Former Braves' reliever Bruce Sutter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday, receiving 76.9 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Sutter will be the only inductee late this summer in Cooperstown. Missing out was Jim Rice, who finished second with 337 of the 390 votes needed for election, followed by Rich Gossage with 336 votes. Andre Dawson (61%) and Bert Blyleven (53.3%) were the only other players to receive half of the votes needed for election.
Braves' icon Dale Murphy continued to pay for falling two home runs short of 400 for his career. Murphy received only 56 votes this year.
Sutter becomes the fourth reliever elected to the Hall of Fame, following Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, and Dennis Eckersley. He's the first pitcher to never start a game ever elected. This was the 13th time Sutter was on the ballot.
Sutter started his career with the Cubs in 1976 and for the next nine seasons was the most dominating closer in baseball. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1981 and helped St. Louis win the 1982 World Series. From 1976-1984, Sutter recorded 260 saves and had a 2.54 ERA.
After a fantastic 1984 season, in which he saved 45 games and had an ERA of 1.54 with St. Louis, he signed a massive six-year, $10.125 million dollar contract in October of 1984. At the time of the deal, the Atlanta Constitution reported that with deferred payments the deal could be worth $46.8 million dollars over a 36-year period.
But Sutter was never a premier pitcher with the Braves, as he continually battled shoulder trouble. He pitched in 50 games his first season in Atlanta, saving only 23 and registering a 4.48 ERA. Sutter had his first shoulder surgery on December 12, 1985, but came back too quickly and was shut down on May 27th of the following season.
Sutter then missed the rest of the 1986 season and all of the 1987 campaign. Sutter bounced back again to start the 1988 season, but pitched in only 38 games, saving 14. He would then have more shoulder surgery and never pitch again.
In three seasons with Atlanta, Sutter pitched in 112 games, had 40 saves, and an ERA of 4.56.
But there is no denying his dominance with the Cubs and Cardinals, and that's what got him into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a dominating reliever, with a nasty split-fingered pitch that revolutionized the game.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at email@example.com.
Former Brave Sutter Elected to Hall of Fame
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