Tom Butters (baseball)
April 8, 1938|
|Died: March 31, 2016
Durham, North Carolina
|September 8, 1962, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 20, 1965, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Earned run average||3.10|
Thomas Arden Butters (April 8, 1938 – March 31, 2016) was an American professional baseball player who became best known as a longtime college sports administrator at Duke University and a key figure in the success of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
Butters was the athletic director at Duke from 1977–97. Three years into that tenure, he hired Mike Krzyzewski as the Blue Devils' men's basketball coach; in 2011, Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in Men's Division I history. During his two decades as head of Duke intercollegiate athletics, Butters supervised programs that won 40 Atlantic Coast Conference team titles.
Butters was a native of Delaware, Ohio, who attended Ohio Wesleyan University in his native city. In baseball, he was a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 195 lb (88 kg) right-handed pitcher. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957 after being scouted by legendary retired Pirates' general manager Branch Rickey, also an Ohio Wesleyan alumnus. But Butters required almost six full years of minor league seasoning before his recall to the Pirates in September 1962.
Butters then spent parts of the next three seasons in Major League Baseball, including most of 1964. Working in 28 games pitched for the 1964 Pirates, including four starts, Butters split four decisions and posted a sparkling 2.38 earned run average.
But en route to spring training with his young family in 1965, Butters suffered a severe whiplash injury in an automobile accident. He spent most of 1965 on the disabled list and cut short an attempted comeback in 1966 when the effects of his injury proved insurmountable. In 43 career MLB games pitched, Butters compiled a 2–3 record, allowing 81 hits and 56 bases on balls in 952⁄3 innings pitched. He fanned 85.
A United States Army veteran, Butters had also spent baseball off-seasons working in admissions for his alma mater. In 1967, he joined Duke University as director of special events, then served three years (1968–70) as head baseball coach before moving into administration. In addition to serving as athletic director, Butters was director of the "Iron Dukes" (the fundraising organization for the school's athletics), associate athletic director, assistant to the chancellor, and vice president of the university. During his 1989–94 tenure on the NCAA Basketball Committee, including two years as chairman, he was part of the negotiating team that brokered a $1 billion contract with CBS Sports to televise the annual March tournament.
Butters was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and the sports halls of fame of both Ohio Wesleyan and Duke universities.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
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