These are a few photos I snapped today while Hutch Award winner Tim Hudson, his wife Kim, and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan met with the kids at the Hutch School in Seattle. The Hutch School is a marvelous facility, the nation’s only full-time school for the children and siblings of cancer victims, as well as the youthful patients themselves. It’s an annual stop for the Hutch winner, an honor Hudson is receiving at a luncheon this afternoon, with Morgan as the keynote speaker.
After addressing the attentive students and fielding some questions, Hudson and Morgan spoke with a few media personnel who were on hand. I’ve talked to every Hutch winner since David Cone in 1998, and as I mentioned yesterday, they are always in awe of the work done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and touched by the kids at the Hutch School.
“What they’re doing here is what’s really important,” Hudson said.
Hudson and his wife have worked over the years with various children’s charities, and started the Hudson Family Foundation in 2009. He said the prestige of the Hutch Award began to sink in when he perused the list of winners, which includes Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor and Andre Dawson.
“It’s pretty exciting, man,” he said. “Even my buddy Jason Giambi is on that list in 2000. I think one thing that list has in common — all the guys on there, the ones that I know, are really great guys, and have great hearts. Not only that, they have a passion for the game, and for helping others. As professional athletes, major-league players, we’ve been blessed with an opportunity to do good with the pedestal we’ve been blessed with — baseball. If you’re not trying to do good with what your blessed with, it’s a detriment to the game.”
Hudson said this is his first trip to Seattle since he was traded to the Braves after the 2004 season. For six years with the A’s, as a prominent member of their vaunted “Big Three” (along with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder), Hudson has fond memories of the then-heated Oakland-Seattle rivalry.
“Yeah, some of the funnest games I ever played in were here in Seattle. Back in 2000, 2001, when Ichiro first came over, Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone – this stadium was absolutely a madhouse. It was one of the funnest places to come and play. Their fans were nuts, and their stadium was loud. They had a great team, we had a really good team in Oakland. It was always a dogfight. As a competitor and as a major-league player, you enjoy that tough competition. It was fun. The AL West was always a tossup. Then Anaheim got in the mix, and they were good for awhile. It was always exciting baseball around here.”
In those six years from 1999-2004, the A’s exceeded 90 wins five times, the Mariners four times, and the two teams combined for six postseason appearances. Hudson said he’s proud of the fact that he was the first pitcher to face Ichiro in the major leagues, on Opening Day of the 2001 season at Safeco Field. In his major-league debut, Ichiro grounded out to second base against Hudson.
That would be a familiar outcome, in fact. Ichiro has 69 plate appearances against Hudson, the fifth-most versus any major-league pitcher. Asked how he’s fared, Hudson replied, “I don’t know how, but I’ve done OK against him. He always hit the ball hard off me, but he always hit it to my second baseman. The only reason I’ve done well against him is because we had him positioned in the right place. We had him played just right. It’s not that I was that good, but our bench coach was that good at positioning our guys.”
Indeed, Ichiro has just a .215 average off Hudson (14-for-65), with three doubles and one home run. As comparison, against the four pitchers he’s faced more often than Hudson, Ichiro is hitting .293 off John Lackey (96 plate appearances), .397 off Kevin Millwood (83 plate appearances), .325 off Zito (81 plate appearances) and .333 off Bartolo Colon (76 plate appearances).
By the way, Hudson is getting a little tired of seeing Ichiro gun down his Oakland teammate, Terrence Long — the 2001 throw that put Ichiro’s arm on the map.
“Oh, yeah. I see it like once a month on MLB channel – ‘best arms in the history of the game.’ There’s Ichiro firing him out. He’s something, man. It’s always cool. I can always say I was the first major-league pitcher to pitch against him. I was the first one to face him here in Seattle, that Opening day when he came over. He’ a great player, no question about it. He’s going to go down as one of the best.”