The Hutch Award, a national honor presented by the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been given every year since 1965 in honor of Major League player and manager Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer a year earlier at the age of 45, and its list of honorees reads like a Hall of Fame roster.
Winners have included Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Joe Torre, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett and Johnny Bench.
Now Gordon joins that prestigious list, and the recognition is well-deserved. Gordon, whose mother, Leslie, is a two-time breast cancer survivor, has dedicated much of his time off the field, along with his wife, Jamie, to improving the lives of others. He has been a supporter of Alex's Lemonade Stand for eight years, and with his help, the regional foundation effort has raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research and has funded grants at Children's Mercy Hospital, the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.
Alex and Jamie Gordon also are supporters of the Diamond Dawgs, a 12-and-under baseball team from his hometown of Lincoln, Neb., that raises awareness for breast cancer by wearing pink jerseys and raising money for the American Cancer Society. Gordon also supports his teammates' many charitable pursuits and is an eager participant in club-related endeavors throughout the Kansas City community.
"It means a lot to me to win this award," said Gordon, who was joined by his wife and mother at the ballpark. "I believe, to win this award, you have to be surrounded by great people in your life, people who know about how to handle adversity.
"My mother not only beat breast cancer once, but twice, through her fighting spirit and hard work. Mom, I'm glad you're here and couldn't be prouder of you."
On Thursday, Gordon spent time in the morning at the Hutch Center and the Hutch School. After receiving the Hutch Award, a combination of a chalice interwoven with a glass sculpture by renowned Seattle artist Dale Chihuly, Gordon rolled through a series of thank-yous and pledged that he would return for Hutch Award luncheons in the future.
"To be able to visit the Hutch School was a pretty amazing experience," Gordon said. "We do a lot of charity-related things over the course of the year, and my favorite thing is to go to hospitals or schools and visit kids. They always put a smile on my face.
"And it means a lot to be able to win this award. It's exciting to be here today to learn what the Hutch is doing to raise vital funds ... for early detection and research."
Gordon said he grew up as a huge fan of Hall of Famer and Thursday's keynote speaker, Dave Winfield, and Winfield didn't disappoint the assembled crowd, which included Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik and various former big league players, including John Olerud and former Hutch Award winner Sean Casey. Winfield masterfully touched on themes somber and humorous in his 20-minute speech.
Winfield lost his mother to breast cancer and had to take a moment to gather his emotions while recalling her fight against the disease. But he also spoke of how his baseball career showed him how to learn from others, and it takes knowledge to excel, which he said is the driving force behind the great work being done at the Fred Hutch.
"This is exciting stuff," Winfield said. "You'll be able to say that in your lifetime, easily, you're going to see breakthroughs that change the world."
More information on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Hutch Award can be found at www.fhcrc.org.