John Cerutti would have turned 58 today.
John was a good lefty pitcher, for the Blue Jays, back in the late 80’s. He was 46-37 in 6 seasons for us, starting 108 games and relieving in 83 and had a 3.87 ERA. His best season was 1989, when he went 11-11 in 31 starts, with a 3.07 ERA n 205 innings. The next year he was 9-9 with a 4.76 ERA in 30 games, 23 starts. After the season he signed with the Tigers as a free agent.
He told a great story about his first major league game.
I was called up on 1 September 1985. I didn’t arrive until the fourth inning of the game because of the flight time and the CNE going on. I got to the clubhouse and I got dressed in my uniform and went into the dugout. I said hello to some of the players that I knew and Bobby Cox, the manager, said hello and asked me if I was able to pitch. I said, “Yes”, of course. We were playing the Chicago White Sox. I got the call to warm up in the seventh inning when Jim Acker loaded the bases with no one out. Before I knew it, I was called into the game to face Harold Baines, their third hitter and their best hitter. Steve Nicosia was catching. Steve had just joined the club from the Montreal Expos the day before and I had never met him. So when I arrived at the mound, Cox said, “Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Steve this is John. John this is Steve.”
I told Steve I threw a fastball, curveball and forkball, but we better just stick with the first two in this situation. He went back and called for a curveball and I threw it about five feet high: ball one. He called for another curveball and I made an adjustment and I bounced it: ball two. Now everyone knew I was going to throw a fastball, including Harold Baines. I reared back and threw a fastball down the middle of the plate and he foul tipped it back and it struck the umpire. I threw a second fastball, a little bit higher, and Baines swung and missed: 2 -and- 2. I threw another fastball, further up the ladder, and Baines swung and missed: strike three. Then finally I could breathe.
At that time, Bobby Cox was on his way to the mound. I was thinking he was going to go over the next batter, Carlton Fisk. Before I realized it, he was calling Bill Caudill into the game. It took me a moment to figure out I was being relieved. As I walked off the field to a big ovation, I was thinking, “I have struck out everyone I have faced in the big leagues and they are taking me out of the game.”
After his career Cerutti went into broadcasting, first as a commentator on CBC Jays games, then moving over to TSN. He was good, knowledgeable and had a good personality for the job.
John died of an heart attack in his hotel room the morning of the last Jays game of 2004, far too young. He should still be doing Jays games for us. The Blue Jay BBWAA members have named their annual ‘Good Guy Award’ after Cerutti (Mal Romanin got the award last year, as well as being a good guy it allowed the writers to make a pointed comment at the front office that fired him).