Last weekend, the gates of Safeco Field swung wide to welcome Mariners fans to a baseball carnival. Today, they opened for a different cause.
The Hutch Award Luncheon was established in 1965, named in honor of former Seattle Rainiers pitcher Fred Hutchinson. Hutchinson battled lung cancer during his time with the Cincinnati Reds, succumbing to it just three weeks after his managerial resignation in 1964.
According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s website, the Hutch Award is presented to a major leaguer who embodies the “fighting spirit and competitive desire of the legendary leader.” It has been presented to 47 MLB players since 1965, including Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Willie McCovey, Jamie Moyer, and Billy Butler.
This year’s recipient, San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, was selected by the Hutch Award committee from a pool of ten players: Alex Gordon, Ryan Ludwick, Jake Peavy, Ryan Zimmerman, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, Logan Morrison, Brandon McCarthy, and Seattle’s own Felix Hernandez.
Zito’s work outside the ballpark is extensive. He supports and volunteers at the St. Anthony Foundation, aimed at feeding and supporting the homeless and military veterans in San Francisco. The list of charitable causes and organizations he partners with is a long one, including cancer research, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Special Olympics, and Make-a-Wish Foundation. Most notably, Zito founded and runs Strikeout for Troops, an organization that works with Major League Baseball to assist injured and recovering service members and their families.
This morning, Zito toured the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center research labs and Hutch School with former Seattle Mariner Lou Piniella. Later, a charity luncheon and silent auction was held at Safeco Field, punctuated by Piniella’s keynote speech. Along with the distinction of a Hutch Award, Barry received an original glass sculpture designed by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
To find out more about the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and its work in the Seattle community, visit their website here.