On January 19th, on the eve of President Biden's inauguration, baseball lost its ninth Hall of Famer since April when Don Sutton, 75, died of cancer in Rancho Mirage, California.
In a 23-year career, Sutton posted a 324-256 won-lost record with a 3.26 ERA.
He threw 178 complete games with 58 shutouts.
His walk-strikeout ratio was solid, 1343:3574. Innings pitched ratio to hits were less impressive, 5282:4692. He won 15 games or more in 15 seasons, including one 20-win season.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 during his fifth year of eligibility.
There are some remarkable similarities in the careers of Sutton and Gaylord Perry, elected in 1976, and not just because both were accused of doctoring the baseball.
In a 22-year career, culminating in a 1976 enshrinement in Cooperstown, Gaylord went 314-265 with a 3.10 ERA and an impressive BB-K ratio: 1379-3534. Hits-IP not as impressive 5351:4938. 303 CG astounding, 53 shutouts.
Sutton made his post-career mark as an able announcer for the Atlanta Braves.
I once had a nice conversation with him about his pennant-winning victory over Jim Palmer and the Orioles in the final game of the 1982 season.
I told him that I was sitting in the outfield nosebleed sections of Baltimore Memorial Stadium. I saw him and Palmer and Sutton shake hands before they warmed up in their separate bullpens.
Sutton remembered that handshake and asked if I had a photo of it. Unfortunately I did not, but I'm happy that the moment formed a baseball memory that has lingered for us both.
Check out "To A Hall of Famer, Pitching Was an 'Easy Job," Tyler Kepner's very moving remembrance of Sutton in the January 21 New York Times. He never forgot how hard his father worked to support the family in the Florida panhandle.
This coming Tuesday January 26th the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results of this year's voting for enshrinement in Cooperstown. It is possible that no new members will be elected to join Derek Jeter and Larry Walker and Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller. They were voted in last year but the induction was delayed because of the pandemic.
Before I leave, here are some TCM viewing tips, the old movie station that has kept me grounded during the Trump years and I expect will do the same in the future.
Sat January 23 at noon - "Black Legion" 1937 - Humphrey Bogart as a Detroit
auto worker who misses on a promotion and joins a nativist group. Still relevant for obvious reasons.
8p "Out of the Past" 1947 - this week's "Essential", a classic noir with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer directed by Jacques Tourneur.
12M - repeated Sun on 10A - "Born to Kill" 1947 Lawrence Tierney who takes Noir savagery to new heights/meaning lows. Claire Trevor hangs on for dear life. With Walter Slezak as a private detective.
Wed Jan 27 145p "Trouble Along the Way" 1953 John Wayne as small town football coach trying to save a church. With Donna Reed and Charles Coburn. The film where the oft-used phrase actually comes from, "Winning is the only thing".
Th Jan 28 8p "The Heiress" 1949 based on a Henry James story with unforgettable performances by Olivia DeHavilland and Montgomery Clift
Fr Jan 29 8p "Citizen Kane" 1941 I don't think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread - forgive hoary metaphor - but it certainly was influential.
S Jan 30 8p "The Music Man" 1962 this week's "Essential" with Robert Preston and Paul Ford as the bedraggled Mayor of the town - not longer after his memorable take as Colonel Hall trying to deal with Phil Silvers' Ernie Bilko
Su Jan 31 midnight repeated at 10A "The Killers" 1964 with Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, directed by Don Siegel. Past Noir's heyday but sure looks appealing.
Unifying the country may be impossible and not particularly desirable as long as one minority is armed and dangerous. After the events of January 6th we can't say that with assurance.
Let's just be glad that Trump was a one-term President and that an adult is now in charge or at least tries to make governing for all the people again a possibility, one of his Biden's and my favorite words.
That's all now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it!