Is There More than a Bobble Head in Don Sutton’s Future?

After receiving yesterday’s press release from Garrett Thomas of the Dodgers PR department announcing that the Dodgers have decided on Don Sutton as their final bobble head giveaway for the upcoming 2013 season, several of our ThinkBlueLA regulars got into a discussion about Sutton over on the ThinkBlueLA forum. The discussion wasn’t based on Sutton’s Hall of Fame baseball career but rather on his extremely successful broadcasting career with the Atlanta Braves organization – the same Atlanta Braves organization where current Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten cut his teeth.

Don Sutton is the Dodgers all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, innings pitcher and several other franchise records. (Photo courtesy of The Sporting News)

Hall of Famer Don Sutton made his major league debut on April 14, 1966, the same day that soon-to-be Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was born. (Photo courtesy of The Sporting News)

Having had the pleasure of watching Don Sutton during his remarkable career (which was recently profiled by Evan Bladh over on the Opinion of Kingman’s Performance blog site), I was extremely pleased that the Dodgers new (and dialed in) ownership group had the sense to finally and rightfully honor one of the greatest Dodgers of all time – one who the previous owner had completely ignored while taking the greatest franchise in baseball history down the toilet.

As a SiriusXM subscriber for nearly a decade, I have had the opportunity to listen to Don Sutton during several of his Braves broadcasts and, quite frankly, he is very good. He never comes across as egotistical or a know-it-all (or a know-nothing-at-all like one of the Dodgers part-time television broadcasters – I’ll leave it at that). Instead, Sutton comes across as a humble, intelligent and knowledgeable professional who is both easy and pleasant to listen to – characteristics that seem to be lacking in many of today’s broadcasters.

Sutton, a cancer survivor, prepares for his Atlanta Braves radio broadcast. (Photo credit - Ben Gray)

Sutton, a cancer survivor, prepares for his Atlanta Braves radio broadcast.
(Photo credit – Ben Gray)

Our discussion on the forum focused on that dreadful day when Vin Scully decides to finally hang up his Hall of Fame microphone to enjoy the retirement that he so rightfully deserves, and more so on who would occupy his chair (since no one will ever replace him) as the new Dodgers everyday television broadcaster.

As my analytical (and sometimes scatterbrained) mind works, I began connecting some dots with all of this:

  • Don Sutton – the former Dodger
  • Don Sutton – the Hall of Famer
  • Don Sutton – whose number was retired by the Dodgers in 1998
  • Don Sutton – a current (and very good) broadcaster with the Atlanta Braves
  • Stan Kasten – a former Atlanta Braves executive and a very good friend of Sutton
  • Stan Kasten – the current Dodgers president and CEO
  • Vin Scully – who will most likely retire at the end of the 2013 season
  • Time Warner Cable – which will kickoff it’s inaugural season as the Dodgers’ new TV rights holder in 2014
  • Sandy Koufax – who was recently brought back into the Dodgers organization joining many other former Dodgers
  • A Don Sutton bobble head giveaway night on Thursday night, June 6 when the Braves are in town to face the Dodgers (in case you missed the date)

When you put all of these things together, is it possible that Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and the rest of the Guggenheim Baseball Management group are perhaps trying to lure Don Sutton into Vin Scully’s vacant chair if/when Scully retires, thus bringing Sutton back into the Dodger family where he rightfully belongs? I could certainly think of a lot worse possibilities. Granted, when Vinny finally does retire, he will undoubtedly be replaced with a broadcasting duo rather than a solo broadcaster and a Don Sutton/Rick Monday or Don Sutton/Jim Watson duo wouldn’t be bad at all, if you get my drift.

As a point of information, Scully was asked why he prefers to work alone, something that is extremely rare these days and I believe that Scully is quite possibly the only broadcaster currently doing so. Scully answered as only Vin Scully can – he said that when there are two (or more) broadcasters in the booth, they inevitability and invariably end up talking to each other during the broadcast instead of talking directly to the listeners/viewers. He added that this was how his predecessor, fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber worked, and as we all know, it was Red who taught Vinny the craft. Even to this day, Scully frequently talks of his love and respect for Barber and that he has spent his entire broadcasting career trying to emulate Red. (I hate to break the news to you Vinny, but you far surpassed the great Red Barber decades ago).

Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber handed over his microphone to a young 23-year-old Vin Scully in 1950. (AP Photos)

Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber handed over his microphone to a young 23-year-old Vin Scully in 1950. Who will Vin Scully hand his to?
(AP Photos)

Please keep in mind that all of this is pure speculation on my part and there is absolutely nothing to even remotely suggest that this will happen. Sutton is undoubtedly under contract with the Braves organization (or their radio/television affiliate), so such a move might not even be possible. But with all of this in mind, perhaps there is more to Don Sutton bobble head night than just a bobble head.

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6 Responses to “Is There More than a Bobble Head in Don Sutton’s Future?”

  1. Evan Bladh says:

    I think I’m happier about the Sutton bobble head announcement more than any other bobble head promotion that the organization has ever announced before. Mainly because Sutton has not been treated with the respect he deserves by the previous Dodger ownership groups. He needs to be back with this organization.

    I can’t find the article, but years ago, I believe during the Fox years, a Dodger employee challenged Sutton about being on the Field during pre-game B.P. because he apparently didn’t have his press credentials visibly displayed. Sutton told the guy that he had spent more innings on that mound than any other player ever and that the #20 displayed out in the pavilions represented him. It was an embarrassing episode and some Dodger coaches had to explain to the enforcer that he was okay to be there.

    I know we’re all speculating about Don returning and all, but if I ever get the chance, that’s one of the first questions I’d have for Stan Kasten. He probably will dodge the answer due to Sutton’s contractual obligations with the Braves, but I have to believe if Kasten sought permission to bring Don back to the Dodgers as a broadcaster, the Braves would grant him permission to interview for the job. The same thing happened in 1987 with the Dodgers and Drysdale. O’Malley sought permission from Sox owner Reinsdorf to speak with Don, and a day or two later, he was a Dodger again.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      According to the Braves website, Sutton returned to the Braves broadcast booth in 2009 which means that 2013 will be his 5th season back with them. The website makes no mention of when his contract with them is up, but five years is a nice round number, if you know what I mean.

      If there is anything such as “turnabout is fair play,” it was (then) Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten who allowed Sutton out of his 4-year contract with the Washington Nationals after only two years to return to Atlanta when longtime Braves broadcaster Skip Carey died and fellow longtime broadcaster Pete Van Wieren retired. Desperate for help, the Braves received permission from Kasten to negotiate with Sutton and subsequently his approval to allow Don to opt out of his contract and return to Atlanta, where he joined newcomer Jim Powell.

      Sutton was the Nationals TV broadcaster but has always preferred doing radio play-by-play over television play-by-play.

      I suspect that Don and Stan will be spending a little time together when the Braves arrive at Dodger Stadium in June… so you just never know, do you?

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Very interesting take Ron. Sounds almost as if the planets are aligning. A lot of details you have included surely seem to add up.

    I have heard Don a Braves broadcasts. He is knowledgeable, doesn’t talk the viewers to death and does not make himself bigger than the game. Very modest about his career accomplishments.

  3. MFGRREP says:

    He would be a great choice, especially with Rick Monday next to him.

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