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Monday, October 04, 2004

John Cerutti, 1960-2004

Lost, perhaps, among all of the season-ending baseball stories was the death of John Cerutti, a member of the broadcasting team for the Toronto Blue Jays and a former pitcher for the Blue Jays and Tigers who had a 49-43 record during his Major League career. Cerutti, a lefty starter, was an alumnus of tiny Amherst College, a Division III school much more known for its academic excellence than for its athletic programs. Calvin Coolidge was an alum of Amherst, as was Robert Frost. He was found in his hotel room, apparently having passed away of natural causes, after he failed to show up for a production meeting.

I didn't know John Cerutti, but I always liked the story of a Division III athlete making it good in the big time. Amherst had its fair share of outstanding football players -- Doug Swift was a starting linebacker on the Dolphins' team that went undefeated and won the Super Bowl, Jean Fugett was a tight end on some outstanding Cowboy teams, and Freddie Scott had a nice career as a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions.

My wife is an alum of Amherst College (same vintage as Cerutti) and recalls him and his group of friends as a bunch of good guys (at Amherst, with 1600 undergrads, it's hard not to know who everyone is, as it's not the type of place where you can really hide). An atypical Amherst alum, he opted for a road less traveled, choosing a career in professional sports (even after he retired) while many of his fellow alums opted for the professions.

The John Ceruttis of the world make life more interesting for everyone else. They excel at multiple things -- academics at one of the most competitive schools in the country and athletics at the highest level a game is played. They're fun to be around because they can articulate on a wide variety of subjects, and not just the basic elements of the games they played and covered. They're rare, and we cherish them for their excellence and their common touch.

John Cerutti leaves behind a wife and three children.

He will be missed.


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