Braves forever grateful for Sutton's impact

January 20th, 2021

ATLANTA -- constructed a Hall of Fame pitching career and then spent the second half of his extraordinary life further enriching the baseball world with the knowledge and wit he expressed as a broadcaster.

Sadly, Sutton’s great journey ended when he died in his sleep on Monday night.

“Don was as feared on the mound as he was beloved in the booth,” the Braves said in a statement. “A 300-game winner who was a four-time All-Star, Don brought an unmatched knowledge of the game and his sharp wit to his calls. But despite all the success, Don never lost his generous character or humble personality. It is with a heavy heart that we send our condolences and sympathies to Don’s entire family, including his wife Mary, his son Daron and his daughters Staci and Jacquie.”

The Braves had the great honor of employing Sutton as one of their broadcasters for nearly three full decades. He was a full-time member of Atlanta’s broadcast team from 1990-2006 and 2009-18. The only interruption occurred in 2007, when he began a two-year stint with the Nationals' broadcast team.

“Whatever his convictions were, he was never afraid to share them,” Braves broadcaster Chip Caray said. “I’m sure the audience appreciated that. I know I sure as hell did while working with him. I know there is a whole generation of Braves fans who learned about the art and craft of pitching when Don Sutton was at the microphone. I can’t think of a greater legacy than that.”

Sutton lost his left kidney after being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2002. Part of a lung was removed the following year. But along with continuing to undergo treatments during the final years of his broadcasting career, he maintained a full schedule until 2019, when he fractured his femur at the start of the season.

Unfortunately, he was never able to return to his broadcasting role and further extend a baseball career that dated back to when he signed with the Dodgers in 1964. He completed just one full Minor League season before beginning his 23-season big league career within a Los Angeles rotation that included future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

Sutton was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1998. More than 30 years after his retirement, he still owns Dodgers franchise records in wins and strikeouts. He also played for the Angels, Brewers, Astros and A’s before serving as a broadcaster for the Braves and Nationals.

“With apologies to Lou Gehrig, I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” Sutton said to conclude his Hall of Fame induction speech. “I have everything in life I’ve ever wanted.”

Sutton certainly advanced far beyond the humble surroundings he was introduced to when he was born in Clio, Ala., in 1945. His parents, both teenage sharecroppers at the time of his birth, taught him the value of a strong work ethic.

After returning to the Braves’ booth in 2009, Sutton carried on the tradition of his mentors -- Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson Sr. Sutton's entrance to the team’s Hall of Fame in 2015 was a testament to the success he had with his second baseball career.

"When I started with the Dodgers, with those guys, I won the lottery," Sutton said during his induction speech. "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 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."