Rick Sutcliffe

A photo of Rick Sutcliffe.

Richard Lee Sutcliffe (born June 21, 1956 in Independence, Missouri) is a former Major League Baseball starting pitcher and current television sportscaster, nicknamed "The Red Baron" for his red hair and beard.

A right-hander, Sutcliffe was a three-time All-Star. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1979 and the National League Cy Young Award in 1984.

MLB careerEdit

Early years and Rookie of the YearEdit

After a couple of cups of coffee in 1976 and 1978, Sutcliffe broke into the majors in 1979. He won 17 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the first of four consecutive Rookies of the Year for the Dodgers from 1979–1982 (Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, and Steve Sax were the others). The Dodgers traded Sutcliffe to the Cleveland Indians for Jorge Orta, a journeyman outfielder.

Chicago CubsEdit

Sutcliffe won 31 games over the course of the next two seasons for Cleveland and led the American League in earned run average in 1982. In mid-1984, Cleveland traded a struggling Sutcliffe to the Chicago Cubs for Mel Hall and Joe Carter. Sutcliffe rebounded and won 16 games for the Cubs while losing only one, helping them to the division championship. On October 2, 1984, he started the first game of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres, giving up two hits and no runs, gaining not only the victory, but also hit a home run in the third inning.[1] Five days later, Sutcliffe pitched the final game of the series at Jack Murphy Stadium, but posted the loss after giving up four runs in the seventh inning.[2]

Rick won the Cy-Young Award with a unanimous vote, beating out Dwight Gooden and Bruce Sutter[3] He also finished fourth in the league MVP voting. When he re-signed with the Cubs as a free agent the following year, his contract briefly made him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.

Sutcliffe started the 1985 season strong, going 5-3 in his first eight starts, including two complete game shutouts. A hamstring pull on May 19 limited his starts for the year, followed by a series of arm injuries limited Sutcliffe's effectiveness over the next two seasons. In 1987, he bounced back to win 18 games and finished second in the league's Cy Young voting.

In 1989, Sutcliffe won 16 games and made his final All-Star appearance, where he was managed once again by Tommy Lasorda. He also helped the Cubs to another division title, but the Cubs lost to the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.

Later yearsEdit

Recurring arm injuries caused Sutcliffe to miss most of the 1990 and 1991 seasons and the Cubs did not offer him a contract for the next season. Signing with the Baltimore Orioles, Sutcliffe went 16–15 and 10–10 in 1992 and 1993, starting the first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He wound up his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1994, going 6-4 in an injury-plagued season. He retired with a career record of 171–139, with an ERA of 4.08. He holds the unique distinction of having won each of the following league awards, once each, and each in a different season: Rookie of the Year (1979), Cy Young Award (1984), ERA leader (1982), and Wins leader (1987).


After his retirement from baseball, Sutcliffe became a color commentator for the San Diego Padres on Channel 4 San Diego (1997–2004) and ESPN (1998–present), as well as a minor-league pitching coach in the San Diego Padres system for a couple of seasons. He also broadcasts the World Series and the ALCS for MLB International, where he is teamed with Dave O'Brien, his usual ESPN partner.

On March 13, 2008, Sutcliffe was diagnosed with "curable and maintainable" colon cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in his hometown of Kansas City during the spring of 2008 and returned to work with ESPN on May 21, 2008. He continues to maintain a positive attitude and credits this to his faith in Jesus, strong family encouragement, incredible friends and immense support all over the world. As a result of his trials, he has shown great interest in motivational speaking about overcoming trials through your faith for groups such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Channel 4 IncidentEdit

On May 10, 2006, Sutcliffe, while seemingly under the influence of alcohol, unexpectedly entered the Channel 4 San Diego broadcast booth during a game between the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers.[4] Initially unaware of Sutcliffe's condition, Padres broadcasters Matt Vasgersian and Mark Grant welcomed Sutcliffe into the broadcast booth and began an on-air discussion with him. After a time, Sutcliffe's comments became meandering and nonsensical, with his words sounding slurred. Sutcliffe famously stated in the drunken interview that his daughter was going to Africa with George Clooney to, "solve that thing." After Grant and Vasgersian were unsuccessful in attempts to either conclude the interview or return Sutcliffe's comments to the topic of the baseball game, the production crew was forced to abruptly cut off Sutcliffe's microphone.

Craig Nichols, general manager of Channel 4 called the incident "embarrassing"[4] for both the broadcasters and the viewers. He criticized Sutcliffe as having “used remarkably poor judgment." On May 11th, Sutcliffe issued an apology[5] through ESPN. In his statement, he denied having driven under the influence of alcohol during the evening, but neither directly confirmed nor denied that he had been inebriated at the time of his interview. He did, however, acknowledge that he had not been "in optimum condition to go on live television" and said that he regretted his "lapse in judgment" in having done so.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by:
Bob Horner
National League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by:
Steve Howe
Preceded by:
Sammy Stewart
American League ERA Champion
Succeeded by:
Rick Honeycutt
Preceded by:
John Denny
National League Cy Young Award
Succeeded by:
Dwight Gooden
Preceded by:
Fernando Valenzuela
National League Wins Champion
Succeeded by:
Orel Hershiser & Danny Jackson
Preceded by:
George Brett
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Succeeded by:
Buddy Bell
Preceded by:
Ray Knight
NL Comeback Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
Tim Leary
Preceded by:
José Guzmán
AL Comeback Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
Bo Jackson
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