In a year of no baseball, it is hard to find a bright light anywhere to celebrate America’s national pastime. But now we have one: Seattle Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon, who on April 23 was named winner of the 55thHutch Award.
A two-time All Star, a Gold Glove Award winner and one of the best base-stealers in the game, Gordon has dazzled Seattle fans with his speed and acrobatic play since he joined the team in 2018.
Yet it is his off-the-field generosity and empathy for kids who come from homes affected by domestic violence that make his selection for the Hutch Award particularly apt during this stressful year. Gordon relates so well to these children because he experienced it himself.
TheHutch Awardwas established in 1965 to honor each year a Major League ballplayer whose grit, determination and humanity recall the spirit of legendary Seattle native Fred “Hutch” Hutchinson, a pitching great who was managing the Cincinnati Reds when he died of cancer. To honor his brother, Seattle surgeon Dr. Bill Hutchinson founded Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which opened its doors in 1975.
“The Hutch Award means the world to me,” said Gordon by telephone, as he was sheltering safely at his Orlando home with his wife, Joalisya, and their 2-month-old daughter, Demi. “And this would not be possible without my wife. She’s been with me every step of the way.”
“Just to be in the same category with some ofthe great namesthat have been associated with the Hutch Award is awesome. But especially at this time, it makes me feel good to be a humanitarian in my communities, now that everyone kind of has to look out for each other,” he said.
Gordon is the third Seattle Mariner to win the Hutch Award. Jamie Moyer won it 2003, Raúl Ibañez in 2013. The first award was given to Mickey Mantle, one year after Hutch’s death.
Gordongrew up with baseball in his veins. His father, Thomas “Flash” Gordon, spent 21 years in the Major Leagues as a right-handed pitcher, both as a starter and a reliever. He played for eight teams, most of his career with the Kansas City Royals. Yet the younger Gordon only got to know his father later in his youth.
‘I wish my mom could meet her’
Gordon’s earlychildhood was traumatic. His mother, whom he remembers with deep love, raised him as a single mom. He was just a 7-year-old attending school in Florida when her boyfriend shot and killed her.
“That pain, it is something that is recurring. You never get over it. Even though I now have a daughter, I would be like, ‘I wish my mom could meet her,’” Gordon said.
He overcame that grief in part by his love for basketball, where he was a star point guard through high school, with an eye toward a pro career. But his father and uncle urged him to switch to baseball. “I thought they were crazy, but I guess they were right,” he laughed.
At 5 feet 11 inches and weighing 170 pounds., Gordon is often one of the smaller players on the field. Yet, at 32, he is a consistent hitter and still one of the quickest base runners in the league.
Gordon idolized some of the stars on his dad’s baseball teams, particularly Jimmy Rollins, the retired shortstop of the Philadelphia Phillies, a one-time National League MVP (2007) and now an NBC sportscaster.
“He was nice, always cool with me,” Gordon said. “Even when we eventually played against each other. We still talk now, so he’s my guy.”
A religious man, Gordon was raised in the church by his family on both his mother’s and father’s sides.
“I’m not perfect in my faith, but I definitely know right from wrong, and I want to use the blessings I’ve got. My contract to play baseball was a blessing, and I want to help people as much as I can,” he said.