Each week (or so) I will profile various redheads who paved the way for our own Thunder Matt. These men and women opened doors (often times kicking them in due to their fiery tempers) that would have otherwise kept Thunder Matt toiling in Independent Baseball leagues, shagging fly balls in Newark and frequenting seedy hotels. We tip our Cubs hats to these fair-skinned pioneers.
Today's Redhead: Rick Sutcliffe
Rick was born on June 21st, 1956 in Independence, MO. When he came out of his mother's womb, he had a flaming red beard and t-shirt that said 'Fuck You Tommy Lasorda'. Rumor has it that he was also drunk.
After breaking into the majors with the Dodgers in 1979, "Sutty" won Rookie of the Year, but later overturned chairs in Tommy Lasorda's office after being left off the postseason roster (for arguably the greatest and sexiest pitcher off all-time, Fernando Valenzuela). So ended his tenure in LA. Off to Cleveland, where he languished in obscurity until one fateful night in 1984 when he was traded to the Cubs for Mel Hall and some announcer named Joe Carter. One of my first Cub memories as a youngster was crying the next day, because Mel Hall was my favorite player. Later things came full circle when I cried (for a different reason) listening to Joe Carter announce Cubs games. "Sutt" went an amazing 16-1 for the Cubbies, winning Cy Young and leading them to their first playoff appearance since 1945.
The Red Baron was plagued with arm problems the rest of his career, never living up to the promise he showed in 1984, though he did show flashes of the old "Sutt" from time to time, finishing second in the Cy Young voting in 87' and earning an All Star nod in 89'. Rick finished off his career with short stints for the Orioles and Cardinals, though Cubs fans will not publicly acknowledge the Cardinals gig.
After retiring, he got into announcing, coaching, and more notably, drinking. His on-air drunken antics at a recent Padres game with Bill Murray have cemented his place in Cubs lore and brought much needed attention to the ongoing AIDS crisis in Africa. And Clooney.
Rick Sutcliffe does not dye his beard and if you ask him to shave it, he will punch you in the throat and key your car.