SEATTLE -- Barry Zito already had a pretty impressive year going, but the Giants left-hander topped it off on Thursday with the announcement that he is the winner of the 48th annual Hutch Award that will be presented on Jan. 30 at Safeco Field.
The award is given to a Major League player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication on and off the field of former baseball great Fred Hutchinson, whose legacy helped spur the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Lou Piniella, former manager of the Mariners, Yankees, Reds, Rays and Cubs, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.
Zito, 34, capped a tremendous bounce-back year on the field by going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 32 regular-season starts, then helped lead the Giants to the World Series title by going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three postseason starts, including a Game 1 victory over the Tigers' Justin Verlander in the Fall Classic.
But Zito's considerable impact carries off the field as well, where he has founded "Strikeouts For Troops," a non-profit organization supported by more than 100 Major League players, coaches and managers as well as athletes from other sports. The foundation provides the comforts of home to injured troops and their families undergoing treatment at military hospitals across the nation.
Zito and his wife, Amber, also support the St. Anthony Foundation, which provides thousands of meals every day to San Francisco's homeless. They also support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish Foundation, global illiteracy, organ donation and cancer research.
When the Zitos come to Seattle for the Jan. 30 Hutch Award Luncheon, they will tour research labs at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and visit children at the Hutch School, a program that serves young cancer patients and school-age family members of patients who are staying at the Fred Hutch Center.
The Hutch Award recipient is selected annually through a vote of all surviving former award winners. A total of 47 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; while recent winners include Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen, Tim Hudson and Billy Butler.
The other nominees for the 2012 award were Alex Gordon of the Royals, Jake Peavy of the White Sox, Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, Dan Uggla of the Braves, Ryan Ludwick of the Reds, Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, Brandon McCarthy of the A's, Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals and Logan Morrison of the Marlins.
For more information or to register for the Hutch Award Luncheon, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.