SEATTLE, Jan. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Billy Butler, designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals, will receive the 47th annual Hutch Award®. The award is given each year to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson, both on and off the field.
Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will give the keynote address at the Hutch Award Luncheon and presentation on Feb. 1 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Fred Hutchinson's hometown. The event raises funds to benefit early cancer detection research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Butler, a 25-year-old native of Orange Park, Fla., made his major league debut with the team in 2007, having been selected by the Royals right out of high school in the first round of the 2004 draft. In his rookie season Butler batted .292 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs; two years later he achieved a .301 batting average while surpassing 500 at bats.
Despite his desire to play on the field, Butler was given full-time duty as the Royals' designated hitter in 2011; he turned the assignment into an opportunity to become one of the best, most consistent hitters in the American League, finishing the season with a .291 batting average, 44 doubles, 95 RBIs and 19 home runs.
Off the field, Butler is known for his selfless attitude and desire to help others. In 2008, Butler and his wife, Katie, started the Hit-It-A-Ton campaign to help feed disadvantaged families in the Kansas City area. Through the program, $250 is donated for each home run Butler hits (and $125 for each double). In its first three years, the campaign raised more than $200,000, providing more than 960 tons of food through two food banks and a community kitchen run by Kansas City's Bishop Sullivan Center.
When Butler comes to Seattle to receive his Hutch Award, he will visit cancer research labs at the Hutchinson Center as well as the Hutch School, a unique K – 12 accredited education program that serves young cancer patients and school-age family members of patients.
The Hutch Award recipient is selected annually through a vote of all surviving former awardees. A total of 46 players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award. Baseball Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock all received the Hutch Award; in more recent years Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen and Tim Hudson have joined their ranks.
For more information or to register for the Hutch Award Luncheon, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and related diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.
Christi Ball Loso
SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center