Sutton records 300th win
In 756 scheduled starts in the big leagues, Don Sutton never missed a turn.
But consistency was only part of Sutton’s resume. Excellence was his trademark.
On June 18, 1986, Sutton reached an historic milestone with his 300th career win. The two-hour, 13-minute contest between Sutton’s California Angels and the Texas Rangers featured just three strikeouts by Sutton over a complete-game, three-hit performance. He issued no walks, recorded 14 fly ball outs and faced just two batters over the minimum. It was a typical Sutton performance.
Sutton became just the 19th pitcher to reach the 300-win mark. It came in his 21st big league season – a year when Sutton went 15-11 for an Angels team that would win the American League West title.
Sutton was 41 years old at the time, yet he made each of his scheduled 34 starts that year and pitched 207 innings.
“That was the nicest, sweetest roar I’ve ever heard,” Sutton told the Associated Press after striking out the Rangers' Gary Ward to wrap up his 300th win in front of 37,044 fans at Anaheim Stadium.
Hall of Fame Membership
There is no simpler, and more essential, way to demonstrate your support than to sign on as a Museum Member.
Born April 2, 1945 in Clio, Ala., Sutton failed to dazzle pro scouts with his pitch speed as an amateur but attracted college scouts with his guts and determination on the mound. He signed with the Dodgers in 1964 after pitching for Gulf Coast Community College in Pensacola, Fla.
He debuted in the big leagues with the Dodgers on April 14, 1966, and went 12-12 as a rookie on a Dodgers team that won the National League pennant and featured future Hall of Fame teammates Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the same rotation.
Sutton was named to the first of four All-Star Games in 1972, won a career-best 21 games in 1976 and led the NL in earned-run average with a 2.20 mark in 1980. In his first 15 big league seasons – all with the Dodgers – he won 230 games, led the NL in WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) three times and went 5-3 in 10 postseason starts.
He also won the 1977 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award.
Sutton signed with the Astros as a free agent prior to the 1981 season, then was traded to the Brewers in a stretch-drive deal in 1982 as Milwaukee powered its way to its first American League pennant.
Sutton finished his career with stints with Oakland, California and another with the Dodgers, starting 16 games for Los Angeles in 1988 when the Dodgers won the World Series.
Sutton had entered the 1986 campaign with 295 wins, but didn’t pick up his first victory until May 7.
He reached 299 with a two-hit shutout against the White Sox on June 9, but got a no-decision in his next start when he allowed five runs over 6.1 innings against the Royals on June 14.
But on just three days rest, Sutton was sent to the mound by Angels manager Gene Mauch on June 18 for his date with destiny.
The understated Mauch congratulated Sutton after the game.
“Gene said: ‘Nice going. I got a thrill out of that too,’” Sutton told the AP. “I said: ‘I know you’re against this kind of thing, but you can hug me if you want.’
“He said: ‘This one time and this one time only.’”
Sutton finished his career with a record of 324-256, recording 3,574 strikeouts (seventh all-time) in 5,282.1 innings (seventh all-time).
Only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan started more big league games than Sutton.
“He’s been a great competitor,” said then-Rangers manager Bobby Valentine – a former teammate of Sutton with the Dodgers – after Sutton’s 300th win. “And he’s battled all the way and made the best of his ability.”
But on the night he reached the 300-win mark, Sutton was still planning for the future.
“Seven hundred starts, 5,000 innings… and 301 wins,” Sutton said of his new goals.
He reached them all – and then some.
Sutton was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum