Seattle Now & Then: 100th anniversary of Fred Hutchinson’s birth

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Mayor Allan Pomeroy is at the microphone, and Seafair Queen Carol Christensen stands center stage at this April 18, 1955, rally. Left of center, behind team owner Emil Sick and his trademark bowler, Fred Hutchinson peeks out. For IDs of others onstage, see “extra” photo below. (David Eskenazi collection)
THEN2: Fred poses in the 1955 Seattle Rainiers uniform, from the cover of the April 17, 1955, edition of the Seattle Times Pictorial magazine. To salute the 100th anniversary of Fred’s Aug. 12, 1919, birth, the Seattle Mariners will present Hutch bobble heads to the first 10,000 fans on Sunday, July 7, at T-Mobile Park. For the bobblehead itself, see “extra” photo below. (Josef Scaylea, Seattle Times)
NOW: Family and fans of “Hutch” –- (from left) Clay Eals, Jason Barber, David Eskenazi, Fred’s grand-nephew Brock Reed, Connor O’Shaughnessy, George La Torre, Fred’s niece Charlee Hutchinson Reed, Josh Belzman, Charlee’s husband Paul Reed, Jill Christensen, Tom Kim, Tara Palumbo-Egan, Dan Kerlee, Dave Kolk and Olin Gutierrez –- cross University Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues at the Metropolitan Theatre rally site, now the drive-through entrance of the Fairmount Olympic Hotel. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 27, 2019,
and in print on June 30, 2019)

Where’s Fred? 100th anniversary for birth of baseball hero ‘Hutch’
By Clay Eals

Time was, the name Fred Hutchinson stood for baseball excellence. You couldn’t grow up here and escape the “Hutch” legend. Often as a child, long pre-Mariners, I stood in the cavernous foyer of Sicks’ Seattle Stadium (now a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the south end), looked up and admired Fred’s photographic portrait high on the wall in the Seattle Rainiers Roll of Honor.

Today, “Hutch” signifies cancer research and the pioneering Seattle center, founded by his surgeon brother Bill, that has borne Fred’s name for 44 years. Employing 2,700 scientists and staff, “the Hutch” memorializes Seattle’s first baseball star of national stature. If he were alive, this hometown hero would turn 100 on Aug. 12.

In late 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named him Seattle’s Athlete of the 20th Century. The Seattle Times rated him second only to a recent phenom, Ken Griffey Jr.

Fred’s deep local significance is disproportionate to his short stints here in professional uniform, and minor league at that. One year was as a pitcher (his Cinderella season of 1938, post-Franklin High, when he went 25-7 for the new Rainiers), and one year plus half of another as a manager (again for the Rainiers, in 1955 and early 1959).

Still, he was the classic local boy made good. His big-league success (notching 95 wins as a pitcher, managing Cincinnati to the 1961 World Series), plus the respect accorded his alternately gentlemanly and fiery persona, gave him a lasting impression. The perseverant Fred also could turn a phrase. “Sweat is your only salvation,” he once told columnist Emmett Watson.

After his lung-cancer death in 1964, sportswriters created the Hutch Award. It didn’t hurt that the namesake’s nickname felt both informal and virile. (One original criterion for recipients, long ago discarded, was “manliness.”) The award grew into one of the Seattle center’s biggest fundraisers.

Our first “then” captures Fred at a peak of popularity, the day before the Rainiers’ 1955 home opener. This 1:30 p.m. rally at World War II-themed Victory Square – in front of soon-to-be-razed Metropolitan Theatre (circa 1911) on University Street – celebrated Fred’s return after 11 years in Detroit. Even the most hopeful fans could not have forecast his craftiness in shepherding a team with no .300 hitter in the regular lineup for the full season or 20-game-winning pitcher to the 1955 Pacific Coast League crown.

In this photo, before a sea of adoring fans (mostly male, mostly fedoraed) and on a stage crowded with business-suited players, the Barclay Girls can-can troupe and the Jackie Souders Orchestra, Fred is a “Where’s Waldo” figure. Try to find him. If you give up, we’ll help you in the first “then” caption and in the “extra” photos below.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are three additional photos, plus, in chronological order, seven clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In the interest of public disclosure, I should note that I worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a curriculum writer and publications editor from 1990 to 2003. From 1999 to 2001, I conducted more than 100 interviews with family, friends and professional baseball figures, with the intent of writing a biography of Fred Hutchinson. I still nurture that intention. –Clay

This photo is a crop of the first “then” above, with a more complete accounting of those who are onstage (names are in maroon). The IDs are courtesy of David Eskenazi, from whose collection the photo originates. Double-click on the photo to make the names legible.
Here is a closer-in photo of the same scene depicted in our first “then.” Fred Hutchinson (center right) is waving. Looking on are (from left) pitcher Elmer Singleton, catcher Bob Swift, infielder Gene Verble, catcher Joe Ginsberg, coach Alan Strange, owner Emil Sick, pitcher Bill Kennedy and one of the Barclay Girls. (David Eskenazi collection)
This is the Fred Hutchinson bobblehead that will be given to the first 10,000 fans attending the Seattle Mariners game on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park. It depicts Fred in 1938, when he went 25-7 in his only season as a pitcher for the Seattle Rainiers. Note that the photographer, Ben VanHouten, positioned the oval on the stanchion to create the illusion that the ball that Fred has just thrown is heading toward you. As the photo depicts, Fred also appears in mid-pitch on the end of each 100-level seat stanchion at the ballpark. (Ben VanHouten)
Feb. 23, 1911, Seattle Times, page 19
Nov. 7, 1911, Seattle Times, page 22
Dec. 26, 1915, Seattle Times, page 18
April 28, 1942, Seattle Times, page 26
Dec. 6, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
Dec. 7, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
April 10, 1955, Seattle Times, page 55
April 17, 1955, Seattle Times, page 36

 

April 18, 1955, Seattle Times, page 28
February 13, 1956, Seattle Times, page 34

 

 

 

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: 100th anniversary of Fred Hutchinson’s birth”

  1. Clay Eals
    I have written an interesting article about Fred Hutch, when he was playing on the Franklin HS JV basketball team in 1935. Franklin was playing Garfield, and on the Garfield team was Sol Maimon, who would become the rabbi of his Seattle synagogue for 40 years, but in 1935 he was just a competitive teenager.

    I would like to have this article circulated, and when I sent it to the communications people at the Hutch, they suggested that I might contact you.
    Thank you, Eugene Normand, Seattle, WA email: seehuge@aol.com

    Fri, Jul 5, 2019 10:56 am
    From: seehuge seehuge@aol.com

    To: communications communications@fredhutch.org

    Congratulations to the Fred Hutchinson organization on what would have been the 100th birthday of Fred Hutchinson (a month or so early). Last week my wife’s uncle, Rabbi Solomon Maimon, actually celebrated his 100th birthday in Seattle, and believe it or not, there was a connection between these two, the major leaguer, Fred, and the rabbi, Sol. They played in a JV basketball game against one another, about 85 years ago, and I wrote a short article about this (see below).
    Fred was playing for Franklin High School, and Solomon was playing for Garfield High School. I don’t really know which team won, but it is clear that these two players went on to have storied careers in their chosen fields of endeavor, Fred as a major league baseball player and manager, and Solomon as the rabbi of his synagogue for over 40 years. May their examples inspire others, namely, that you can compete like crazy on the court and then afterwards be dedicated to your chosen career.
    I am hoping that you will find this brief vignette concerning Hutch to be of interest and may be able to suggest another venue where I could send it.
    Thank you,
    Eugene Normand, Seattle, WA email: seehuge@aol.com

    Competitors on the Basketball Court: The Rabbi and
    the Major League Baseball Player-Manager

    by Dr. Eugene Normand

    photos: Sol Maimon (Garfield HS basketball) and Fred Hutchinson (Franklin HS, basketball and baseball)

    Many of the Cong. Sephardic Bikur Holim (SBH) high school boys were good athletes especially during the 1920s and 30s when almost all of them attended Garfield High School, and for decades afterwards too. A number of them tried out and made the Garfield basketball team. Actually at the time there were usually at least two teams, the varsity and the junior varsity (JV). For Garfield HS during the 1930s it was common for one or two of the starting players on the Garfield basket ball teams to be boys from SBH. The list of such players on the varsity basketball team during this period included: Victor Calderon, Ezra Rose, Israel Halfon, Mordo Barlia and Mike Ovadia.

    One who played on the JV team was Solomon Maimon, later to be the rabbi of Congregation Sephardic Bikur Holim, but in those days just a high school boy who was called Sol Maimon. More than 75 years later Rabbi Maimon recalls one of the JV games that he played in, about the year 1935, in which they were playing their rival, Franklin HS. On the Franklin basketball team was one of their star athletes, Frederick Charles “Hutch” Hutchinson.

    Like many outstanding athletes Hutch played a number of different sports at highly competitive levels, including basketball and of course baseball, playing all over the baseball field at different times during his career at Franklin as: catcher, pitcher, first baseman and outfielder. In addition, he was so good at baseball that he played on two American Legion teams, for Gibson’s Carpet Cleaners and Palace Fish (owned by the Alhadeff family from Cong. Ezra Bessaroth). He went on to play with the Seattle Rainiers minor league team and then pitched for the Detroit Tigers over a 10-year career. Hutch was named manager of the Tigers when he was 32 years old, serving as both a player (pitcher) and manager. At the end of his stint with the Tigers he continued as a manager, of both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Red.

    Hutch’s 1961 Reds team won the National League pennant, but lost in the World Series. The Reds were contending again in 1964, when Hutchinson was diagnosed with lung cancer and died that same year. The following year, Hutch’s brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson, a renowned surgeon, helped to create the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center as a division of the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation. Since its inception the Hutch has attained an international reputation for its cancer research and advanced cancer treatment and has help to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Now we will get back to that JV basketball game between Garfield and Franklin in 1935. As Sol Maimon was going for the ball, Hutch was going for it too, and hit Sol in the leg. Sol didn’t care who it was that struck him, he wasn’t going to take it, so he hit Hutch back on his leg. They continued playing the game with no foul being called. One player went on to become the most famous sports and baseball star that Seattle produced, and the other to be the longest practicing rabbi that Seattle has produced.

Leave a Reply to Eugene Normand Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.