During his Braves Hall of Fame induction speech, Don Sutton discussed how tech-savvy his broadcast partner Jim Powell is. He said Powell’s a master of modern stats and adds new perspectives to any face-value pitching analysis.
He also made a promise to his plugged-in partner.
“I give you my word that from this day on there will be more tweets from my side of the broadcast booth,” Sutton joked before unveiling an iPhone-sized cage with a plastic chirping bird inside.
“The problem with tweeting is once you start you can’t stop,” he said, laughing.
The Braves inducted Sutton and his sense of humor into their Hall of Fame on Monday afternoon at a luncheon held at the 755 Club in Turner Field.
Sutton started calling Braves games in 1989, when he immediately jumped from diamond to broadcast booth for TBS. He spent two seasons with the Nationals’ TV broadcast team in 2007-08 before returning to Atlanta and joining Powell as Atlanta’s radio broadcasters in 2009.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” Sutton said. “I can’t. … I feel like I’ve had the best seat in the house. I sit and watch the best people be good.”
It’s OK he couldn’t wrap his head around the induction. Braves legends who spoke at the ceremony, like Chipper Jones, Bobby Cox, Dale Murphy and Phil Niekro, did it for him.
“You realize you’re not in the house (when listening to Sutton call games),” Niekro said. “You’re in the ballpark, 10 rows behind the umpire. … Just close your eyes and you’re on the field. You’re one of the players. Good broadcasters don’t do that. Great ones do.”
Sutton is now a Hall of Fame broadcaster and player. He won 324 games over a 23-year career with the Dodgers, Astros, Brewers and Angels. He pitched in more than 750 games and ranks seventh in career strikeouts with 3,574.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, leading all inductees that year with 81.6 percent of voters electing him.
Jones and Murphy reveled about Sutton’s playing days during their onstage round-table discussion with Cox and Powell. Jones grew up a Dodgers fan and said he thought a win was nearly automatic with Sutton’s gold locks on the mound.
Murphy actually played against Sutton and was much less thrilled to see those locks.
“I enjoy him on the radio a lot more than I did facing him 60 feet, 6 inches away,” said Murphy, who revealed his career average against Sutton was .179.
Atlanta now has four broadcasters in its Hall of Fame — Sutton, Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson.
The newest inductee thanked his late predecessors and said he owes his success to them.
“Something I neglected to say out there and I should have was I hope it’s a good housekeeping seal of approval for the three guys who took me by the hand and walked me through what it means to be a broadcaster,” Sutton said after the luncheon. “So, I didn’t go in the Braves Hall of Fame today — Pete, Skip, Ernie and Don went into the Hall of Fame today.”
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