SEATTLE -- Outfielder Raul Ibanez, a consistent force on and off the field over his 18-year Major League career, was selected Tuesday as the recipient of the 49th annual Hutch Award to be presented at a benefit luncheon at Safeco Field on Jan. 30.
The national award is given each year to an MLB player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of former baseball standout Fred Hutchinson, whose struggle with cancer led to the formation of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Hall of Fame infielder Rod Carew will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon, which has helped raise $3.8 million over the past 14 years to support cancer research at the Fred Hutch Center.
"I'm really at a loss for words," Ibanez said. "It's a tremendous honor. I'm humbled and grateful. 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."
Ibanez, 41, became a free agent after hitting 29 home runs last season for the Mariners, tying him with Ted Williams for the most homers in a season by a player 40 or older.
The Hutch Award is selected annually through a vote of all surviving former winners. Forty-eight players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award. Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock are among the 11 Hall of Famers to have won the award.
There have been 11 league Most Valuable Players to win the honor and seven World Series MVPs. Recent winners have included Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen, Tim Hudson, Billy Butler and Barry Zito.
Ibanez has played for the Mariners, Royals, Phillies and Yankees over his lengthy career. He was a National League All-Star in 2009 with the Phillies and has been a two-time Mariners MVP, as selected by Seattle's chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Ibanez has received the MLB Players Association Heart & Hustle Award three times and has been the Mariners nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball's highest honor for community service, on four different occasions. The Sporting News named him one of the "Good Guys" in sports and he also received the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the BBWAA.
His many community activities include chairing the annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament; supporting Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, which works to make books available to at-risk children throughout the state of Washington; and involvement 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.
Ibanez and his wife, Tery, live in Issaquah, Wash., with their two sons, Raul Jr. and Luca, and three daughters, Sophia, Victoria and Carolina. As a member of the Seattle community, he's well aware of the efforts of the Fred Hutch Center, which was founded in 1975 by Seattle surgeon Dr. William Hutchinson in honor of his brother, Fred, who died of lung cancer at age 45.
Fred Hutchinson was a Seattle native who attended the University of Washington before going on to become an All-Star pitcher for the Tigers and manager of the Tigers, Cardinals and Reds before his death in 1964.
"Fred Hutchinson exemplified honor, courage and dedication, traits that we should all try to live our lives by," Ibanez said.
Ibanez was selected from 10 nominees. The others were: Jeremy Affeldt of the Giants, Craig Breslow of the Red Sox, Neal Cotts of the Rangers, John Danks of the White Sox, Sean Doolittle of the A's, Alex Gordon of the Royals, Scott Kazmir of the Indians, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Jason Motte of the Cardinals.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.