The Obit For John Cerutti

Former Blue Jays pitcher John Cerutti found dead in hotel room

Shi Davidi
Canadian Press

Monday, October 04, 2004

TORONTO (CP) - John Cerutti, a former Blue Jays pitcher who became a television analyst for the team, was found dead in his hotel room Sunday morning in a tragic end to the baseball season in Toronto.

He was 44. The Blue Jays made the announcement about an hour after their 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees at SkyDome. "It was an unbelievable shock," Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said. "We all realize, those of us involved in winning and losing games, how unimportant that is at a time like this."

Cerutti was scheduled to call Sunday's game alongside commentator Rob Faulds but missed an 11 a.m. production meeting. When he didn't show up for the 1:05 p.m. game, Rogers Sportsnet and Blue Jays officials became concerned and began making calls.

"It's not like him, it's just totally out of character for someone as responsible as John always was," said Godfrey.

Repeated calls were made to his SkyDome hotel room before police and emergency medical workers removed its door. They found Cerutti dead inside.

It's believed he died of natural causes and foul play was not suspected, Godfrey said.

"Everyone who has known John is all broken up about it," said Godfrey.

Making his death all the more shocking was that he spent Saturday golfing with his parents and other family members and had dinner with them.

"I know John had three loves," said Rick Briggs-Jude, Rogers Sportsnet's vice-president of programming, as his eyes welled up. "He loved baseball, he loved golf and he loved his family. 'It's really, really a shock to deal with this today."

Cerutti's wife, Claudia, and their three children are at home in Oldsmar, Fla. She was informed of her husband's death by phone and later told children Daniel, Nicole and Janine.

"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," said Godfrey.

Born in Albany, N.Y., Cerutti was Toronto's first-round draft pick, 21st overall, in 1981.

He joined the Blue Jays in 1985 and spent six seasons with the club, helping them win American League East titles in '85 and '89. The left-hander signed with Detroit as a free agent following the 1990 season, missing Toronto's World Series titles in 1992-'93.

His career record was 49-43 with a 3.94 earned-run average in 229 games.

Cerutti began his Blue Jays broadcasting career in 1997 as a colour commentator for CBC and was with them through 2002. He spent the past three seasons as lead analyst for Rogers Sportsnet, becoming one of the better commentators covering the team.

"This is an absolute shock," said Briggs-Jude. "John was an integral part of our broadcasts. "All I can say is we're offering our support and condolences to all his family."

No funeral details were released.

John J. Cerutti

OLDSMAR, Fla. John J. Cerutti, 44, of Oldsmar, Fla., formerly of Albany, died suddenly on Sunday, October 3, 2004 in Toronto.

Born and raised in Albany, he was a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy and Amherst College. In school, John excelled both as a student and an athlete, competing in baseball, basketball and golf. In 1981, the Toronto Blue Jays selected the left-handed pitcher in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He went on to play major league baseball for seven years, winning 49 games and compiling a 3.94 ERA. In 1997, John began a broadcasting career that resulted in his becoming the color commentator for the Toronto Blue Jays. He also competed professionally in golf, once making a run at qualifying for the U.S. Open.

John will be remembered by all as a generous, gregarious, spiritual man with a tremendous sense of humor. Someone who always looked at the bright side and never had an unkind word to say. John is survived by his wife Claudia (Laks); his son, Daniel, 18; and daughters, Nicole, 15 and Janine, 10. He is also survived by his parents, Dan and Marlene; his brother, Danny and wife Jeri of Boston; his brother, David and wife Nancy; his sister, Mary Clement and husband Jerome; his brother, Paul; his sister, Lisa Wichelns and husband Chuck; 18 first cousins; 23 nieces and nephews; numerous cherished aunts and uncles.

Relatives and friends are invited to call at Frederick Funeral Home, 633 Central Ave. in Albany on Wednesday, October 6 from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 10 a.m. at the Church at Saint Catherine of Siena, 40 Hopewell St., Albany.

A celebration of John's life will be held in Tampa, Fla. next week. In lieu of flowers, a charitable memorial fund is being established and contributions may be made in John's name through any Bank of America Branch.