Inside Pitch

Aug. 10, 1988: Sutton's career comes to an end


August 8, 2011

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – In each of his five big league stops, Don Sutton proved to be a winner.

But 23 years ago this week, the future Hall of Famer's career ended where it began.

Don Sutton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

On Aug. 10, 1988, the Dodgers released Sutton after a 23-year big league pitching career. The durable right-hander, who never missed a turn in the rotation, is one of 24 members of Major League Baseball's illustrious 300-win club. He remains the Los Angeles Dodgers all-time leader in wins (233), losses (181), appearances (550), starts (533), innings pitched (3,816 1/3), strikeouts (2,696) and shutouts (52).

Sutton spent the first 15 seasons of his career with the Dodgers. After becoming a free agent in 1980, Sutton spent the next seven seasons with four different teams, the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics and California Angels.

The Angels released Sutton after the 1987 season. At age 42, he signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers.

In August 1988, Sutton was released by the Dodgers. That season, Sutton finished with record of 3-6 and a 3.92 ERA in 16 starts. He also spent several weeks on the disabled list with a sprained elbow.

His contributions that season, however, helped the Dodgers win the National League West title. Los Angeles went on to win the World Series against the Oakland A's.

"I think I can still pitch," Sutton said at the time of his release. "It's a business, a wonderful business. I had no problem with the explanation. The pitching staff is going in a different direction."

At the time of his release from the Dodgers, Sutton was the winningest active pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Sutton had all of his career-best seasons with the Dodgers, 21 wins (1976), 2.21 ERA (1980), 293 innings pitched (1969), 40 starts (1974), 41 games (1969), 217 strikeouts (1969) and 18 complete games (1972).

In 1998, his fifth year of eligibility, Sutton was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Sutton received 81.6 percent of BBWAA votes.

"When you gave him the ball, you knew one thing – your pitcher was going to give you everything he had," former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "You win as many games as he did – to me, that should be automatic Hall of Fame."

Sutton retired with a career record of 324 wins and 256 losses. He is seventh on Major League Baseball's list of all-time strikeout leaders with 3,574. Following Sutton's Hall of Fame induction in 1998, the Dodgers retired his number 20.

Nicole Pappas was the public relations intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program

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