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Don Sutton Wins His 300th Game

By baseball standards, the number 300 is magical. A .300 batting average is considered good, but for a pitcher, 300 has a completely different meaning: Greatness. Winning 300 games in a career almost assures a one-way ticket to Cooperstown, and on June 18, 1986, 41-year-old Don Sutton took the mound at Anaheim Stadium against the Texas Rangers with 299 victories to his name.

Sutton by no means had the same arm he had 10 years before. But his experience made him a "pitcher" in the true sense of the word. By hitting his spots and changing speeds, he meticulously retired the Rangers hitters one by one. Through six innings, he had a one-hit shutout. The offense supported him, giving him three runs in the first, another in the fifth and one more in the seventh. A seventh-inning home run by the Rangers' Pete Incaviglia was the only blemish on the scoreboard. Sutton was economical and precise with his pitches, he had made only 7 going into the ninth inning.

With more than 37,000 fans on their feet, Sutton took the mound in the ninth. First, Scott Fletcher flied out. Then, Oddibe McDowell flied out. And finally, Gary Ward struck out to end it. Sutton raised his arms in celebration of his 300th career victory, a 5-1 complete-game win, one that would be his ticket to the Hall of Fame. "I can't think of a better scenario than to have done it here," Sutton said during a postgame news conference.

"It's remarkable how time after time it's been proven how special people do special things," manager Gene Mauch said. "I imagine that Don is proud that No. 300 was this kind of game rather than just another win."

Sutton won 15 games that year, making 34 starts. But he wasn't always so confident he'd get to No. 300. "There were a couple times in the last three or four years when I thought it might be out of reach," Sutton said, "It came down to a lot of sacrifice and wondering 'Was it possible?' And 'Was it worth it?'"

Now a member of baseball's Hall of Fame, Sutton can answer with an emphatic "Yes."

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