Former star reliever Bruce Sutter, Cy Young winner, passes away at 69
SAINT-LOUIS — Former star reliever Bruce Sutter, a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and winner of the Cy Young Trophy in 1979, has died. He was 69 years old.
Sutter had recently been diagnosed with cancer and passed away Thursday at a hospice surrounded by his family, Chad, one of Sutter’s three sons, told The Associated Press.
According to Major League Baseball Hall of Fame officials, Sutter died in Cartersville, Georgia.
« All our father wanted was to be remembered as a great teammate, but he was so much more than that, » the Sutter family members said in a statement released Friday.
“He was also a wonderful husband to our mother for 50 (years), he was a wonderful father and grandfather and he was a wonderful friend. His love and passion for baseball can only be surpassed by his love and passion for his family.”
Sutter, a right-handed pitcher, is considered one of the first gunners to use the slingshot.
He pitched for 12 major league seasons, was named to the All-Star Game six times and had 300 career wins.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he was « deeply saddened » by the news.
“Bruce was the first pitcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame without starting a single game, and he was one of the key figures who foreshadowed the evolution of reliever use,” Manfred said in a statement.
« Bruce will be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of two of our most historic franchises, » he added.
Sutter made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1976. In 1979, he won the Cy Young Trophy in the National League after a season where he had 37 saves, posted an ERA of 2.22 and racked up 110 strikeouts.
He joined the St. Louis Cardinals, an organization he played with from 1981 to 1984. In 1982, he helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series and ended Game 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers with one out on three strikes.
“Being a Cardinal of St. Louis is an honor he cherished deeply,” reads the family statement.
Sutter recorded the 300th and final save of his career in an Atlanta Braves uniform in 1988. He was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Bruce was a fan favorite during his years in St. Louis and in the years that followed, and will always be remembered for his decisive save in the 1982 World Series and for his slingshot ball, which was its trademark, » Cardinals owner and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.
“He was a true pioneer in the sport by changing the role of the late-game specialist reliever.”
Sutter was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in January 1953. In a statement, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame executives noted that Sutter learned to slingshot from a minor league instructor in the Cubs organization while recovering from right elbow surgery.
“I feel like one of my brothers passed away,” said former pitcher Jim Kaat, a Hall of Famer.
“I knew Bruce more deeply than probably any other teammate. We spent a lot of time together and as it happens when your careers come to an end, you go your separate ways. But we kept in touch and considered each other great friends.”
Associated Press sportswriters Ron Blum and Tom Canavan contributed to this article.