Don Sutton made his major league debut on April 14, 1966, just 12 days after his 21st birthday. That season he pitched alongside Dodger greats Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
The four-man rotation of ’66 was rounded out by Claude Osteen, a two-time all star and 196-game winner. The quartet started 154 of the Dodgers’ 162 games. Joe Moeller started the other eight.
Sutton won 12 games in his rookie season to begin a run of a dozen straight years with double-digit win totals. The model of consistency, the durable right-hander averaged 33 started per season in his 23-year career that went from 1966-1988.
Though he reached the 20-win mark only once, Sutton tallied 15 or more wins in 12 seasons. Cooperstown usually opens its doors to a pitcher with 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. Sutton finished his career with 324 victories and 3,574 strikeouts – one of only pitchers to break both milestones.
He threw 58 shutouts, five one-hitters, and ten two-hitters. Sutton pitched 16 years for the Dodgers, three each for the Angles and Brewers, two for the Astros, and one for the A’s. For his work, Sutton was elected to the Hall in 1998.
In this handwritten letter on Dodger letterhead, Sutton opines about the choice of the cap in his Hall of Fame plaque. The 324-game winner writes, “Jim, Although I played for a few teams, I’m very proud that it’s a Dodger cap in Cooperstown. Don Sutton 8-14-99”.
For Sutton fans August 14th is a highlight. One year to the day before he signed this, Sutton’s #20 was retired in a ceremony at Dodgers Stadium.