Boston Red Sox pitcher and Puyallup native Jon Lester, who came back from a 2006 battle with cancer to pitch the World Series-clinching game in 2007, received the Hutch Award at the annual luncheon at Safeco Field last Wednesday.
The event, held on the open field under sunny skies, raised more than $314,000 for the Center’s Gregory Fund for early cancer-detection research.
Former Hutch Award winner Jamie Moyer of the Philadelphia Phillies presented the award to Lester, while baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver delivered a touching keynote address about his own daughter's successful battle against cancer.
Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in August 2006. Referred to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, he underwent six rounds of chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Oliver Press. In December 2006 he was cancer-free and two months later he joined the Red Sox for spring training, returning to the mound mid-season.
Lester said his experience with cancer affects his life off the field and has influenced his fans. A group of Boston-area college students started The Lester Project, which raises money for cancer research, while Lester often takes the time to meet fans who are undergoing cancer treatment. Last week, he and Seaver visited students at the Hutch School, taking questions and signing autographs for about 30 students and their families.
“This is a tremendous honor for me and my family to have been selected for the Hutch Award,” Lester said. “I’m humbled to know that legends such as Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax and Lou Brock have won this award in the past.”
The Hutch Award is given annually to a Major League Baseball player who exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer at age 45. The award was established in 1965; Mantle was the first recipient. In all, 11 Hall of Fame members have received the Hutch Award. For more information, including a full list of past recipients, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.