JOEY HUTCHINSON, it turns out, is a chip off the old Fred.
On June 30, we previewed a tribute to Fred Hutchinson held July 7 at T-Mobile Park, home of the Mariners. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of Fred’s Aug. 12, 1919, birth. We saluted his baseball acclaim and namesake role for the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Fred’s grandson Joey, a real estate agent from Anna Maria Island, Florida, flew to Seattle with his dad, Joe (Fred’s son), for the tribute. Because of their presence, the tribute also was a 20th anniversary.
On July 15, 1999, when the ballpark (then named Safeco Field) opened, the pregame ceremony featured Joey, then just 5. His tiny body nearly swimming inside a replica uniform and hat of the 1955 Seattle Rainiers, whom his gramps piloted to the Pacific Coast League title, Joey ran the bases to be greeted at home by his dad and M’s stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner. I was fortunate to be on the field to capture this emotional moment for the Hutch Center.
Last July, I reconnected with now-25-year-old Joey, who sported long, curly locks in contrast to the closely shorn mid-20th-century Fred. Joey disclosed later that while he likes baseball, “soccer is my go-to sport.” But the differences end there. Fred’s famed fiery spirit has taken root in Joey’s heart.
“My whole family has a strong athletic background, and we play to win,” he says. “Even playing Monopoly when I was 12 or 13, once I had most of the board filled up with properties, I would take advantage of people, not cutting them any slack. … It can translate to a lot of things in life. It’s good to have that competitive nature.”
What about Fred’s well-known wall-busting at a loss? Joey allows for some Fred-like downsides. “For me, there’s been a few broken benches, a few drywall holes, car doors and doors slammed in the house,” he says. “It’s a little bit more than we want, but that’s all a part of the legacy, good or bad.”
A rock-star moment bolstered the legacy at this year’s Hutch Award luncheon on July 18, which raised $575,000 for cancer research. The keynote speaker, retired one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott, asked for a “kid” in the audience to help him display his patented mitt transfer. The “kid” was West Seattle’s Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam.
Joey’s appraisal of the year’s tributes reflects his grandfather’s gentlemanly side and civic stature that offset the fire. “We’re just thankful for the tradition that the Mariners and Fred Hutch keep alive,” he says. “It’s a great thing for us to come back to.”
THEN: Mariners star outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. (center) and Jay Buhner hoist 5-year-old Joey Hutchinson, grandson of Fred Hutchinson, after Joey rounded the bases before the first Mariners game at brand-new Safeco Field on July 15, 1999. Watching proudly at left is Joey’s dad and Fred’s son Joe Hutchinson of Anna Maria Island, Florida. (Clay Eals / Courtesy Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
NOW: Joey Hutchinson, 25, and girlfriend, Sandra Ordonez, pose in commemorative T-shirts before the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joey’s grandfather, Fred Hutchinson, on July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park, formerly Safeco Field. At rear, Seattle baseball historian Dave Eskenazi (left) chats with Joey’s dad and Fred’s son, Joe Hutchinson. (Clay Eals)
NOW: Against a T-Mobile Park backdrop of retired Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki, 25 Hutchinson family members wear commemorative T-shirts while posing for a group photo before the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Seattle-born baseball great Fred Hutchinson. In the front row, Fred’s son Joe, in 1955 Seattle Rainiers replica jersey, is second from left. Grandson Joey is third from left. (Clay Eals)