One of baseball’s greatest relief pitchers, Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, passed away on October 13 at the age of 69. He played for the Cubs, Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves in his 12-year major league career. In his first professional season in 1972, he injured his arm. At spring training in 1973 he was taught how to throw a split-finger fastball and it energized his career.
Sutter was a six-time All-Star and won a Cy Young Award in 1979 with the Cubs. He ended his career with 300 saves.
- Sutter was born in Lancaster, PA. He is one of 1,488 MLB players born in Pennsylvania, and one of 678 pitchers born in that state. Sutter is also one of 19 players born in Lancaster; one of his teammates with the St. Louis Cardinals was second baseman Tom Herr, another Lancaster, PA-born MLB player. The two of them won a World Series together with the Cards in 1982.
- Drafted by the Washington Senators in the 21st round of the 1970 draft, Sutter never played a game in the Senators organization. He in September 1971, signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs and played his first professional game as a member of the Gulf Coast Cubs in 1972 at age 19.
- He made his MLB debut on May 9, 1976, with the Cubs pitching one inning in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. His first career strikeout was Dan Driessen.
- Sutter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is one of seven relievers in the Hall with at least 300 saves. He collected his 300th save in the last game of his career on September 9, 1988. He was then pitching for the Atlanta Braves.
- Bruce was a six-time National League All-Star, making the team five straight years from 1977-81. He won or saved the All-Star game for the N.L. in four consecutive years (1978-81).
- Sutter had 22 saves in the minors. He did start two games in his minor league career. In his MLB career, all 661 games that he pitched were in relief. He is one of 47 relievers to pitch in 600 or more career games, all in relief.
- He led the National League in saves five times. He did it twice as a member of the Cubs and three times with the Cardinals.
- Sutter accumulated 133 career saves with the Cubs and 127 with the Cardinals. He is second on the Cubs all-time career saves list behind Lee Smith. He ranks fourth on the Cardinals all-time career list. Jason Isringhausen ranks #1 in that category for the Cards.
- Sutter had a career batting average of .088. He had six RBIs, no extra base hits, but did steal a base in a game.
- He had the most saves in his career against the Mets with 38. He gave up 77 home runs; the player who hit the most HRs off Sutter was a former Cub, Ryne Sandberg. The two, however, never played together with the Cubs. Sutter’s last year with the Cubs was 1980; Sandberg’s first year with the Cubs was in 1982.
- Sutter twice lost 10 or more games in a season. In 1978 he was 8-10 with the Cubs; in 1983 he was 9-10 with the Cardinals. He is one of 21 relief pitchers (80% or more of their games pitched as a reliever) to lose 10 or more games in multiple seasons. Former reliever Mike Marshall tops this list losing 10 or more games as a reliever in five seasons.
- Bruce Sutter pitched in one post-season, 1982. The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and then beat the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games to win the ‘82 World Series. Sutter pitched in six post-season games that season collecting two wins and three saves.