 and May-June of '75. Not an overwhelming total, but it ties him with Jim Palmer, which I would NOT have expected in advance.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:20 PM (#6000713)
I've asked this before ... and it was probably answered ... but his son does (did?) PBP for the DBacks. I recall in one game he pulled out the old "Dad always said he never used a foreign substance -- vaseline is made in America." But I don't recall Sutton ever being accused of that. I recall (maybe incorrectly) suggestions of scuffing. Was he a known spitballer? Do we have any evidence other than my recollection of some PBP from probably 15 years ago?

As I'll depressingly note again after depressingly noting in another recent memorial thread, we will have to get used to relatively large numbers of "name" MLB players dying each year. We're just now touching guys who debuted in early expansion and just about to start touching the baby boomers in earnest. (Whether we will see as many HoFers depends on the VCs at this point.)

If we take the boom as starting Jan 1946, then the "first by birthdate" boomer in the HoF was Catfish Hunter. Given Catfish was inducted at the young age of 40, I assume he was the first boomer elected as well. Bobby Bonds was born a few weeks before Hunter so I suppose a VC could make him the "first by birthdate." The oldest living HoF boomer is Reggie (May 18, 1946).
   19. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:20 PM (#6000714)
I still have the ticket stub for the most important win of Sutton's career. He pitched 8 innings of 2 run ball to beat the Orioles and win the division for the Brewers in the final game of the season, after Milwaukee had lost the first 3 games of the series to fall into a tie.

He then totally crapped out in the World Series, but that season finale in Baltimore was definitely Da Man.

   20. Tony S Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6000717)
I've asked this before ... and it was probably answered ... but his son does (did?) PBP for the DBacks. I recall in one game he pulled out the old "Dad always said he never used a foreign substance -- vaseline is made in America." But I don't recall Sutton ever being accused of that. I recall (maybe incorrectly) suggestions of scuffing. Was he a known spitballer? Do we have any evidence other than my recollection of some PBP from probably 15 years ago?


Oh, definitely. I remember when he started the All-Star Game in 1977. He said he knew he got the assignment when Sparky Anderson, who was managing the NL team, asked him what kind of sandpaper he wanted in his locker.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:32 PM (#6000720)
it ties him with Jim Palmer, which I would NOT have expected in advance.

Me neither but it probably depends on what you cook into your rankings (which it's my own fault for not remembering). Palmer sure appears to have benefited substantially from the stellar O's defense. He had a FIP of 3.50 and a ERA of 2.86. His FIP+ is only 102, 68 bWAR vs 57 fWAR. In contrast, Sutton also has 68 bWAR but a whopping 85 fWAR. Sutton also benefited from good defense but apparently horrific bullpen support -- 21 wins according to fg. I'd say your finding is a good bit less suprising to me than fg's finding that Sutton was 30 wins better than Palmer. (Granted 1300 extra IP is a chunk of that.)
   22. Walt Davis Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:32 PM (#6000722)
#20: As I said, known as a scuffer. I'm asking if he was known for a spitter.
   23. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:34 PM (#6000723)
OTOH Palmer looks like he could live to 100. He's either got 1 in 1000 genes or a hell of a plastic surgeon.
   24. baxter Posted: January 19, 2021 at 10:43 PM (#6000725)
22 Never heard it; but I was unaware of the nickname "Black and Decker"; he was known as "Little D" in LA, at least through the 70's (Big D being Drysdale).

Sutton never got a ring, although he played for 88 Dodgers, maybe he did receive one; thought he was released in the season, can't remember if he was left off the roster.

In the Lester thread, someone joked (I hope) that the key to pitching longevity was cancer, to which Sutton succumbed. In the mid-70's pre-game, Sutton and Tommy John each would jog around the hills of Elysian Park (area surrounding Dodger Stadium). Each had very long careers. Could be the legs as much as the arm; though when Ryan's legs went that was the end of his career.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: January 19, 2021 at 11:21 PM (#6000732)
Sutton never got a ring

he tossed 226 IP for the 1966 NL champion Dodgers and went 12-12 with a 2.99 ERA.

so while he didn't pitch in that WS sweep, he was a member of the losing WS team in 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, and 1982.

he also pitched for the 1986 Angels, who had the ALCS trophy in their clubhouse before the Red Sox snatched that triumph away.

Sutton was released by the Dodgers on Aug. 10, 1988 - presumably because the club figured out his pattern. (just kidding. he sprained his elbow, and his first-ever DL stint turned out to be his last and the end of his career.)

still, even playing on that squad caused the Dodgers to go more than 3 decades without winning another WS.

   26. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 19, 2021 at 11:36 PM (#6000735)
Me neither but it probably depends on what you cook into your rankings (which it's my own fault for not remembering).

They're based on a running weighted average of Game Score 2, which is a moderately FIP-ier version of Game Score.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: January 19, 2021 at 11:47 PM (#6000738)
He pitched 8 innings of 2 run ball to beat the Orioles and win the division for the Brewers in the final game of the season, after Milwaukee had lost the first 3 games of the series to fall into a tie.


The game 163 that wasn't a one-game playoff.
   28. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 20, 2021 at 01:17 AM (#6000744)
With Koufax and Drysdale, one of three Hall of Famers in the Dodgers 1966 four-man rotation. Hall of Fame pitchers started 116 of the Dodgers' 162 games that season.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: January 20, 2021 at 01:34 AM (#6000746)
and Claude Osteen started 38 more.

the other 8 were started by young swingman Joe Moeller.

5 starters all season.

career wins:

Sutton 324
Drysdale 209
Osteen 196
Koufax 165
Moeller 26

TOTAL WINS 920

age in last season of pitching:
Sutton 43
Osteen 35
Drysdale 32
Koufax 30
Moeller 28
   30. Posada Posse Posted: January 20, 2021 at 08:20 AM (#6000753)
(just kidding. he sprained his elbow, and his first-ever DL stint turned out to be his last and the end of his career.)


This is truly remarkable. According to the article, he never missed his turn in the rotation during his long career; can’t imagine that happening with present day pitchers with long careers.
   31. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 20, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6000821)
A few thoughts about Sutton:

1) I used to think of him as the ultimate compiler, at least among that remarkable generation of pitchers who pitched from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. But he did have a pretty impressive run from age 27 to 31 where he finished between 3rd and 5th in the CYA voting five years in a row, and then was very good for three more years between 1980 and 1982.

2) We should probably be prepared, as some have noted above, to start seeing the passing of a number of those pitching greats from this era. Depending how you define the start and end points of it, we've lost three in a short amount of time - Sutton, Niekro, and Seaver - with several others getting well up into their 70s. It is a remarkable list (and I know I'm forgetting some guys):

Seaver
Carlton
Ryan
Perry
Palmer
Niekro
Jenkins
Sutton
Blyleven
Tiant
John
Kaat
Hunter

Tnen you get to the next bunch, like:
Koosman
Lolich
Blue
Hough
J. Niekro
Tanana
J. Perry
Reuss
R. Reuschel

All those guys won 200+ games. Going through those names quickly is a stark reminder of how different future standards for HOF-worthiness today's starting pitchers will have to be for very many of them to even get a sniff of 75% of the vote.

3) Who are the pitchers (either contemporaries or more recent pitchers) who are the most like Sutton, in terms of their profile, where they fit historically, etc.? I mean, could you make an argument that Sutton is the best compiler of all time? (I think that's probably not fair to him, given that he is 7th all-time with 3574 Ks.) Are there years where, if he were the best pitcher on your team, you could win the World Series? (It seems like he had several years where he was good enough to get your team to the playoffs.)

I think if Mark Buehrle had pitched in the 1960s and 1970s, and pitched for teams like the 1970s Dodgers and the early 1980s Astros, he might have been able to win 300 games, and would be a lot like Sutton.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: January 20, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6000824)
we've lost three in a short amount of time - Sutton, Niekro, and Seaver


Gibby died after Seaver.
   33. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 20, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6000834)
I mean, could you make an argument that Sutton is the best compiler of all time? (I think that's probably not fair to him, given that he is 7th all-time with 3574 Ks.)
Probably time to reclaim the term ‘compiler’ - it really shouldn’t be considered a put down, at least for most major milestones. 300 wins or 3,000 Ks is incredibly difficult, and a mark of great skill, no matter how you do it.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2021 at 05:12 PM (#6000840)
I believe 80-yo Luis Tiant is missing from that list.

#33: Two meanings of "compiler" really. There's the guy who was pretty great in his 20s but declines substantially in his 30s but hangs on for several years, possibly a couple "too many" to reach a milestone. You could put Biggio here, maybe Murray too. Then there's the guy who was just consistently good but rarely/never great for a very long time. Whitaker is a prime example except he never hit any milestones. This is where Sutton probably goes -- one 6 WAR season, one 5 WAR season, one 20-win season, only 8 points of black ink but heaps of gray ink. There's a reason it took him a few years on the ballot despite 300 wins.

Obviously there's heaps of value in 250 innings a year, year after year, and maybe we even want to consider that a skill. But Sutton's performance was rarely great.

I don't think Biggio needed 3,000 hits to be a HoFer so he was a "compiler" in that sense. I'm pretty sure Sutton did need 300 wins to make it (via the writers at least). It's pretty much what separates him from John and Kaat and I recall regular articles/discussion at the time around "shouldn't 300 wins get you in."

Huh, Sutton's election year was Blyleven's debut on the ballot at 17% (10% behind John and Kaat).

To be clear, not suggesting Sutton hung on too long much less to pass a milestone. He cruised well past 300 wins, passing it early in his age 41 season which ended up a season of 207 IP and 110 ERA+. He was durable and average at 42 so perfectly sensible to give him another go at 43. That was far from atrocious and is just a standard "OK, time to hang them up" season.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: January 20, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6000842)
Is the kind of 20-year above average goodness from Sutton more rare than a five-year run of excellence?
   36. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: January 20, 2021 at 05:38 PM (#6000846)
OTOH Palmer looks like he could live to 100. He's either got 1 in 1000 genes or a hell of a plastic surgeon.


The man was literally an underwear model. I'm guessing it's genes.
   37. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: January 20, 2021 at 05:45 PM (#6000848)
Palmer's hair is pretty great for a 75-year old.
   38. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 20, 2021 at 06:06 PM (#6000850)
Gibby died after Seaver.


I didn't include Bob Gibson on that list, because I thought of him as from an older generation than the group I listed above. I wasn't thinking of Hall of Famers who recently died; rather, pitchers from the group I listed above.

I believe 80-yo Luis Tiant is missing from that list.


Tiant is on that list, between Blyleven and Tommy John. And that's about where I'd personally put him on my ranking of that generation: There are 22 pitchers from that generation (AS I attempted to define it) who won 200+ games. 10 of them are in the Hall of Fame (Seaver, G. Perry, Palmer, P. Niekro, Jenkins, Blyleven, Carlton, Ryan, Sutton, and Hunter). I personally think three of the other 12 who are not in the HOF have a good case for being there - Tiant, John, and Kaat, in that order. All three are better candidates than Hunter, but that shouldn't be an argument for supporting other pitchers - Hunter was one of the worst selections by the BBWAA of my lifetime.

I think Walt in #34 does a nice job of splitting two kinds of "compilers" you often see. THe argument some are making about Buerhle is that he is a modern-day version of a HOF-worthy compiler, and he certainly was an above-average, highly-durable pitcher right up until his last season. He just didn't play long enough, or have enough of a peak, to get further than where he's at (survive the 5% cutoff).Sutton was clearly better, both in terms of his peak and his career length, than virtually any pitcher in history we'd call a compiler (compared to a guy like Kaat, who basically pitched forever, which got him from 250 wins to 283).
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: January 20, 2021 at 06:18 PM (#6000852)
I didn't include Bob Gibson on that list, because I thought of him as from an older generation than the group I listed above.


Ah. He was a little older than the oldest of that lot (Niekro), though he debuted the same year as Kaat.
   40. Howie Menckel Posted: January 20, 2021 at 06:20 PM (#6000853)
Hunter was one of the worst selections by the BBWAA of my lifetime.


sigh

I guess you had to be there.

the Opening Day, opening postseason starting pitcher on the last team to win 3 consecutive World Series. Hunter won 20 games five consecutive seasons, averaging 22 wins and 293 IP per season.

4-0 in 5 World Series starts in the 1972-74 Oakland trifecta, allowing 9 ER in 37 IP.

that 5th season of 20+ wins came for the Yankees - after a free-agent frenzy that was historically unique.

the first AL perfect game in more than 50 years. the thick moustache. the swagger. also in the rotation for the 1977-78 Yankees, giving him 5 ringzzzzzz in 7 years.

it's impossible to write the history of 1970s baseball without Catfish. not honoring him in the fans' Hall at Cooperstown would have been too absurd for words.

now, have I ever given him one of my 15 slots for the Hall of MERIT in 40 "years" of voting? no.

but Hall of FAME? absolutely no question.

baseball is an entertainment product, not a video game.
   41. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 20, 2021 at 07:22 PM (#6000857)
the Opening Day, opening postseason starting pitcher on the last team to win 3 consecutive World Series.
That would be the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 20, 2021 at 07:23 PM (#6000858)
it's impossible to write the history of 1970s baseball without Catfish. not honoring him in the fans' Hall at Cooperstown would have been too absurd for words.

Spot on, Howie. I've ripped you plenty of times, but you're one of the few people around here who understands the difference between the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Merit.
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: January 20, 2021 at 07:52 PM (#6000867)
the Opening Day, opening postseason starting pitcher on the last team to win 3 consecutive World Series.

That would be the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.

never have I found a factual error of mine to be so...... entertaining, and interesting.

:)
   44. Gary Truth Serum Posted: January 20, 2021 at 07:53 PM (#6000868)
There was a 70s Saturday morning Krofft live action kids show called Wonderbug where one of the episodes involved some nasty criminals kidnapping Don Sutton. The heroes had to find a way to rescue him before a big ballgame. Was it because the Dodgers were in a pennant race? No it was because an owner said the fans were screaming for their money back if Sutton didn't pitch. My take on it was that Sutton was probably the last star pitcher of the 70s where you would expect fans to revolt if he wasn't on the mound.
   45. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 20, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6000880)
RIP Don, an entertaining and enlightening broadcaster.

Sutton had an impressive 7-year prime from 1971-77 (the only years in which he received an All-Star nod or Cy Young votes): 124-71 with a 2.76 ERA and 32 shutouts. Before and after, he was 200-185 with a slightly above-average ERA+ in 3450 IP, basically the career of someone like Jim Perry or Bob Welch.
   46. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: January 20, 2021 at 09:56 PM (#6000900)
Don Sutton was a very smart and wonderful pitcher. A very complex person, as some have said of the fight between him and Garvey, Joe Ferguson was speaking for much of the team when he egged them both on, neither of them was a completely loved in the clubhouse. But I believe Garvey and Sutton eventually reconciled, after they had both left the Dodgers. Reuss and Johnstone both have a lot to say, mostly good, about both of them.

3) Who are the pitchers (either contemporaries or more recent pitchers) who are the most like Sutton


One thing about Sutton is that his mechanics were, from the book standpoint, TERRIBLE. He tucked his wrist, he threw from almost straight up and down posture, seemingly all arm, he fell off the mound to his left instead of forward. I heard from countless broadcasters and coaches that if you tuck your wrist it would lead to arm troubles, but Sutton won 324 games and was never on the DL until his last year. The two pitchers I can think of who also tucked their wrist was Rick Sutcliffe and Barry Zito, neither of whom had as long of a career as Sutton, but neither of whom retired because of arm trouble.

You watch Sutton and he would throw his curveball some, but he was constantly cutting his fastball one way or the other, changing speeds, changing locations. It was always a wonder to watch. He did quite a lot with seemingly not much to work with.

Here's Sutton (as an Angel) versus Seaver in 1986, Seaver's last year, Sutton's 3rd to last year. A close game. Lot's of other names in this one - Buckner, Boggs, Reggie, Joyner, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Don Baylor.

7/27/1986 Tom Seaver versus Don Sutton, Red Sox versus Angels

Here's the Box Score

Box Score, 7/27/1986, Seaver (Red Sox) versus Sutton (Angels)

Here's Sutton against the Giants in 1978, in his prime. Not a whole lot different.

1978 Dodgers (Sutton) against the Giants
   47. DL from MN Posted: January 20, 2021 at 10:13 PM (#6000901)
Here's a link to the episode of Wonderbug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk-OYxKf-_o

It's a pretty terrible TV show.
   48. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: January 20, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6000906)
That really is a terrible show!
   49. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 21, 2021 at 10:32 AM (#6000950)
Wow that show is bad. It looks like an SNL skit making fun of the 70s.

Why are the main characters played by 25 year olds who act like they are 10?
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: January 21, 2021 at 10:43 AM (#6000953)
I'm not sure what to think about a terrible Krofft-produced kids show that isn't also terrifying. Where are the creepy talking flutes or anthropomorphic hats or Billie Hayes?
   51. Gary Truth Serum Posted: January 21, 2021 at 11:19 AM (#6000974)
And upon rewatching it, I had no idea until now that one of the kidnapping hoodlums was played by Casey Kasem. You can see why acting was not Casey's day job, but that was the least of the issues with this show. Sutton may have been the only redeeming part of the show, in part because he was playing himself and in part because he had enough self awareness to know not to treat it seriously.
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: January 21, 2021 at 11:31 AM (#6000982)
And upon rewatching it, I had no idea until now that one of the kidnapping hoodlums was played by Casey Kasem.


That's who that was. I knew I recognized him.
   53. flournoy Posted: January 21, 2021 at 05:16 PM (#6001075)
That show would be truly unbearable even without the laughtrack.
   54. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 21, 2021 at 05:24 PM (#6001082)
My take on it was that Sutton was probably the last star pitcher of the 70s where you would expect fans to revolt if he wasn't on the mound.
WAR would have you believe it has to be Rick Reuschel.
   55. Rally Posted: January 21, 2021 at 08:42 PM (#6001105)
#46, thanks for the links. I watched the game this afternoon.
   56. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2021 at 07:18 PM (#6001313)
Is the kind of 20-year above average goodness from Sutton more rare than a five-year run of excellence?

Probably ... maybe even nearly certainly. (I mean 20 years is a big ask to begin with but I suppose it comes down to how excellent does that 5-year run need to be to qualify.)

Howie: Hunter aside you know full well that the Hall of Fame wasn't created to recognize fame but to bestow it on the highest achievers. When you think about it, a Hall of Fame to honor famous people makes no sense. IF they're famous, they don't need your hall's help for people to recognize that fame. If it's just a glorified tourist trap (Madame Tussaud's, the R&R HoF) then of course the point of the business is to leverage the person's actual fame to generate visitors. While I'm sure the bookkeeper's in Cooperstown care only about a player's fame, that's not what the HoF's purpose is supposed to be.

So folks making your argument are really just saying "duh, of course fame's going to play a role in the minds of the BBWAA and the VCs." Please stop confusing that with some mission to capture the history of the game.

it's impossible to write the history of 1970s baseball without Catfish. not honoring him in the fans' Hall at Cooperstown would have been too absurd for words.

A few points to make here. Start with the easiest one: you might consider it "too absurd for words" but, on debut, nearly half of the actual voters didn't find it absurd to omit him. He even got slightly fewer votes than Jim Bunning and many fewer than Hoyt Wilhelm. That's certainly a debut vote percentage that virtually guarantees eventual induction but it's also pretty clearly one where very few people think the history of baseball couldn't be written without this player included. The next year he fell well short of McCovey and a bit short of Billy Williams but did squeeze past Bunning. Fortunately for Hunter, he made it in before 1989 when the wave of better starters swamped Bunning's chances although, with many ballots left, Hunter would likely have still made it over eventually.

Next, I agree that the history of early 1970s baseball can't be written without Catfish, we usually require more than that for the HoF. Being a star for an entire decade and then another half-decade or more of being good is the usual minimum requirement. You can't write the history of 80s baseball without Jack Morris or the 60's without Denny McLain or the 80's without Dale Murphy. Folks like to trot out the "you couldn't write the history ..." argument as if it alone justifies HoF induction. Anyway, writing the history is the job of the museum part; the job of the HoF part is to honor the very best.

Which brings us to honoring him in the fans' Hall and back to my earlier point. The fans don't vote on the HoF of course so it is the "fans' Hall" only in the financial/advertising sense. And so your argument is not that his fame required "honoring" ... your argument is that not adding him might have a negative effect on attendance because he was famous. The argument "he was so famous, of course they were gonna put him in" is frequently correct but is not a justification for honoring a player's achievement and does not address whether any given player should be inducted (just whether they will be). Your argument is that the HoF should be Madame Tussaud's.

There is a case to be made for Hunter on peak although that case requires acknowledging that, back then, folks though pitcher wins were the key to judging pitchers. Once you do that, he looks like a wins-equivalent of Roy Halladay say which might be enough to let the voters off the hook. Given our current views, he was a very good pitcher who had great luck in teammates and (eventually) bad luck with injuries.
   57. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 07:42 PM (#6001315)
always fun to have someone fantasize that they can rummage around my - or anyone's - head and tell me what my "argument" is and what it is not.

more entertaining than just having someone post their OWN argument. that's for amateurs.
   58. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 24, 2021 at 01:49 PM (#6001463)
There was a 70s Saturday morning Krofft live action kids show called Wonderbug where one of the episodes involved some nasty criminals kidnapping Don Sutton. The heroes had to find a way to rescue him before a big ballgame. Was it because the Dodgers were in a pennant race? No it was because an owner said the fans were screaming for their money back if Sutton didn't pitch.


I prefer the Krofft episode where Juan Marichal furiously smashed in the heads of all four Bugaloos with a bat.
   59. yest Posted: January 24, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6001481)
There is a case to be made for Hunter on peak although that case requires acknowledging that, back then, folks though pitcher wins were the key to judging pitchers. Once you do that, he looks like a wins-equivalent of Roy Halladay say which might be enough to let the voters off the hook. Given our current views, he was a very good pitcher who had great luck in teammates and (eventually) bad luck with injuries.

Leading the league in era once, opponents on base percentage twice, and opponents batting average once is a little more than wins

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