Don Sutton Remembered

On a personal note; Sutton’s years with the Angels happen to have coincided with the period of time I fell in love with the Halos and his acquisition coincided with a successful run to the top of 1986 American League West standings.

Angels Over the Pond founder, Editor and features writer, Matt Thomas, writes a View Over the Pond.

Last week the baseball world lost another Hall of Famer, before their time. Don Sutton was revered by the baseball world for his prowess and skill on the field, and his reputation as a broadcaster off it. On a personal note; Sutton’s years with the Angels happen to have coincided with the period of time I fell in love with the Halos and his acquisition coincided with a successful run to the top of 1986 American League West standings. That very same season Sutton reached the immense milestone of 300 career wins, joining a special group of select baseball players to do so. Today he sits notably tied with Angels legend Nolan Ryan at 14th on the all time wins list.

Having firmly established himself as a Los Angeles Dodgers living legend, with many years in the famous blue and white uniform, Sutton had found himself traded to the Oakland A’s (via brief stops with the Houston Astros then Milwaukee Brewers) but longed to return Southern California, to be closer to his family. The Halos offered him an escape and in his first full season, 1986, Sutton finished with a 3.74 ERA, playing an integral part in the Angels reaching the postseason for the first time since 1982, with the team sadly missing out on a trip to the World Series, to the Boston Red Sox.

Sutton will always be a Dodgers hero, but I for one am an Angels fan who looks back on a childhood where players like Sutton made the MLB stand out for all the right reasons.

At 41 years old in that 1986 season, to me as a child, Sutton looked really old, which makes it all the more remarkable that he posted stats that players years his junior would have been happy with, though I was too young to appreciate such things really, at the time. Passing away last week at just 75 years old, to me as an adult, seems no age. Quite frankly, I wish I had the energy to play a ball game in the local park every weekend, at a similar age to Sutton was when he was still performing at a very high level, game after game.

Sutton was the epitome of endurance; in his fifteen year initial stint with the Dodgers he averaged 249 innings per season. That staying power meant that by the time Sutton retired from his second stint with the Dodgers he had secured and amazing 3,574 strikeouts, seventh on the all-time list. If such a glittering and enduring career on the mound was not enough evidence of his staying power, Sutton went on to become an Atlanta Braves broadcasting legend, giving 26 years of service to them with the microphone. Sutton will always be a Dodgers hero, but I for one am an Angels fan who looks back on a childhood where players like Sutton made the MLB stand out for all the right reasons.

If you would like to share your own memories of how you became an Angels fan, about Britain’s own baseball heritage or your view on anything Angels related for Views Over the Pond please get in touch.

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