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by Harold "Doc" Friend
Mickey Mantle had problems with alcohol, Pete Rose bet on baseball games, and Jason Giambi took performance enhancing substances. It demonstrates that sometimes, with the passage of time, problems are exposed. Mantle, Rose, and Giambi all were recipients of the Hutch Award.
Fred Hutchinson: Player and Manager
Fred Hutchinson had a ten year career as a pitcher for the Tigers. His best season was 1947, when he was 18-10 with a 3.03 ERA. In 1952, at the age of thirty two, Hutchinson became the Tigers' playing manager. He also managed the Cardinals and the Reds. In 1961 Hutchinson led the surprising Reds, who had been projected as a second division team, to the pennant, only to be defeated the Yankees in the World Series, which was no disgrace. With the Series tied at one game, the Yankees came from behind to win Game 3 on Johnny Blanchard and Roger Maris home runs. If the Reds had won that game….
The Hutch Award
Fred Hutchinson was a knowledgeable, highly regarded manager who was respected by players, fans, and management. Unfortunately, in the prime of his life, Hutchinson was diagnosed with lung cancer. He continued to manage until August 13, 1964, when he no longer could take the strain. On November 12, at the age of forty five, Fred Hutchinson died. In 1965, the Hutch Award, to be given to an active player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire to win, as well as courage, and dedication to his team, family, and community, was created. The Hutch Award trophy is on permanent display at the Hall of Fame.
Unblemished Records at the Time
Fans love awards but they rely on the "experts," those in the business or in the media to determine who gets them, but the "experts" are human and errors occur, although they may not be viewed as mistakes at the time. Mickey Mantle won the first Hutch Award in 1965, Pete Rose won the Hutch Award in 1968, and Jason Giambi won it in 2000. When they were selected, they had unblemished records. All three displayed courage on and off the field, but all had major frailties that resulted in actions that were the antithesis of the Hutch Award standards. Mantle couldn't overcome his addiction to alcohol, Rose couldn't overcome his obsession to gambling and sticking to his version of events, and for more than two years, Giambi stood by his cryptic apology to fans which left most wondering for what he was apologizing.
They Were Not Mistakes
Mantle, Rose and Giambi deserved the Hutch Award when they received it. Mantle's problems with alcohol were not publicized by the press for many years, no one knew that Rose would gamble on baseball, and few suspected or wanted to believe that Giambi was supplementing his skills. One cannot blame those who voted for the Hutch Award recipient because those who vote must utilize all available information. In all three cases, when the hero's transgressions were revealed, the first reaction was usually one of disbelief, then of questioning the motives of the messengers, and finally acceptance. Mistakes are made, but at the time Mantle, Rose, and Giambi received their award, their selection was NOT a mistake.
References: Hutch Award