By Robert Kimes / Indianapolis Indians
As the Indianapolis Indians continue their series against the Durham Bulls this weekend, Victory Field prepares to host Hall-of-Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter on Saturday, June 14.
Inducted into Cooperstown in 2006 as a St. Louis Cardinal, Sutter was one of the most dominant relief pitchers and closers in the majors during the late 1970s and through the ’80s. Despite struggling to make an MLB roster early in his career, Sutter went on to win the 1979 Cy Young Award, earn the save in Game 7 of the Cardinals’ 1982 World Series Championship and compile 300 saves with a 2.84 ERA over his 12-year career between the Chicago Cubs, Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves (1976-86, 1988). While the six-time All-Star posted impressive stats, his reputation as a pioneer in baseball may have perhaps been his biggest legacy.
A split-finger savant, Bruce Sutter’s ability to turn the fork ball variation into his signature pitch has encouraged many stars since the mid-1980s – from Roger Clemens to Masahiro Tanaka – to add the pitch to their repertoire. Sutter’s nearly untouchable split finger fastball also helped pave the way for the modern closer, as his ability to shut down hitters led managers to rely on his arm in the 8th and 9th innings of games. Pitching in a time where pitching roles were much less specialized than today’s game, Sutter’s exclusive late-inning appearances are credited with helping create the role of the closer. In fact, along with becoming the first player to record 45 saves in a single season, Sutter also became the first Hall of Fame pitcher to be enshrined in Cooperstown without ever making a start in a major league game.
Fans can see Hall-of-Famer in action on this upcoming Signature Saturday, where instead of closing out the game, Sutter will kick off the Indians’ contest by throwing out a ceremonial first pitch. The all-time great hurler will also host an autograph session in the PNC Plaza (located in center field) for the first 500 fans through Victory Field’s turnstiles. Gates will open early at 5:00 p.m. on June 14 for the autograph session.