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TORONTO JOHN CERUTTI, a former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and baseball broadcaster, was found dead in a Toronto hotel room on Sunday. He was 44 years old. Cerutti is believed to have died of natural causes and foul play is not suspected, the Blue Jays said in a statement. Later the death was officially attributed to heart arrhythmia.
The funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET at the Church at Saint Catherine of Siena in Cerutti's hometown of Albany, New York. A memorial service is planned for next week in Tampa, Florida.
John failed to arrive for an 11:00 a.m. ET production meeting Sunday to prepare for the final Blue Jays broadcast of the season on Rogers Sportsnet. The production staff began to worry and started calling him on his cellphone and hotel room phone, then after numerous unsuccessful attempts in making contact the police were brought in and eventually had to remove the door of his hotel room.
It was at this point that police and emergency medical workers found him dead in bed in his room at the SkyDome Hotel. "Ultimately, police officers and emergency medical service workers entered his room and found the 44-year-old absent of all vital signs. It is believed he died of natural causes," the team said in a statement.
"It was an unbelievable shock," said Blue Jays president PAUL GODFREY. "It goes to show how unimportant wins and losses are at a time like this. We grew to love John not only as a player but as a person. He's going to leave a void. Yesterday was a bad day for baseball in Canada, for many reasons. First and foremost the loss of John Cerutti. There's no doubt that his loss yesterday weighs heavily on all of us today. The shock and sadness will last in our memory for many years, and our sympathy goes out to the Cerutti famil."
Announcer ROB FAULDS did the TV broadcast alone with Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi and radio broadcaster TOM CHEEK filling in for a few innings. A native of Albany, New York, he spent six of his seven big-league seasons in Toronto. The left-hander was a first-round draft pick of the Jays in 1981 and played with the club from 1985 to 1990, helping them capture American League East titles in 1985 and 1989.
Then Cerutti signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent following the 1990 season and played one year before retiring as a player in early 1991. He had signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox in early 1991 but was released in Spring Training. His MLB career record was 49-43 with a 3.94 earned-run average in 229 games. His best seasons came in 1987 when he went 11-4 with a 4.40 ERA and in 1989 when he was 11-11 with a 3.07 ERA through 205.1 innings pitched.
In the 1989 ALCS he tossed 2.2 innings against the Oakland Athletics, allowing no hits, three walks and no runs. After his playing career, Cerutti made the transition to the broadcast booth, becoming a baseball commentator for Time Warner Cable in 1993. Then, he made his Toronto Blue Jays broadcasting debut on 1 April 1997 as a colour commentator on CBC Television, where he often worked with BRIAN WILLIAMS, staying with the network through 2002.
He spent the past three seasons as a lead analyst with Rogers Sportsnet. "This is a sad day for the Rogers family as we have lost a distinguished member. John's sudden and tragic passing is a real blow to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to John's family at this time," said Sportsnet President DOUG BEEFORTH. DON PEPPIN, who was senior producer of Blue Jays telecasts on CBC, remembers Cerutti as a sincere, honest and true gentleman. "The overwhelming quality with John was his enthusiasm and passion for the game," said Peppin, who spoke with Cerutti last week. "He had a truly cerebral attitude in a world where that isn't necessarily the norm.
"He had the gift of the gab. He could talk, debate, but it wasn't always about baseball. He had an inquiring mind and could connect with people at every level. He was seriously interested in what was going on in people's lives." Peppin described Cerutti as a "deeply religious guy" who hated to be away from his family in Florida. "I remember working our spring training meetings around the March Break," Peppin said, adding Cerutti was an accomplished painter and scratch golfer. "John would do his work before the March Break and then be gone with his kids for a week. The enthusiasm he brought to the ballpark was shared in all aspects of his life."
Cerutti is survived by his wife, Claudia, and three children Daniel, Nicole and Janine. Said Godfrey of Cerutti: "He's going to leave a void in the lives of not only his family, but also in those of everyone he came into contact with."
" He had three loves. He loved baseball. He loved golf and he loved his family. It's really, really a shock to deal with this today. This is an absolute shock. John was an integral part of our broadcasts. All I can say is we're offering our support and condolences to his family," said RICK BRIGGS-JUDE, Vice-President of programming at Sportsnet. TIM WILKEN, a former Blue Jays director of scouting, said, " I saw John last week in Tampa. He was a good competitor. We played on a basketball team together, he beat most in golf. He was a great athlete and very family oriented." " I never met a finer man in or out of baseball," said former Blue Jays broadcaster and recent manager BUCK MARTINEZ.
" It's very shocking to lose someone in the prime of life," stated former Blue Jays General Manager GORD ASH. " I stopped by to visit TOM CHEEK a couple of weeks ago and had a nice visit with John. He had an appreciation for the game both as a player and broadcaster." " It was a very difficult day. Not only did I lose a good friend and teammate, just a good man. It's very difficult to talk about, but it just shows you how quick life is and how it's taken away from you. What I can say about John is he was a very devoted man to his family. He loved the game of baseball, but more importantly, he loved his kids," stated ERNIE WHITT, his former catcher and now a coach with the club.
CRAIG FENECH, his longtime agent, said, "John lived nothing but an exemplary life. He was a credit to baseball as the only player ever to be drafted No. 1 out of Amherst, where he was a double major in math and economics. He could have done anything, but he chose baseball as his career and I don't know anyone who didn't love and respect him." JOHN CERUTTI was truly a one-of-a-kind classy fellow, a real gentleman, quite a bit different than the average athlete and sportscaster one knows or hears about, who will be greatly missed by all who knew or ever met him.
In 2005 the Blue Jays will wear a patch with the initials of BOBBY MATTICK, DOUG AULT and JOHN CERUTTI, all of whom died unexpectedly within a short period of one another near the end of 2004. In a banner below these initials of BM, DA above and JC underneath will be the words TEAMMATES FOREVER near the bottom.
On 25 May 1986, at CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM, with PAT TABLER at bat for the CLEVELAND INDIANS, JOHN CERUTTI picked JOE CARTER off first base unassisted after beating him back to the bag. This same play occurred the previous month in an OAKLAND ATHLETICS - MINNESOTA TWINS game. On 7 June 1989, JOHN CERUTTI recorded the first home victory for his TORONTO BLUE JAYS at SKYDOME in Toronto.
On 23 April 1991, in the top of the sixth inning at FENWAY PARK, JOHN OLERUD is at bat when BOSTON RED SOX pitcher ROGER CLEMENS caught JOE CARTER napping and picks off the baserunner, unassisted, at first base. On being asked what his most memorable game in his big league career was, John Cerutti responded, I am asked that question a great deal and I still say my debut as a rookie was the standout. It was very exciting first of all and the culmination of a lot of hard work.
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, BOBBY 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."
Special to Canadian Baseball News 6 October 2004
1981 PIONEER LEAGUE ALL STAR TEAM
JOHN JOSEPH CERUTTI
Bats - Left
School- Amherst College
Drafted by the TORONTO BLUE JAYS
8 June 1981: Drafted by the TORONTO BLUE JAYS
20 December 1990: Granted Free Agency.
14 January 1991: Signed as a Free Agent with the DETROIT TIGERS.
31 October 1991: Granted Free Agency.
APPROXIMATE MLB SALARIES 1986-1991
1986 - Toronto Blue Jays - $90,000
CAREER - ( APPROXIMATE ) = $2,414,500
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