Fresh off Rick Sutcliffe’s recovery from colon cancer, Bill Reiter of the KANSAS CITY STAR pens a lengthy profile on the local legend - interviewing Sutcliffe in his KC-area home.
It’s a good read, and the best story is saved for last - which has Sutcliffe spinning a yarn that had him stealing the first base of his career - spurred by an on-air bet between Steve Stone and Bill Murray.
During a WGN TV broadcast which featured Sutcliffe as a Cubs pitcher, Reiter reports …
Sitting in the booth, Stone and Murray had to stall while a new pitcher warmed up. Murray looked at Stone and said, ‘I betcha a case of beer Sutcliffe steals second.’ Stone laughed and pointed out Sutcliffe had never even attempted to steal a base. He pointed out Sutcliffe had a bad hamstring. He pointed out Sutcliffe was not exactly the world’s fastest human being.
“But,” Sutcliffe remembered Stone saying, “I’ll take the bet because I’d like to win a case of beer from you.”
The pitcher was still warming up when word spreads and a fan yelled, “Hey Sut, Murray just bet Steve Stone a case of beer you’ll steal second!”
Standing on first base, Sutcliffe decided: Screw it. I’m going.
“All of a sudden the pitcher comes down and I tell my mind to go but my body won’t move and I literally almost fell down,” he said.
Then Expos manager Buck Rodgers yelled to first baseman Andres Galarraga, ‘Play behind him, he ain’t frickin’ going anywhere!’ ”
Sutcliffe took off running. All 6-7 of the Red Baron hauling ass for second base just to mess with Cubs announcer Steve Stone.
“I am gone,” Sutcliffe said. “He comes down and looks over. Well I’m halfway to second. I’m going, ‘Ah, he got me.’ Well the dummy goes to home so now I’ve got to get going again. But there’s still a play. That’s how slow I am.”
The throw. The slide. He’s safe.
That moment started a friendship between Sutcliffe and Murray that lives on today. So much so, that Murray often shows up in KC just to goof around (see beer cart-powered golf).