Bruce Sutter, a Hall of Fame relief pitcher and World Series champion, died on Thursday at the age of 69 after battling cancer.
Sutter, who largely pioneered the split-fingered fastball, was reportedly diagnosed with cancer and entered hospice care last week. He passed away surrounded by loving family, according to his son Chad.
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Although his career lasted a dozen years, the pitcher was predominately known for his work with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a six-time All-Star, a recipient of the 1979 Cy Young Award as the National League’s leading pitcher, and also the first pitcher in MLB history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame despite not starting in a major league game.
Given his significant impact on the sport, members of the baseball community are devastated to hear about the pitcher’s passing.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bruce Sutter, whose career was an incredible baseball success story,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shared in a statement issued by MLB.com.
“Bruce will be remembered as one of the best pitchers in the histories of two of our most historic franchises. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Bruce’s family, his friends, and his fans in Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, and throughout our game.”
Reflecting on Bruce Sutter’s historic split-fingered fastball
As family and friends of Sutter reflected on his dedication to the game, many honored his iconic split-fingered fastball, a pitch that helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I think he was sort of a precursor to what Mariano Rivera did with the cutter — Bruce did it with one pitch, and that was the split-fingered fastball,” Jim Kaat, a teammate of Sutter, said. “Even though hitters knew it was coming, they still weren’t able to hit it.”
“The irony of that is he struck out Gorman Thomas for the last out of the World Series on a high fastball that was just 84 miles per hour,” Kaat added.
Following his death, Chad Sutter made sure to emphasize that the Cardinals were a franchise the Hall of Famer held dear to his heart, even in old age. “Being a St. Louis Cardinal was an honor he cherished deeply,” Chad explained.
“To the Cardinals, his teammates and, most importantly, the greatest fans in all of sports, we thank you for all of the love and support over the years. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on through his family and through Cardinal Nation!”
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