Hutch Award finalists announced
10/28/2006 8:00 PM ETBy Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Charlotte Hutchinson Reed vividly remembers frequent dinners with her uncle, Fred, when she was younger. She also remembers sharing those dinners often with much of Seattle, because of Fred's easy-going and outgoing demeanor and his favorite-son status within the city. "He was amazing," said Charlotte of Fred Hutchinson, the talented pitcher with a 95-71 career record for Detroit and equally strong accomplishments as a manager, including taking the Reds to the World Series in 1961. "We would go out to dinner and people would hover around him. Fred had time for everyone.
"It used to drive me crazy," she added with a laugh. "But he was always chit-chatting."
Hutchinson, nicknamed "Hutch," not only was revered in his hometown of Seattle but also was respected and loved throughout the Major League Baseball community. Hutchinson lost a valiant battle with lung cancer on Nov. 12, 1964, at the age of 45, but his memory certainly lives on. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which was named in Hutch's honor by his brother Bill, a surgeon, serves as a nonprofit research institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer and other potentially fatal diseases.
There is also a prestigious award, known as The Hutch, given to an active MLB player who most embodies the spirit and desire shown by Hutchinson. The 10 finalists for the 2006 honor were announced this weekend, and the list includes Cincinnati's Ken Griffey, Jr.
, Arizona's Orlando Hudson, the Yankees' Derek Jeter, Boston's Mark Loretta, St. Louis' Albert Pujols, Minnesota's Brad Radke, Baltimore's Brian Roberts, the White Sox's Jim Thome, Florida's Dontrelle Willis and Oakland's Barry Zito.
A winner will be selected by a special committee, including the past recipients of the award. The 2006 honoree will be chosen in mid-November and presented the award in January or February. While in Seattle for the festivities, Hutch Award recipients often visit with young cancer patients who are undergoing treatment on the Hutchinson Center campus.
"Usually, it goes to someone who has overcome professional or personal adversity," said Hutchinson Reed, who is on the Hutch Award Committee and on the board of trustees for the Hutchinson Center. "Someone who has battled back from an injury, someone who is dedicated to his team and shows the courage and dedication of Fred."
Houston's Craig Biggio was the Hutch Award recipient in 2005, preceded by San Diego's Trevor Hoffman in 2004 and Jamie Moyer, another of Seattle's favorite sons, in 2003. Mickey Mantle received the inaugural award in 1965, and fellow Hall of Famers such as Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock also are previous winners. Ken Griffey, Sr. will be the speaker at this year's gala, which could make for an interesting evening if his son emerges to win the Hutch Award.
It was Bill who felt as if he got Fred started in baseball, and it was Bill who started the world-renowned research center, which, among its many achievements, pioneered the bone-marrow transplant procedure. Bill Hutchinson had a special bond with his brother, according to Hutchinson Reed's comments concerning her late father and uncle.
"Fred was such a spirit, and what a positive role model he was for the players," said Hutchinson Reed. "I'm very proud that we have taken a sad incident and turned it into a positive thing."