Donald Howard Sutton (born April 2, 1945) was born in Clio, Alabama, a small town in Barbour County, and on the same date as former Dodger teammate Reggie Smith. Clio is also the birthplace of the late Alabama governor George Wallace. He was born to sharecroppers at the end of World War II, in a tar-paper shack. At the time he 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.
A right-handed pitcher, Sutton played for the Sioux Falls Packers as a minor leaguer, and entered the major league at the age of 21. Don Sutton's major league debut was on April 14, 1966, the same day that future 300-game winner Greg Maddux was born. In the majors, he played 23 years for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, and California Angels. He won a total of 324 games, 58 of them shutouts and five of them one-hitters, and he is eighth on baseball's all-time strikeout list with 3,574 K's. He also holds the major league record for number of consecutive losses to one team, having lost 13 straight games to the Chicago Cubs.
He was known for doctoring baseballs. His nickname was "Black & Decker"; legend has it that when Sutton met notorious greaseballer Gaylord Perry, Perry handed him a tube of Vaseline, and Sutton responded with a thank-you, then handed him a sheet of sandpaper.
A 4-time All-Star, Sutton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. His candidacy and subsequent election were controversial, with critics pointing out that he had never won a Cy Young Award, had won 20 games only once, and had rarely led his league in any statistical category. However, supporters noted that no pitcher with either 300 victories or 3000 strikeouts had ever failed to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and that his 324 wins were, at the time of his retirement, the most by any right-handed pitcher since the 1920s, and many pitchers with worse records were in the Hall of Fame.
Sutton holds the modern record for most at-bats (1,354) without ever hitting a home run.
Sutton's legacy of consistency and longevity is an amazing feat in itself, in an age before pitching counts would lift pitchers well before nine innings. He was the mainstay of a ball club with a pitching-rich tradition, a career that spanned from the Drysdale-Koufax era (1966) to Fernando Valenzuela (1980). In the final game of the 1980 season, Sutton was called on to complete a game winning save, 4-3, over Houston, forcing a one-game playoff — a poetic conclusion to a brilliant span of 15 years in L.A.
Sutton started his broadcasting career in 1989 with the Atlanta Braves on TBS, a position that he held through 2006. He left TBS after the 2006 season, mainly because the network will broadcast fewer games in future seasons. Sutton is now a color commentator for the Washington Nationals on the MASN network. This data was drawn from Wikipedia.
This episode was originally broadcast as a national radio syndication in May 1987.
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