Dodgers Hall of Famer Don Sutton passes away in latest gut punch
By Adam Weinrib
Baseball Hall of Famer and standout Dodgers righty Don Sutton passed away Monday night, according to his son.
Simply because the calendar flipped its final, cursed page away from 2020 does not mean the mounting tragedy of Baseball Hall of Fame losses has ceased to pile upon itself.
Just over two weeks into the new year, and following a passage around the sun pockmarked by innumerable tragedies, highlighted in part by the deaths of seven Hall of Fame honorees, the Dodgers have already lost two franchise icons in 2021.
Tommy Lasorda’s passing at the start of year left a Dodger Blue hole in the heart of every fan, his loss standing in for a bygone era of Hollywood royalty.
Sadly, we must report that hurt has only been exacerbated, as fellow Dodgers legend Don Sutton passed away overnight on Monday, as reported by his son Daron, a venerated broadcaster.
A 300-game winner, Sutton’s 20 is the most recent number retired at Dodger Stadium.
Sutton, a marathon man who felt overlooked in the Hall’s annals before finally meriting election in 1998, pitched for the Dodgers from his rookie year of 1966 through 1980, returning to finish his career in 1988 at the age of 43.
Unfairly viewed through the Hall of Fame lens as a “compiler,” Sutton’s 324 victories were actually a mark of his extreme consistency, rather than some denigration of his contributions. In a modern lens in which “pitcher losses” have been deemphasized, his career would’ve likely been assessed much differently, and his path to induction would’ve been easier.
Luckily, he came to be appreciated before too much time had passed.
Sutton’s franchise numbers are sparkling; he was a four-time All-Star in Los Angeles, and five times consecutively finished in the top five of Cy Young voting from 1972-1976.
Many will also recognize Sutton as a key member of the 1982 American League champion Milwaukee Brewers; some will recognize him for his curly mop-top, always bounding during long, hot summers in Los Angeles.
All should recognize Sutton as one of the game’s greats, a dominant force for two decades, and another massive name lost far too soon, as 2021 continues to look a lot like its grim predecessor.