Pete Sabutis was one of the premier pitchers in Tacoma and Pierce County from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, and the southpaw star of K Street’s perennial City, Valley and Sunset League champions rarely suffered defeat.
Born in Tacoma on Nov. 30, 1918, Sabutis attended Lincoln High School where he was one of the top prep pitching prospects in the state. He also made a mark during that time as one of the area’s very best handball players, a sport he learned from Fred Osmers, owner of Northwestern Drug where he worked and one of the area’s top basketball and handlball players in the 30’s.
Sabutis enlisted in the Army on April 3, 1941 and was a private from 1941 until 1945 and was overseas for more than three years, earning a Purple Heart and serving in the battles of Hollandia, Biak and Zambaanaga. He was wounded by a Japanese air raid while in Biak in New Guinea and took a lot of shrapnel in his back and shoulders and while some of it was removed, he still had some pieces remaining in his shoulder. He was discharged on May 16, 1945.
Sabutis graduated from the sand lots of Pierce County to take the mound in 1947 for the Tacoma Tigers of the Western International League during a time when baseball fever was at a high pitch locally. Teams in the semi-pro ranks included high school and college stars and many semi-pro and former professional players; the competition was fierce.
A lefty with a dazzling curve, Sabutis starred in every appearance. The K Street nine competed in the Valley League under the name of Edgewood (most teams represented communities from Morton to Gig Harbor) but the pitching poison was always the same, a lefty named Sabutis. Besides K Street, he also played for Phil’s of Edgewood, Olde Pilsner, Cammarano Brothers and Madigan Hospital, the Valley and Sunset League champions.
Records weren’t kept very well during that era but veterans who played in those leagues will tell you that Pete authored his share of one-, two- and three-hitters with regularity. He no doubt had a no-hitter or two as well. If your team was facing the “K Street” nine and Sabutis was on the hill, there was almost no chance that you would win the game.
Pete passed away on October 18, 2011.