Bruce Sutter, Hall of Fame pitcher and World Series champion, dead at 69

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Bruce Sutter, a decorated Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher who helped the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series championship in 1982, died Thursday. He was 69.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cardinals released statements on Sutter’s passing on Friday.

“Bruce Sutter was so honored when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006, and since that time his kindness, his love for Cooperstown and his humility sparkled every time he returned to the Hall of Fame,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement.

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Pitcher Bruce Sutter, #42 of the Chicago Cubs, pitches during a circa mid 1970's Major League Baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Sutter played for the Cubs from 1976-80. 

Pitcher Bruce Sutter, #42 of the Chicago Cubs, pitches during a circa mid 1970’s Major League Baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Sutter played for the Cubs from 1976-80. 
(Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

“The Hall of Fame family will forever celebrate his achievements on the field and remember his passion for his family and friends. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Jamye, and his children.”

The Cardinals also sent their condolences in a tweet.

“We are saddened over the passing of Bruce Sutter,” the team said in a tweet. “Sutter was a dominant pitcher and a member of the ’82 World Series Championship team.

“He is a member of both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Our thoughts are with Bruce’s family and friends.”

Sutter was the pioneer of the split-finger fastball and was one of the most fearsome closers of his era.

He started his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1976 and was an All-Star in his second full season with the club, garnering his first All-Star selection and Cy Young and MVP award votes.

He would earn his first and only Cy Young award as a member of the Cubs in 1979. He led the league with 37 saves. He had a 2.22 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

Before the 1981 season, the Cubs traded Sutter to the Cardinals for Leon Durham, Ken Reiz and a player to be named later, which turned out to be Ty Waller.

Bruce Sutter, pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Bruce Sutter, pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
(Getty Images)

Sutter would help the Cardinals to a World Series in 1982 and later make his final All-Star appearance in 1984 and finished that season with a career-high 45 saves. He would play the final years of his career with the Atlanta Braves before calling it quits after the 1988 season.

“The Cubs mourn the passing of Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter,” the Cubs added in a tweet. “The 1979 NL Cy Young Award winner and a member of the Cubs Hall of Fame, Sutter pitched with Chicago from 1976-80, collecting 133 saves, second-most in franchise history.

“Deepest sympathy to the Sutter family.”

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, making him the first to enter Cooperstown without starting a game.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Sutter’s prominence foreshadowed the rise of the modern relief pitcher.

Former St. Louis Cardinals and Hall of Fame Bruce Sutter waves to the crowd during the 2018 home opener game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 5, 2018 at Bush Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Former St. Louis Cardinals and Hall of Fame Bruce Sutter waves to the crowd during the 2018 home opener game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 5, 2018 at Bush Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. 
(Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bruce Sutter, whose career was an incredible baseball success story. Bruce ascended from being a nondrafted free agent to the heights of Baseball by pioneering the split-fingered fastball. That pitch not only led him to the Major Leagues, but also made him a Cy Young Award winner with the Cubs and a World Series Champion with the 1982 Cardinals. Bruce was the first pitcher to reach the Hall of Fame without starting a game, and he was one of the key figures who foreshadowed how the use of relievers would evolve,” Manfred said.

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“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.” 

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