To get hyped for Opening Day this year (which has been harder than most recent years) I re-watched the Sandberg Game documentary produced by Marquee Sports Network. I presume most readers of this site are well familiar with this game, and this chronicle in particular, but I highly recommend watching it (again) either way.
The game itself was an NBC Game-of-the-Week matchup between the Cubs and Cards in June of 1984. Sandberg went 5-for-6 with 7 RBI, which would have made for a big afternoon all on its own. More importantly, he hit consecutive game-tying home runs against future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter in the 9th and 10th innings to launch his MVP campaign.
Bob Costas also remarked in the film that The Sandberg Game is the only non-postseason game in any sport he could recall being named after an individual player. I too am unable to recall one, but if anyone can think of a second example, please leave it in the comments.
After watching the film, I decided to check out just how good Sutter was in both 1984 and that era overall to gain better context for Sandberg’s achievement. Holy $*#t. Sutter had a 1.54 ERA that season and only gave up 21 earned runs, so Sandberg alone accounted for 14% of those in one game.
But what struck me after reading Sutter’s Baseball-Reference page was this: Why is he wearing a Cardinals hat on his Hall of Fame plaque?
Sutter pitched only 12 seasons, five with the Cubs, four with the Cardinals, and three forgettable seasons with Atlanta. He had six All-Star appearances, four of which came in Chicago, and one Cy Young campaign, also when he was pitching on the North Side. He earned 24.5 career bWAR (wow, that’s a low total for a HOF), 18.5 (or 75%) of which were with the Cubs. Of his 300 saves, 133 were as a Cub compared to 127 as a Cardinal. By any reasonable metric, most of Sutter’s success came as a Cub.
For what it’s worth, his headshot on B-ref is as a Cub.
Yes, Sutter won a World Series with the Cards in 1982. But he was not even an All-Star in 1982, so it’s not like he powered them to that title. And he didn’t compile any other late heroics, as that 1982 run represented his only postseason. The more I research it, the more I am puzzled. I could understand Sutter having a blank cap, like Greg Maddux, but what possible logic dictated a Cardinals hat?
Anyhow, let’s go Cubs in 2021!