Drayer: Mariners 2B Dee Gordon’s good deeds recognized with 55th annual Hutch Award

Apr 23, 2020, 1:29 PM
Mariners 2B Dee Gordon...
Dee Gordon's charitable work is being honored with the 55th annual Hutch Award. (AP)

While Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon has always preferred to not garner notice for his acts of charity, he could fly under the radar of good deeds done for only so long. Thursday morning it was announced that Gordon has been named the winner of the 55th annual Hutch Award, one of baseball’s longest-running and most prestigious awards.

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“Man, it’s crazy,” he said from his home in Florida where he was in the middle of a baseball workout with his brother. “It’s definitely a blessing for myself and my family. I am just blessed to be a part of it.”

The list of good works Gordon has done is long. From his Flash of Hope program that aids children and families affected by domestic violence, to his contributions to Food for the Hungry and Striking out Poverty, which has assisted in communities faced with desperate situations throughout the world, to his latest effort to feed families near his home in Florida during the coronavirus outbreak, Gordon is always on the lookout for ways he can help. An appreciation for all he has and how he got there, front of mind.

“What drives me is I’m really not supposed to be here and I’m blessed to be here and play well and do everything I will ever dream to do in life because of what I do on the baseball field,” he said. “To be able to do that, I just wanted to give back.”

Born prematurely and forever the smallest player on the field, Gordon has felt the need to show that he could play better than everyone around him at every level. To even have the chance to do so is something he views as a blessing.

“That’s literally why I do it,” he said. “I was born early, I was a little. Now, 170 pounds, I have to play hard and literally play better than everyone and always be on top of my game. I kind of grew up getting in trouble for fighting, looking out for others. Now I don’t have to fight as much anymore, I can just use my blessings to help others.”

Along with the fight comes empathy. While he is the son of a longtime big leaguer, former relief pitcher Tom Gordon, Gordon had it anything but easy growing up. His life changed forever at age 7 when he arrived home to learn that the mother who had raised him had been shot and killed by her boyfriend. An unimaginable situation but one that would prompt Gordon to become active in the fight against domestic violence, working with numerous non-profits and his own Flash of Hope program, which supports children and families that have lost a loved one due to domestic violence. To see Gordon with these families at the ballpark gives you the full picture of how what he does goes far beyond just giving a name or perhaps some dollars to a cause.

“It means a lot to me because people don’t understand the importance of letting kids see someone who has gone through the things that they do, and he has actually made it,” he said. “Honestly nine times out of 10 the kids are already bigger than me or close to it so it’s good for the kid. ‘I’m going to be bigger than this guy, we went through the same thing so maybe I can do something too.’ Maybe it’s not in baseball, maybe it’s in another field, but at least they are doing something to try and be better.”

Gordon lights up when he tells stories of being able to lend encouragement to these kids. For him it is important to be hands-on in his philanthropies, to see with his own eyes what is needed and how he can be of impact both home and away. It has prompted him to travel to the Dominican Republic and Rwanda to assist in aid to communities ranging from water projects to soil and crop maintenance.

Gordon joins 14 Hall of Famers and four former Mariners (Raul Ibanez in 2013, Jamie Moyer in 2003, Omar Vizquel in 1996 and John Olerud in 1993) in receiving the awardm which is traditionally given out at a luncheon on the field before a game at T-Mobile Park. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon will be honored in a virtual event that will include other notable baseball names sometime in May.

In the past, the honoree’s day would include a stop at the Hutch School, where children who have family members who are being treated at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center can continue with their studies in a special environment and a lab tour, something I was able to come along on in the year Lou Piniella was the keynote speaker. The tour was eye-opening, getting to see the researchers at work in the labs and having the opportunity to ask questions, all the while knowing that I was standing in the place where miracles literally can happen. It’s an experience I hope Gordon can participate in when the time is right.

While the in-person luncheon at T-Mobile Park has been cancelled, supporters can still step up to the plate and donate to Fred Hutch. This year, donations will support Fred Hutch’s #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. Gifts will fuel research to end the COVID-19 pandemic, from tracking the virus to developing tests, treatments and vaccines. You can find more information on the Fred Hutch website.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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Drayer: Mariners 2B Dee Gordon’s good deeds recognized with 55th annual Hutch Award