Teahen honored with Hutch Award
Former Royal follows in footsteps of Seattle-born Hutchinson
SEATTLE -- An hour-long visit to a school that provides an education for pediatric cancer patients and their families provided two Hutch Award winners with another example of what the award is all about on Wednesday morning.
It was kids' day, and judging from the interaction between Mark Teahen and Dave Dravecky and a group of young student/patients at the Hutch School, it was a five-star event for everyone.
"To be here [at the Hutch School] and also and see what's happening gives me hope in the fight against cancer," said Teahen, whose mother, Marty, conquered breast cancer last year. "My mom is OK. She has a clean bill of health at this time and is doing great because of research centers like this."
The 28-year-old Teahen spent the past five seasons with the Kansas City Royals, excelling on the field as a third baseman and outfielder, and off the field as a community leader.
For nearly his entire tenure with the Royals, he served as a key spokesman and fundraiser for the YMCA Challenger program, a division of Little League Baseball that gives children with physical or mental challenges the opportunity to play on specially designed baseball fields. He also donated time to the Royals AbilityCAMP, an interactive baseball camp for kids with disabilities, and he has supported other causes and foundations focusing on the well-being of children.
Although he was traded to the Chicago White Sox on Nov. 6, Teahen says he remains committed to the YMCA Challenger program and recently held a fashion show in Kansas City that raised the $300,000 needed to begin the first phase of a sports facility that will included fields for baseball and football.
"Building a facility has been my goal," he said. "I hope to get it going in the spring and hopefully by summer, the kids will be playing games."
The charitable endeavors led to Teahen being selected as the 45th recipient of the prestigious Hutch Award, presented annually to the Major League player who best exemplifies the dedication to team, family and community and exemplifies the honor, courage and perseverance of Seattle-born baseball legend Fred Hutchinson.
Teahen was honored during a luncheon held Wednesday under sunny skies at Safeco Field.
"I was really overwhelmed when I saw the list of past winners, and it's an honor to be on that list," he said. "It speaks of the people I was able to surround myself with in Kansas City and things I have been able to do there. It's a huge honor and I'm really proud."
The award, previously won by Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Willie McCovey and Johnny Bench, was created to honor Hutchinson, who made his MLB pitching debut in 1939, and later managed the Reds to a National League pennant.
In December 1963, Hutchinson felt a lump in his throat and sought medical attention from his brother, Bill, who was a cancer surgeon in Seattle. His brother told him he would only live for one more year. Fred returned to the ballclub, concealed his illness, and led his team through most of the season until the illness overtook him at midseason.
He passed away in 1964 and the Hutch Award was created the following season.
After initially being presented in Cincinnati, the award ceremony was moved to Seattle in the early 1990s and the tradition continues. Visits to the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Hutch School, leave strong impressions to the Award winners.
"After taking a tour of the [Cancer Research Center on Tuesday] and getting to speak to some of the doctors, it's humbling to be honored like this," Teahen said. "It was really cool to hear what they're doing. I haven't had a science class in quite a few years, but I think I understood what they were saying.
"With all of the work they are doing, and the advances they are making, it makes it seem like we should be honoring them."
Teahen becomes the fourth Royals player to win the award, joining George Brett (1980), Dennis Leonard (1987), and Mike Sweeney (2007). There are 11 Hutch Award winners in the Hall of Fame.
Dravecky, who pitched for the Padres and Giants before losing his left arm and shoulder to cancer in 1989, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon.
"It is great to be here," Dravecky said. "When I got the award [in 1989], I couldn't be here to accept it because of the [left arm] situation."
A cancerous tumor was found in Dravecky's pitching arm in 1987 and he underwent surgery the following year, removing half of the deltoid muscle in his pitching arm and freezing the humerus bone in an effort to eliminate all of the cancerous cells.
By July 1989, he was pitching in the Minor Leagues, and on Aug. 10, made a highly publicized return to the Majors, pitching eight innings in a 4-3 victory over the Reds. In his following start against the Expos, Dravecky pitched three no-hit innings, but in the fifth inning, he felt a tingling sensation in his arm. One inning later, the humerous bone in his left arm snapped.
After the Giants won the National League championship, beating the Cubs in five games, Dravecky's arm was broken a second time during the postgame celebration. An ensuing exam revealed that the cancer had returned, ending Dravecky's baseball career.
But, as he told the students at the Hutch School, he has still maintained an athletic life -- as a fisherman, golfer and skier.
Fred Hutchinson would have been proud.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.