Fred Hutchinson

One writer said Hutchinson looked like a man who had just lost an argument to an umpire – something Hutchinson often did. He was hot-tempered, given to tossing furniture about the clubhouse and smashing light bulbs after frustrating defeats. But he was extremely well-liked as a player, and as a manager, commanded love and veneration from his players.

Hutchinson was an aggressive, relentless, and smart pitcher, but did not have overwhelming speed. His career with Detroit was interrupted by four years in the Navy, but he returned in 1946 and had five consecutive winning campaigns, averaging 15 victories a season. A lifetime .263 hitter, he was used 91 times in the pinch, with four home runs – one of them his last hit, in 1953. For several years he was the AL player representative.

Hutchinson replaced Red Rolfe as Detroit manager in mid-1952. He left after the 1954 season because the Tigers would not give him more than a one-year contract. From 1956 through 1958, he managed the Cardinals. Cincinnati’s Frank Lane explained why he hired Hutchinson in 1959: “When I was general manager of the White Sox and Hutch was at Detroit, I went looking for him in Chicago one night to talk about something. I found him in a hotel room with several players, explaining the cutoff play on a blackboard. He was the first manager I ever knew who believed in night school. That impressed me.”

Hutchinson won one pennant with the Reds, in 1961, but lost the World Series to the Yankees. He battled cancer until he was forced to resign in August of 1964. Named as a coach for the ’64 All-Star Game, he moved with great effort and pain, but would not miss it. The Reds went on to finish second. When Hutchinson died at age 45 that November 12, he was voted Most Courageous Athlete and was honored by several chapters of the Baseball Writers Association with fundraising events for cancer research.