Cardinals pay tribute to Sutter

Cardinals pay tribute to Sutter, retire number

ST. LOUIS -- In a fitting scene for a man who took the ball under any and all circumstances, the Cardinals honored Bruce Sutter on Sunday. The ceremony took place despite persistent rain that ultimately forced the cancellation of St. Louis' scheduled game against the Giants.

Technically, Sutter's number was already retired, since he wore the same 42 that has been taken out of service MLB-wide in honor of Jackie Robinson. But in the retired-number displays in left field and above right-center field at Busch Stadium, Sutter's name was added to Robinson's, and his image now appears alongside other Cardinals greats on the left-field wall.

"With Jackie as 42, I didn't know how they were going to do it," Sutter said. "It's a great honor to be associated with him. He was a better player and did a lot more for baseball than I ever did."

Sutter pitched through shoulder pain for much of his career, but was always willing to take the mound to close out a win. He racked up 300 saves, including 127 in four seasons with the Redbirds. He closed out the 1982 World Series, the last title won by St. Louis.

"I just want to tell you all how happy I was when I got that call that day and I was going in [the Hall of Fame] as a St. Louis Cardinal," Sutter told the sellout crowd. "Every player that has put on a St. Louis Cardinals uniform has truly been blessed to be able to come out here and play in front of the greatest fans in the world."

Attending the ceremony Sunday were his sons, Chad, Josh and Ben, former teammate Bob Forsch and manager Whitey Herzog. Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. presented Sutter with an engraved Rolex watch, and Sutter also received a framed No. 42 jersey.

"This would be up there with Cooperstown," Sutter said of being honored in St. Louis. The World Series, though, would always be No. 1.

"It's so special to be remembered here in my home park. See how long they stayed today? They wanted to see baseball. They are terrific fans and I always loved to play in St. Louis."

In a career that spanned from 1976-1988, Sutter pitched 1,042 1/3 innings. Five times he topped 100 innings in a season while also recording at least 28 saves, and in another year, he had 99 innings and 27 saves.

Sutter won the National League Cy Young Award as a Cub in 1979 and was four times named the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.

"That's pretty amazing, when you look at it, with what today's game is," said Cardinals reliever Braden Looper. "He definitely deserves it and I'm definitely proud for him."

The right-hander is the 14th man to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after pitching for St. Louis. He's the ninth Cardinals player to have his number retired -- along with Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Ken Boyer, Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson.

The number does not count Robinson, former owner Gussie Busch (for whom No. 85 is retired) or Rogers Hornsby. The latter's name hangs with a Cardinals logo -- for Hornsby didn't wear a number when he played.

"It's always great to see somebody like that be recognized," said Schoendienst. "I was glad to see him get in."

In addition to the assorted well-wishers on the field with Sutter, the ceremony was attended by quite a few other old teammates -- including one of his best friends in baseball. Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow was a Sutter teammate in the Minors and when both were young pitchers with the Cubs in the 1970s.

"There was so much gratification because he's so deserving," Krukow said. "Because he had to wait 13 years [for induction] was tough for me. He is so deserving, one of the great influences in the clubhouse that I was ever around my whole career. He was remarkable. I'm very satisfied."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.