Hutch Award Luncheon

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About Fred Hutchinson

Honor. Courage. Dedication. These words embody the character of Fred Hutchinson, the winning major-league pitcher and manager who succumbed to cancer in 1964.

Born Aug. 12, 1919, in Seattle, Wash., "Hutch," as he was known, leaped into baseball at an early age. With him as catcher, Emerson School won city Grade School League titles in 1931 and 1933.

Hutch was a pitcher, catcher, first baseman, outfielder and fill-in coach for the champion Franklin High School teams of 1934-1937. As a pitcher and outfielder, he spurred the American Legion's Palace Fish teams to national playoffs in 1934 and 1936. In 1937, he narrowed his sights to the pitching mound, hurling for the Northwest League Yakima Indians.

Fred Hutchinson

Fred Hutchinson

In 1938, in what became Hutch's only season pitching for the Pacific Coast League (PCL) Seattle Rainiers, the general public first witnessed the legendary strength that Hutch would display for the rest of his career. He amassed a 25-7 record, winning his 19th game on his 19th birthday before a record Sick's Stadium crowd of 16,354 that lined the outfield fences three rows deep.

The Detroit Tigers quickly picked up Hutch, and he went 95-71 during 11 of the next 15 years (serving in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1946), notching major-league career-best 18- and 17-win seasons in 1947 and 1950.

With his tough countenance and competitive demeanor, Hutch became a fan favorite and a leader among his peers (he was American League player representative from 1947 through 1952). So it came as no surprise when Hutch was named manager for the Detroit Tigers from 1952 through 1954. He made his final 15 big-league pitching appearances during that stint.

In 1955, Hutch returned to Seattle to manage the Rainiers to the PCL title. Then, in 1956, he bounced back to the majors, switching to the National League, serving as skipper of the St. Louis Cardinals for the next three years and boosting the Redbirds to second place in 1957.

Again, Hutch answered the call of his hometown in 1959, agreeing to manage the Seattle Rainiers. Midway through the season, however, he was called up to the parent club, the Cincinnati Reds, to take over as manager, the position he held until his death from cancer in 1964.

With Cincinnati, Hutch achieved his greatest feat, pulling the Reds from sixth place in the 1960 National League standings to first place and into the World Series in 1961.

His 12-year managerial record ended on the winning side (830-827), but Hutch's biggest battle he could not win. He fought the cancer that ravaged him but was forced to step down from managing in the middle of the 1964 season. He died in Florida that November.

Over the years, Hutch racked up many awards, including Seattle Sports Star of the Year and the PCL's Most Valuable Player in 1938, and Manager of the Year in 1957 and 1961. Fittingly, following his final season, Sport magazine named him Man of the Year for 1964.