|08-22-2007, 10:41 PM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Portland, Or
10 days ago, Fred Hutchinson would have been 88 years old....
Most of you know his story, but here's a synopsis from Wikipedia:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born: August 12, 1919
Died: November 12, 1964 (aged 45)
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut: May 2, 1939 for the Detroit Tigers
Final game: September 27, 1953 for the Detroit Tigers
Win-Loss Record 95-71
Earned Run Average 3.73
Detroit Tigers (1939-1953)
Detroit Tigers (1952-1954)
St. Louis Cardinals (1956-1958)
Detroit Tigers (1959-1964)
Career highlights and awards
All star in 1951
Frederick Charles Hutchinson (August 12, 1919 – November 12, 1964) was an American pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball. Stricken with fatal lung cancer at the zenith of his managerial career as leader of the pennant-contending Cincinnati Reds, he was commemorated one year after his death when his brother, Dr. William Hutchinson, created the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a division of the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation, in the Hutchinsons’ native city of Seattle, Washington. The FHCRC, which became independent in 1972, is now one of the best-known facilities of its kind in the world.
Fred Hutchinson, known throughout baseball as “Hutch,” attended the University of Washington. A right-handed pitcher, he entered the organized baseball ranks in 1938 with the independent Seattle Rainiers of the AA Pacific Coast League and caused an immediate sensation at age 19, winning a league-best 25 games and that season’s Minor League Player of the Year award as bestowed by The Sporting News. After his contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers of the American League, Hutchinson struggled in his early major league career with a 6-13 record and an earned-run average of 5.43 during the 1939-41 seasons. His ineffectiveness caused his return to the minor leagues in each season. In 1941, at Buffalo of the AA International League, he enjoyed another stellar campaign, leading the league in victories (26) and innings pitched (284). A successful major league career seemed to await Hutchinson, then 22, when the U.S. entered World War II. He saw active duty in the U.S. Navy, rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, and lost four full seasons to military service.
In 1946, Hutchinson – approaching 27 – returned to baseball with a vengeance, winning a place in the defending World Series champion Tigers’ starting rotation and beginning a string of six straight campaigns of ten or more wins, including seasons of 18 (1947) and 17 victories (1950). He was selected to the 1951 American League All-Star team, and pitched three innings of the junior loop’s 8-3 loss at Hutchinson’s home park, Briggs Stadium.
Overall, Hutchinson compiled a 95-71 career record over 11 seasons, all with Detroit – a stellar mark considering his early-career mishaps. He was known as a good teammate and a ferocious competitor, who once reportedly shattered every light bulb from the dugout to the clubhouse after being lifted from a ballgame. He also was one of the best-hitting pitchers of his time; a left-handed batter, he frequently pinch-hit and batted over .300 four times during his major league career. On a dubious note, he is also recalled as the pitcher who gave up the longest home run in Ted Williams' career, a 502-foot (153-metre) blast in 1946 that broke the straw hat of a startled fan sitting in Fenway Park’s right-center-field bleachers. The seat where the home run landed has been painted red since to mark the long ball.
A Major League manager at 32
A slow decline in Hutchinson’s pitching career coincided with an alarming drop in the fortunes of his usually contending Tigers. On July 5, 1952, with Detroit in the surprising position of last place, the club fired manager Red Rolfe and handed the job to Hutchinson, still an active player and five weeks shy of his 33rd birthday. Hutchinson was chosen based on his leadership skills; he had been the AL’s Player Representative since 1947. Hutchinson managed the Tigers for the next 2½ years, guiding them from their eighth (last)-place finish in 1952 to sixth and fifth place during the next two seasons. His reign included the 1953 debut of future Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Al Kaline. However, Detroit’s ownership and front office were in flux and, at the end of 1954, Hutchinson was fired as manager and replaced by the veteran Bucky Harris. It marked the end of a 16-year association with the Tigers.
Out of the major leagues for the first time since 1941, Hutchinson went home to Seattle and the Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League, becoming their manager in 1955. Even though the club did not enjoy a major league affiliation, Hutchinson led Seattle to a 95-77 record and a first place finish. His success led to his second major league managerial job when he replaced Harry Walker as skipper of the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1956 season. The Cardinals, one of baseball's storied franchises, had fallen into the second division. With general manager “Frantic” Frank Lane constantly revamping the roster through trades and Hutchinson’s steady hand at the helm, the Cardinals improved by eight games in 1956, and catapulted to second place in 1957, behind only the eventual world champion Milwaukee Braves. Hutchinson was named National League Manager of the Year, and his popularity in the Mound City resulted in a new nickname, "The Big Bear", bestowed by Cardinal broadcaster Joe Garagiola. Hutchinson's typical unsmiling expression also led Garagiola to joke that Hutchinson was "really happy inside, only his face didn't know it." However, Lane's departure from the St. Louis front office and the Cardinals’ disappointing 1958 season resulted in Hutchinson’s dismissal that September, with the team six games below .500 and in fifth place.
Success in Cincinnati
Once again, Hutchinson returned to Seattle as manager of the Rainiers for 1959. This time, he did not have the on-field success of 1955. Fortunately, however, the Rainiers were by now the top farm club of the Cincinnati Reds, who had stumbled coming out of the gate. In July 1959, with the Reds 10 games under .500, Hutchinson was called to Cincinnati to take over the club, replacing Mayo Smith. Under Hutchinson, Cincinnati went 39-35 and improved two notches in the standings, but the following season saw the Reds struggle again to a 67-87 record and sixth place in the National League. Like Detroit and St. Louis before, the Reds also were in front office turmoil, as the general manager who hired Hutchinson, Gabe Paul, departed for the expansion Houston Colt .45s and was replaced by Bill DeWitt. The sudden death of longtime owner Powel Crosley before the '61 season meant the team would soon be sold.
As a result, 1961 was a crucial season for Hutchinson. The Reds were projected as a second division team, lagging well behind the defending world champion Pittsburgh Pirates, the 1959 champion Los Angeles Dodgers, and strong San Francisco Giants and Braves outfits. Buoyed by the maturation of young players such as outfielder Vada Pinson and pitchers Jim O'Toole, Ken Hunt and Jim Maloney, the acquisition of another young pitcher, Joey Jay (who became a 20-game winner), as well as third baseman Gene Freese, and an MVP season by outfielder Frank Robinson, the Reds stunned the league. They surged into contention with a nine-game winning streak in May, and took first place for good August 16 when they swept the Dodgers in a doubleheader in Los Angeles. The 1961 Reds won 93 games and their first NL pennant since 1940. It would be Hutchinson’s second trip to the World Series; ironically, he was a Detroit pitcher in 1940 when his Tigers lost the Fall Classic to Cincinnati in seven games. Unfortunately, the 1961 Reds drew one of the best teams of its era as its World Series foe: the New York Yankees of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, et al., who had won 109 games. Cincinnati lost the 1961 Series in five games.
Final years and legacy
Winning the 1961 pennant secured Hutchinson’s place in Cincinnati. In 1962, his Reds won 98 games but finished third, 3½ games behind the Giants. While the team fell to fifth in 1963, with an 86-76 mark, it continued to blend in young talent, such as shortstop Leo Cardenas and rookie second baseman Pete Rose. With a solid corps of veterans and a strong farm system, the Reds were considered a contending club in 1964, provided that its pitching staff made a comeback. Tragically, an off-season medical examination revealed malignant tumors in Hutchinson's lungs and chest. Given the cancer treatments available at the time, the prognosis was grim. The Reds made their manager’s illness public on January 3, 1964. As The Sporting News noted, the team played the 1964 season with the terrible knowledge that Hutchinson “probably was at death’s door.”
His health failing, Hutchinson nevertheless managed the Reds through July 27, when he was hospitalized. He returned to the dugout August 4, but could only endure nine more days before he turned the team over to his first-base coach, Dick Sisler, on August 13, one day after his 45th birthday. With their manager now critically ill, the inspired Reds caught fire and won 29 out of their last 47 games as the first-place Philadelphia Phillies collapsed, but the team finished in a tie for second, one game behind the Cardinals. Hutchinson formally resigned as manager October 19; he died three weeks later in Bradenton, Florida. SPORT magazine posthumously named him Man of the Year for 1964 in tribute to his courage in battling his final illness and the Reds permanently retired his uniform number (1). The Hutch Award is given annually by Major League Baseball in his memory as well.
Hutchinson was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1965. His career record as a major league manager, in all or parts of 12 seasons, was 830-827 (.501) with nine tie games.
On December 24, 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named Hutchinson Seattle's athlete of the 20th Century.
Meanwhile, the FHCRC continues to make news as a cancer treatment center — in medical and baseball circles. When Boston Red Sox rookie lefthanded pitcher Jon Lester, a Washington native, was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma during the 2006 season, he chose to receive his chemotherapy regimen at the Seattle facility.
Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't."