St. Louis Cardinals: Remembering Bruce Sutter’s impact in 1982.

ST.LOUIS, MO - MAY 1983: Bruce Sutter #42 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching to the Atlanta Braves on May 22, 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
ST.LOUIS, MO - MAY 1983: Bruce Sutter #42 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching to the Atlanta Braves on May 22, 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

Bruce Sutter’s legendary split finger fastball made MLB history. Without it, the St. Louis Cardinals don’t win the 1982 World Series.

On Thursday, Bruce Sutter passed away of cancer at the age of 69. The Baseball Hall of Famer became a legend with two franchises, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the Cubs, he won an NL Cy Young Award. However, it was in 1982 with the Cardinals, he made his biggest impact of his career. The right handed closer led the NL with 36 saves and got the final out of the World Series.

Be clear, Sutter had better years than 1982. In 1977 with the Cubs, he had an ERA of 1.34. In 1979, he won the NL Cy Young with 37 saves and an ERA of 2.22.  With the Cardinals, his best year was in 1984, when he set an NL record with 45 saves and had a 1.54 ERA.

But for Cardinal fans, it was 1982 that Sutter will always live in their memories. Likely, it is Game 7 of the World Series which will never be forgotten.

The World Series final out.

In Game 7, Sutter came to the mound in the eighth inning with the impending approach of the  heart of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. Sutter set down in order Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, and Cecil Cooper.

Finally in the ninth, he got two ground outs and then struck out Gorman Thomas with an outside fastball. Then in  possibly the most famous scene of the 1982 season, Catcher Darrell Porter jumped into Sutter’s arms, with teammates, fans, and police soon following.

Sutter said after the game, “Darrell and I just rolled around on the bottom of the pile together.  I’ll be okay, I’ve got four months to heal.”

The stretch run in ’82.

As much fun as the final out in the World Series was, we shouldn’t forget Bruce Sutter’s August and September in 1982. In August, Sutter had an 0.87 ERA with nine saves, and in September, he had an 1.93 ERA with six saves.

A clutch moment for Sutter was on September 14th against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals entered that game trailing the Phillies by a half game for the division lead. Sutter was facing future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in the eighth with one out and bases loaded. Sutter was induced Schmidt into a inning ending double play.

The Cardinals would win the game 2-0, and followed up with an eight game winning streak. They locked up their first ever division title on September 27th.

Final Thoughts.

For many of us, 1982 is a special year. Why? The Cardinals had not won any type of championship since the NL Pennant in 1968. It had been 14 long and frustrating years. Since the last World Championship in 1967, it had been 15 years.

Bruce Sutter’s split finger fastball was an important piece of the Cardinal spoke in 1982. Without it, the Cardinals don’t win, or even get to that memorable World Series.

I have four special memories of that year which will always stay with me. Being at opening day and seeing Ozzie do his backflip for the first time for Cardinal fans, Glenn Brummer stealing home on August 22, Willie McGee’s leaping catch in game 3 of the World Series to rob Gorman Thomas of a home run, and Porter leaping into Sutter’s arms after the final out in Game 7.

Sutter is now the 6th member to the ’82 World Championship team to pass. He now joins Darrell Porter, David Green, Joaquin Andujar, Bob Forsch, and Mark Littell.

God speed, Bruce.

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