Sutton inducted into Braves Hall of Fame
Longtime Atlanta announcer has been on air since 1989
ATLANTA -- When Don Sutton made the successful transition from legendary pitcher to beloved broadcaster, he likened the opportunity to work alongside Ernie Johnson Sr., Pete Van Wieren and Skip Caray to the good fortune he had when he broke into the Major Leagues as part of a Dodgers rotation that featured Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
"When I started with the Dodgers with those guys, I won the lottery," Sutton said. "Then, to start in broadcasting with the same sort of people, guys that were at that level and were very patient with me, there was no doubt in my mind [that] there was no other place I could have gone, or no other time I could have gone somewhere that would have been as helpful to me in my career."
Nearly three decades after joining the TBS broadcast team that featured Johnson, Van Wieren and Caray, Sutton now finds himself bestowed with the same honor that each of them once received. The 300-game winner became the latest inductee to the Braves Hall of Fame on Monday afternoon.
"It never entered my mind that my name would be [included among Braves Hall of Famers]," Sutton said. "All I ever thought about was my job, which was to make sure you knew about those names that were on that list. This is a wonderful and terrific surprise, one that I will always treasure."
Sutton will spend this upcoming weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., savoring the honor he earned when he was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1998. The 324 wins he garnered as a talented, savvy pitcher has provided him this annual opportunity to spend July's final weekend rubbing elbows and sharing laughs with the other select few who are also considered baseball's elite.
But this latest honor provided by the Braves can be cherished in its own unique way, because it recognizes that Sutton did indeed achieve his goal -- to be more than just another jock behind the microphone -- once he joined the media world as a member of the Braves' TBS broadcast team in 1989.
"Whatever has happened, I owe to Ernie Johnson," Sutton said of the highly regarded broadcaster, who brought Van Wieren and Caray to the Braves' broadcast team in 1976 and later convinced TBS to give Sutton, an Alabama native, a chance to come back home to begin the next phase in his baseball career.
Sutton is in the midst of his 25th season with the Braves as either a television or radio broadcaster. He left Atlanta after the 2006 season for a two-season stint as a member of the Nationals' broadcast team, then returned to the Braves in '09.
Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy and Ted Turner were among the other Braves Hall of Famers present for Monday's event.
"I can't imagine how hard that would be to be somebody who didn't play for the Braves and then become a Braves broadcaster who is embraced so well by the people in this part of this country," Braves broadcaster Chip Caray said. "Again, I think that is a great testament to Don as a person, his family and his love of this organization. As I've said before, when you turn the game on the radio, you know it's Don, and that is the ultimate compliment. Everyone wants to know that their guy is doing the game."