Outfielder Raul Ibanez, who tied Ted Williams’ 1960 major league record with 29 home runs as a 41-year-old last season with the Mariners, was named Monday the winner of the 49th Hutch Award, given annually to a major league player who best exemplifies the “honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson,” on and off the field.
Ibanez, who completed his third stint with the Mariners and is a free agent, will be honored at the Hutch Award luncheon Jan. 30 at Safeco Field. Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew will deliver the keynote address at the event, proceeds from which will benefit cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
“I’m really at a loss for words. It’s a tremendous honor; I’m humbled and grateful,” Ibañez said upon hearing the news. “It is extra special to me to win this award while playing for Seattle, Fred Hutchinson’s hometown and the city my family and I choose to make our home, as well as the home of the Hutch center and the great work they do for patients here and all over the world.”
During 16 MLB seasons, Ibanez played for the Mariners three times, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. He was a National League All-Star in 2009 (Philadelphia), a six-time Player of the Week and a two-time Mariners MVP, an honor designated by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Seattle chapter.
Ibañez has received the MLB Players Association Heart & Hustle Award three times and has four times been selected as the Mariners nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s highest honor for community service.
The Sporting News named Ibañez one the “Good Guys” in sports and he also received the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the BBWAA.
Ibanez chaired the annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament and supported Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, which works to make books available to at-risk children throughout Washington. He has also been involved with Make-A-Wish, Boys & Girls Clubs, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Treehouse, Covenant House Pennsylvania and Project H.O.M.E.
Ibanez also serves as a spokesman for “Refuse to Abuse,” the Mariners’ partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The program raises awareness of violence in intimate relationships through public service announcements in English and Spanish.
The Hutch Award recipient is selected annually through a vote of all surviving former awardees. A total of 48 players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural. Baseball Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock are past recipients. In more recent years, Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen, Tim Hudson, Billy Butler and Barry Zito have won the award.