The baseball world is in mourning following the news of Bruce Sutter‘s passing. The 69-year-old was a St. Louis Cardinals icon, Cy Young Award winner, Hall of Famer, World Series Champion, and pioneer of the split-finger fastball. The Cardinals fan-favorite was one of the most feared closers of his generation, racking up 300 saves in his career.
“1982 World Series champion, 1979 NL Cy Young Award winner, Hall of Famer. MLB Network mourns the passing of Bruce Sutter.” – MLB Network
In a statement by Sutter’s family, they stated “All our father ever wanted to be remembered as was being a great teammate, but he was so much more than that, he was also a great husband to our mother for 50 (years), he was a great father and grandfather and he was a great friend. His love and passion for the game of baseball can only be surpassed by his love and passion for his family.”
“Bruce Sutter family on his legacy” – Bob Nightengale
Sutter is survived by his wife, three sons, a daughter-in-law, and six grandkids.
Looking back on Bruce Sutter’s legendary career
Sutter played 12 seasons in the Majors, splitting time between the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves. He was drafted by the Washington Senators in the 21st round of the 1970 amateur draft, but elected not to sign with the club. Instead, Sutter signed with the Cubs in 1971 as a free agent.
At 19, he would undergo surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his arm. Upon recovery, there was a noticeable dip in his velocity. Sutter needed to reinvent himself, which he did. With the help of a minor league pitching instructor named Fred Martin, Sutter learned and developed a split-finger fastball, changing his career forever.
He would finally make his MLB debut in 1976 with the Cubs, but found his first taste of major success in 1977, earning him his first All-Star selection. In 1979, Sutter would win his only NL Cy Young Award after recording 37 saves with a 2.22 ERA while striking out 110 batters.
After a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, Bruce Sutter continued to rack up saves, recording 127 in his four seasons with the Cards. In 1982, Sutter would finally win his first and only World Series, striking out Gorman Thomas for a Game 7 clinching save.
In 1985-1988, Sutter would play his final three seasons with the Atlanta Braves before retiring in 1989 with a torn rotator cuff. He would finish his career with exactly 300 saves, 861 strikeouts, and 2.83 ERA.
In 2006, Sutter found himself elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was only the fourth relief pitcher to be elected, and the first to have never started a game.