BEST OF 2018: Behind the Cards: The Fred Hutchinson Story

As 2018 comes to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at one of our very favorite posts that we have ever shared on the COMC Blog. A long time COMC user graciously submitted this incredible career retrospective of Fred Hutchinson. We’re hoping to be able to share his writing with as many sports fan as possible. This story was originally published on 03/09/2018 and is presented in it’s entirety in this blog as well

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(Note from COMC: The following post comes to us from the desk of Stan Opdyke, a lifelong fan of the game of baseball who started collecting cards over 60 years ago. He has an affinity for the Baltimore Orioles, his favorite team in his youngest days. Through his involvement in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Mr. Opdyke was inspired to research and write this brilliant look at the cards produced by the life and times of Fred Hutchinson. If you would like to submit your article to us for consideration to be published on our blog, please email us at staff@comc.com.)

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Fred Hutchinson

Fred Hutchinson, at the age of 18, began his professional baseball career in 1938 as a pitcher for his hometown Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. Baseball cards were relatively scarce items at the time, at least in comparison to what they would become after World War ll, so unsurprisingly no baseball card of Hutch was produced in his first professional season.

Hutch was sensational for the Rainiers in 1938. Pitching most of the season as an 18 year old, Hutch compiled a 25-7 won/loss record and a 2.48 ERA. On his 19th birthday on August 12, 1938, he pitched before a standing room crowd at Seattle’s Sick’s Stadium in search of his 19th victory. Hutch got the win in a game that stands with the Edgar Martinez double that defeated the Yankees in the 1995 post season as one of the most iconic baseball games ever played in Seattle.

Hutch’s superb season drew the attention of major league teams and one of the two major producers of baseball cards in the 1930’s. On December 12, 1938, the Seattle Rainiers traded Fred Hutchinson to the Detroit Tigers for four players and $50,000 Depression era dollars. The huge outlay of cash undoubtedly influenced the Goudey gum company to include Hutch in its 1939 Premium set. The other major baseball card manufacturer of the era, Play Ball, did not issue a card of Hutch in 1939. 

1939 Fred Hutchinson Goudey Premium

The 1939 Goudey Premiums are listed in the 2013 Standard Catalogue of Vintage Baseball Cards in two distinct series, R303-A and R303-B. The R303-A cards are slightly smaller but otherwise identical to the R303-B cards. Both series of 1939 Goudey Premiums are unnumbered. Hutch appears in the 303-A series. The 1939 Goudey Premiums are baseball cards in that they were issued by a gum company and depict images of baseball players. However, in other ways they are not like baseball cards at all. The smaller sized 303-A cards still measure a very large 4 inches x 6 3/16 inches, far too large to fit in anyone’s shirt pocket. The Goudey Premiums also differ from typical baseball cards because they are printed on paper stock that is about the thickness of a newspaper page. The 1939 Goudey Premiums have the look and feel of a small poster.

The photograph Goudey selected to use of Hutch is a portrait of a teenager sporting a warm grin. It is a rare photo of a smiling Fred Hutchinson. When he grew older, Hutch was given the nicknames “The Bear” and “Old Stoneface,” quite a contrast to the photo on his 1939 Goudey Premium card.

Hutch struggled in 1939.  His trouble began in Spring Training when he lost the ability to throw strikes. His lack of control would have undoubtedly cost him a major league roster spot had the Tigers not invested so much money in him. However, because of the huge cash outlay, Hutch began the 1939 season in the major leagues.

Hutch made his major league debut in one of the most significant games in baseball history. The New York Yankees played against the Tigers in Detroit on May 2, 1939, and for the first time since May 31, 1925, the name of the legendary Lou Gehrig did not appear in a regular season box score. The Yankees scored early and often without Gehrig in the line-up. With the Tigers trailing 13-0, Hutch was brought into the game by Tiger manager Del Baker. Nothing went right for Hutch. Pitching just two-thirds of an inning, he surrendered four hits, five walks and eight earned runs.

Hutch was sent to the minor league Buffalo Bisons of the International League after his disastrous major league debut. His traditional pitching numbers (won/loss and ERA) were better in Buffalo than in Detroit, but in both the major and minor leagues in 1939, his performance significantly lagged the excellent season he had for Seattle in the Pacific Coast League in 1938.

1940 Team Issued Fred Hutchinson Buffalo Bisons card

Hutch’s demotion to the minor leagues led to his second appearance on a baseball card. In 1940 the Buffalo Bisons issued a team set of baseball cards. The 1940 Bisons cards are printed on thicker paper and are much smaller then the 1939 Goudey Premium cards. The unnumbered 1940 Bisons Fred Hutchinson card shows him winding up as if he is about to deliver a pitch. The photograph was obviously staged because the picture was taken on the grass in front of a dugout rather than on a pitcher’s mound.

Hutch pitched for both Buffalo and Detroit in 1940.  Detroit won the American League pennant in 1940 and Hutch was included on the Tigers World Series roster. He pitched one World Series inning against a team he would one day manage, the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed one walk, one hit and one earned run.

In 1941 Hutch, pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, turned in a performance reminiscent of his sensational 1938 season in the Pacific Coast League. He won 26 games for Buffalo in 1941 and in 284 innings he turned in an excellent 2.44 ERA. With such a stellar season behind him, Hutch seemed destined to earn a spot on the Tigers major league roster in 1942. World War II however intervened.

Hutch enlisted in the Navy shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Navy’s physical education program. Hutch pitched for Navy teams in Norfolk, VA, Seattle, WA, and Hawaii, so during the war he was able to keep his baseball skills sharp.

The baseball players who served in the military in World War II returned en masse to organized baseball in 1946. Hutch was part of the 1946 waive of ex-servicemen returning to professional baseball.  He spent the entire year in 1946 with the Detroit Tigers. It was the first time he spent a full season in the major leagues.

1991 Reprint of 1947 Tip Top Bread Fred Hutchinson Card

In 1947 Hutch appeared for the first time on a post war baseball card. The Tip Top Baking Company issued several regional baseball card sets in 1947 to promote the sale of Tip Top Bread. The unnumbered cards feature black and white pictures with the player’s name, position, team and league affiliation printed underneath the photo. Hutch’s Tip Top Bread card features a close up portrait of him wearing a Detroit Tigers cap.

In 1948 Hutch did not appear on a baseball card. In 1949 two gum manufacturers, Bowman and Leaf, produced baseball cards of Hutch. Fred Hutchinson’s 1949 Leaf card is his highest priced card. The 1949 Leaf set is extremely difficult to complete. About half the cards in the set are short printed and Hutch’s card is among the short printed cards. His 1949 Leaf card in excellent condition is worth $900.00. By way of comparison two other Hutch cards that are also difficult to find, his 1939 Goudey Premium card and his 1947 Tip Top Bread card, have much lower prices. His Goudey Premium card in excellent condition lists at $75.00 and his 1947 Tip Top Bread card in excellent condition lists at $150.00. (All prices are from the 2013 Standard Catalogue of Vintage Baseball Cards.)

In 1950, Bowman was the only gum company to produce baseball cards. Hutch is included in the 1950 Bowman set. His 1950 Bowman card is derived from a painting that was transformed into a baseball card. The painting depicts Hutch at the very end of his follow through after delivery of a pitch. Bowman got good mileage out of the painting because they used again in 1951. That same year, Hutch was named to the American League All Star team. He pitched three innings in the 1951 mid-summer classic.

In 1952 Hutch made his first appearance on a Topps card. Topps produced its first baseball card set a year earlier, but in its initial set the company did not issue a card of Fred Hutchinson.  Topps made up for its 1951 omission by producing a magnificent card of Hutch in the 1952 set. Bowman again used a painting to create the front of its baseball cards. The artist hired to paint Fred Hutchinson must have noticed the look on Hutch’s face after he had surrendered a long home run.

The Tigers had a miserable year in 1952, almost as miserable as the look on Hutch’s face on his 1952 Bowman card. On July 5th, with the club in last place, Tiger manager Red Rolfe was fired and Hutch was hired to replace him. Hutch remained on the Tigers active playing roster after he took over as manager. He continued in his dual role as a player and a manager in 1953.

Both Topps and Bowman included a card of Hutch in their 1953 sets. Topps took a page from Bowman by using a painting as the template for the front of its 1953 cards. Bowman emulated Topps by issuing a larger baseball card in 1953 than it had produced from 1948 to 1952. (Bowman did not issue a card of Hutch in 1948).  The 1953 Bowman set is considered by most collectors as one of the best baseball card sets ever produced. Hutch’s 1953 Bowman card is representative of the picture quality that exists throughout the set.

Hutch retired as an active player after the 1953 season.  He managed the Tigers for one year after retiring as a player. Neither Topps nor Bowman included managers in their 1954 sets, so 1954 marked the first time since 1948 that Fred Hutchinson did not appear on a baseball card.
After the 1954 season ended Hutch informed the Tigers he wanted a two year contract. The Tigers refused to offer more than one year. The impasse led to Hutch’s departure from Detroit when he refused to sign the one year contact he was offered.

Hutch was out of a job, but he was not out of baseball. In 1955 he returned to his hometown to manage the Seattle Rainiers to a Pacific Coast League pennant.  A year before Hutch”s arrival, the Rainiers began issuing baseball cards to fans who purchased popcorn at the team’s home games. Seattle minor league teams issued popcorn cards every year from 1954 through 1968.  It is hardly surprising that Hutch, the popular hometown manager, was included in the popcorn cards the team produced in 1955.

In 1956 Hutch returned to the major leagues to manage the St Louis Cardinals.  Topps was the only gum company that manufactured baseball cards during the three years Hutch managed the Cardinals.

Topps did not issue a card of Hutch while he managed in St. Louis. Topps  included few cards of managers in the sets it produced from 1956 to 1958. Brooklyn’s Walt Alston and Philadelphia’s Mayo Smith were the only managers Topps included in its 1956 set.  No managers were included in the 1957 set. In 1958 Topps issued only two cards of managers, a card of Reds manager Birdie Tebbetts with two of his players, Frank Robinson and Ed Bailey, and a card on which managers Casey Stengel and Fred Haney appeared together.

Hutch enjoyed some success with the Cardinals. In 1957, St. Louis finished in second place, fueling expectations that the team would contend for the pennant in 1958. However in 1958 the Cardinals played poorly, and as a consequence, Hutch was fired shortly before the 1958 season ended.

In 1959 Hutch returned to Seattle to once again manage the Rainiers. His second stint with the club lasted only three months. He was in town long enough though to appear in the 1959 edition of Seattle Rainiers popcorn cards.

In the middle of the 1959 season, Cincinnati Reds manager Mayo Smith was fired. Hutch was chosen to replace him.  Hutch managed the Cincinnati Reds to a 1961 World Series appearance. As was customary, he served as the National League All Star manager the following year. As a result of managing in the 1962 All Star game, Hutch became one of about a dozen men in baseball history (Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra and Alvin Dark are a few of the others) to manage and play in a World Series and manage and play in an All Star game.

Hutch remained the manager of the Reds until deteriorating health caused him to take a leave of absence in 1964. Hutch appeared in each baseball card set Topps produced from 1960 through 1964.

In late December of 1963 Hutch was diagnosed with cancer. He died of the disease eleven months after he was diagnosed. Between diagnosis and death, Hutch managed the Cincinnati Reds for most of the 1964 season. The determination and courage Hutch displayed during his last baseball season is told by Bruce Markusen in his excellent Hardball Times article, available online, “The Final Year of Fred Hutchinson’s Life.”

Hutch resigned as the manager of the Reds in a letter he sent to team owner Bill DeWitt dated October 11, 1964. Exactly one month later he died in Bradenton, Florida.

#Cardstock Volume 12 – The Future is Now

#CardSTOCK is an ongoing series created by Baseball Cards Daily’s Chris Steuber that details the hobby value of baseball players based on their popularity and performance . You can check out all past editions of #CardSTOCK here. You can catch Chris’s podcast ‘Baseball Cards Daily’ for free on itunes and Google Play.

With the 2018 MLB season coming to a close, now is the time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of these five players who are quickly becoming household names. For some, the dream of the post season is still alive, while others will potentially be snubbed for awards they should win. Yeah, we’ll say it: Blake Snell for American League Cy Young! Regardless, these players made an immediate impact to their respective teams, and as a result their card values and desirability has risen tremendously.

 

 

 

#Cardstock Volume 11 – Undervalued and Under 30.

#CardSTOCK is an ongoing series created by Baseball Cards Daily’s Chris Steuber that details the hobby value of baseball players based on their popularity and performance . You can check out all past editions of #CardSTOCK here. You can catch Chris’s podcast ‘Baseball Cards Daily’ for free on itunes and Google Play.

This time around we’re highlighting a unique group of players under the age of 30 who are all experiencing different trajectories of their careers. Each of these players came into the league with high exceptions, and while some have performed better out of the gate than others, we still have faith that the others will come around. While Alex Bregman and Trevor Story cards are reaching new heights almost daily, there is still plenty of room for growth. On the other hand, cards from players such as Byron Buxton and Amed Rosario remain largely undervalued, and could see huge growth if these players can live up to their expected potentials.

Who are you investing in from this group?

Rookie Review – Five Hot Football RC’s that you need RIGHT NOW!

We are now two weeks into the NFL season, and the landscape of the league is beginning to take form. While perennial greats such as Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Julio Jones are doing their thing and posting the type of stats that are to be expected, there is a whole crop of players who have emerged from the pack and are positioning themselves to have a stand out 2018 season.  As a result of their strong performances, the collecting world has taken notice and these player’s cards have seen renewed and/or increased interest on the COMC Marketplace.

With that in mind, we want to share our top players who’s rookie cards you should consider picking up sooner rather than later. Whether you’re looking to invest and resell at a later point in time or you’re simply adding them to your collection, here’s who we think you need to consider buying right now:

Patrick Mahomes II | Quarterback | Kanas City Chiefs
38-55, 582 yards, 10 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

The 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Patrick Mahomes II has lit the NFL on fire through the Kansas City Chiefs first two victories. After his six passing touchdown performance in Week 2, Mahomes set a record for most TD’s thrown through the first two weeks of the season. Will he eclipse Peyton Manning‘s record of 55 in a season? Only time will tell, but regardless this second year stud is headed in the right direction both on the field and in the collecting world. As of this writing, his Optic Rated Rookie RC is currently selling above $12 and continue to rise with only a handful of copies available.
Our Pick: 2017 Donruss Optic #177 Rated Rookie
Alternative Pick: 2017 Panini Rookie & Stars #201 


Ryan Fitzpatrick | Quarterback | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
49-61, 819 yards, 8 Touchdowns, 1 Interception

2018 marks the emergence of ‘Fitzmagic’. Over his career, Ryan Fitzpatrick has perfected the disappearing act, as the Buccaneers are his 7th team in 12 seasons. In the wake of Jameis Winston‘s suspension, Fitzpatrick was given one more chance to shine and did he ever! Not only has he accumulated back-to-back 400 yard, 4 touchdown performances in two wins, including one against the defending Superbowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, but he’s created a buzz off the field as well. Donning teammate Desean Jackson‘s outfit, he set social media on fire with an appearance that can only be described as Conor McGregor‘s older brother. Plenty of his 2005 rookie year cards can be found on COMC, including autographs at reasonable prices (for now).
Our Pick: 2005 Bowman #180
Alternative Pick: 2005 SPX #162 /1199


Tyreek Hill | Wide Receiver | Kansas City Chiefs
12 receptions,  259 yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Return Touchdown 

With Mahomes having a record setting start, someone has to be catching all of those passes right? That someone is Tyreek Hill, who is on pace to shatter the career bests that he set in 2017. A dynamic play maker, Tyreek not only found pay dirt three times on passing plays, but he also electrified the Chiefs Kingdom by running back a 91 yard return for a touchdown as well. We could be seeing the rise of the next great QB to WR duo in the NFL.
Our Pick: 2016 Panini Prizm #296
Alternative Pick: 2016 Donruss Optic #117


Michael Thomas | Wide Receiver | New Orleans Saints
28 receptions, 269 yards, 3 Touchdowns, 2 fumbles lost

In his first two seasons, Michael Thomas has posted 1,000+ yards seasons, while hauling in 14 touchdowns combined. It’s been apparent that the talent has always been there for this 2016 2nd round pick, but Drew Brees‘ favorite target has taken it to another level in 2018. He’s hauled in 28 of the 30 balls thrown his way through the Saints first two games. Even though he has lost a couple of fumbles, Thomas is positioning himself to have a truly special 2018 if he can stay consistent. He has no shortage of rookie cards to choose from, but we prefer his 2016 Prizm over the rest of the field.
Our Pick: 2016 Panini Prizm #230
Alternative Pick: 2016 Panini Playoff #240


James Conner | Running Back | Pittsburgh Steelers
39 rushes, 150 yards, 3 Touchdowns, 10 receptions, 1 touchdown

Leveon who? In the absence of arguably the best running back in the league, James Conner has emerged in the Steeler’s backfield as a similar offensive threat. With Le’veon Bell‘s hold out having no end in sight, Conner is doing his teammate no favors by stepping up and increasing his stock, while decreasing the chances of Bell getting the big payday that he seeks. Though the Steelers are 0-1-1 on the season, Conner is a big winner among fantasy owners and card collectors alike. His rookie card market has gone from stagnant to ablaze, so we’d recommend getting in on the action sooner than later!
Our Pick: 2017 Panini Prizm #225
Alternative Pick: 2017 Panini Donruss #322 

 

That’s going to do it for this installment of rookie review. We’ll be back in a few weeks with another installment. What do you think, COMC Nation? Which NFL player’s rookie cards will you be hoarding this season?

#Cardstock Volume 10 – Onward and Upward

#CardSTOCK is an ongoing series created by Baseball Cards Daily’s Chris Steuber that details the hobby value of baseball players based on their popularity and performance . You can check out all past editions of #CardSTOCK here. You can catch Chris’s podcast ‘Baseball Cards Daily’ for free on itunes and Google Play.

This time around we’re highlighting six players who have stepped their game up in a huge way in 2018. Whether it be an immediate impact upon their big league debut, posting career highs at the plate, or helping carry their team to the postseason, these players have turned on the jets this season. As a result, their most coveted prospect and rookie cards have seen substantial growth. Who should you invest in? Check out their cardstock and decide which of these players has room for the most growth both professionally and in the world of cardboard!

 

 

Standout Sophomores – Our Second-Year Players to Watch

Week one of the 2018 NFL Season gets underway this week and we’re so very excited that gridiron action is back! It has been an extremely eventful off-season, with major free agent signings and trade deals going down even through last week. Could anyone possibly have guessed that Khalil Mack would start the season in a Chicago Bears Uniform?!!

Before the 2018 NFL season unfolds, we wanted to offer our take on six second-year players who all had great rookie seasons and appear poised to be standouts entering their second season in the league. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on offensive skill position players in fantasy sports style format, featuring one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers and a tight end.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

This kid was absolutely electric in the first half of the 2017 season, garnering early consideration for the league’s MVP award. Unfortunately for Houston Texans fans, a torn ACL sidelined Watson for the second half of the season, wiping out what could have potentially been a rookie season like none we had eer seen before.

Through seven games (6 starts), Watson threw for 1699 yards and 19 touchdowns, while throwing eight picks. His versatility also left defenses scrambling to catch up, as he added 269 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.  A healthy Watson and a strong defense should position the Texans to be a playoff contender in 2018, elevating Watson’s stock among the game’s best quarterbacks and reaffirming that the magic we saw in early in the 2017 season was just a small taste of what is to come for many years.

ConsiderationsPatrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky

 

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Kareem Hunt’s put up big numbers in 2017 – leading the league in rushing and earning a Pro Bowl as a result. Hunt lit the NFL on fire through the first five weeks in 2017 before returning to earth and posting several ho-hum performances. A strong push at the end of the season led him to finish the season with 1327 yards and eight touchdowns. Even though he hauled in 53 receptions as well, he spent this off season working with quarterbacks on route running and catching. If those efforts pay off, we could see a huge season from the second year back.

Alvin Kamara and the New Orleans Saints offense were a match made in heaven in 2017, leading Kamara to be named the 2017 AP offensive rookie of the year. Saints QB Drew Brees airs it out often, and the versatile Kamara was yet another weapon in Bree’s arsenal, hauling down 81 catches for 826 yards and five touchdowns. When they did run the ball, Kamara was effective, averaging 6.1 yards per rush, finishing the season with 728 yards and 8 TD’s. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and we expect to see a lot more of the same in 2018.

ConsiderationsLeonard Fournette

 

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Of the 2017 class, no rookie was more personable than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Starting the season as the Steelers 6th receiver, his explosive on field talent quickly moved him up the depth chart as he finished the season with 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. Schuster will line up opposite of arguably the best receiver in the game Antonio Brown in 2018, which should provide him plenty of open looks. As long as he stays focused and keep his Fortnite addiction in check, Juju has all the talent to be a top-20 receiver in 2018.

One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 rookie class was Cooper Kupp, a third round pick out of Eastern Washington University.  Kupp emerged as a serious target for Jared Goff, hauling in 62 balls for 869 yards. With the Rams on the rise, Kupp will continue to shine as the team’s juggernaut offense will simply run over defenses in 2018. Expect to see the first of what could be many 1,000 yard seasons for him, which should make at least one fellow Eastern Washington University alumni and COMC employee very happy.

 

Evan Engram, New York Giants

By all accounts, Evan Engram probably should have had the standout rookie season that he had in 2017. The New York Giants were ravaged by injuries, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall missing much of the season. This paved the way for a 64 reception, 722-yard, six touchdown performance from the Giant’s 23rd overall pick in 2017. A healthy team, coupled with rookie running back Saquon Barkley should allow Engram to slide into the offense as an outlet for Eli Manning. Engram showed us in 2017 that he has all the tools to succeed, but the question remains if he’ll get his share of looks in 2018.

Considerations: O.J. Howard

What do you think? Did we get it right? Did we sleep on your favorite under-the-radar rookie? Let us know in the comments below which second-year player you think is poised for a big 2018!

#Cardstock Volume 9 – All Stars and Almosts

#CardSTOCK is an ongoing series created by Baseball Cards Daily’s Chris Steuber that details the hobby value of baseball players based on their popularity and performance . You can check out all past editions of #CardSTOCK here. You can catch Chris’s podcast ‘Baseball Cards Daily’ for free on itunes and Google Play.

We’re just a couple weeks removed from the 2018 MLB All Star Game. As you may or may not know, the All Star Game’s participants are decided by fan vote for position players and player vote for pitchers. This means that many deserving candidates can be overlooked in favor of more popular players (as if Bryce Harper wasn’t going to be a starter in an All-Star Game held in Washington D.C.).  This time around we’re looking at four All-Stars that fans chose to be a part of this year’s festivities, and one player who came up a little bit short to the Mariners’s Shortstop Jean Segura’s #SendSegura campaign in the fan vote for the final spot.