Athletics

A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty accepts prestigious 54th Hutch Award

A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty accepts prestigious 54th Hutch Award

“You never know when life is going to throw you a curveball, as it did a few months ago when Stephen was diagnosed with Melanoma. It was successfully removed and we’re thankful.”

Mike Piscotty accepted the 2019 Hutch Award on behalf of his son, A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty, at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Wash. during the annual award luncheon.

Stephen was nominated in May for the prestigious honor "in part for the courage and commitment he displayed when his mother, Gretchen, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)," the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said in a press release.

“On behalf of my son Stephen I wish to thank the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center for this great honor," Mike said. "It’s truly an honor to be present here.”

Mike Piscotty, father of Hutch Award winner Stephen Piscotty accepts the award on his son’s behalf (photo via Fred Hutch/Robert Hood)

Stephen sent in a video to accept the award while he was on the road with the A's.

"I just wanted to say I'm very honored to be this year's Fred Hutchinson Award winner," Stephen said in the broadcast that was presented at the luncheon. "I want to thank everyone who made this possible especially those at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center -- thank you very much."

The video also showed pictures and footage of the Piscotty family including a touching tribute to his late mother, Gretchen.

"Going through some of the stuff off the field, and caring for my mom and ultimately with her passing was not an easy thing to handle, you know, going through a baseball season at the same time," the outfielder added.

"You know, the baseball field was a bit of a safe haven for me where I could kind of take my mind off those things. But it was a very challenging year-- and not just for me, but for my entire family. You know, we felt good about everything we did and supporting my mom and we had a tremendous amount of help and we were able to have lasting memories up until the day she passed."

"My dad started the ALS Cure Project and I've been doing my best to help support and promote this project and ultimately, the end goal is to find a cure and give folks hope," said Stephen.

“Stephen and I started ALS Cures last fall … to cure ALS so no one would have to suffer [my wife’s] fate," Mike added during his speech.

Mike also noted some of the research he discovered while starting the project. 

“We’ve learned there are no tests for ALS, there are no biomarkers. We’ve learned that without biomarkers we cannot measure disease progression. We’ve learned that without an understanding of the ALS disease mechanism it is impossible to come up with a cure. This is not an easy problem.”

“We need to do foundational research on disease mechanisms and biomarkers to guarantee success. The problem is there is no money in foundational research.”

This summer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research is celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its namesake, baseball legend Fred "Hutch" Hutchinson. Hutch was a winning pitcher and managed three MLB teams. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1963 and passed away shortly thereafter in 1964. His brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson, created the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a living memorial for Fred with the mission to cure cancer. 

This year alone, the luncheon raised close to $600K to fund research. That's in addition to the over $6.5 million raised over the last 19 years. 

[RELATED: Piscotty has emotional reunion in St. Louis]

Jim Abbott was the 2019 keynote speaker at the award ceremony. Despite being born without a right hand, Abbott had a successful big league career, which included throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. 

Hutch Award keynote speaker Jim Abbott addresses the crowd of 700+ luncheon attendees (photo via Fred Hutch/Robert Hood)

“If there is one thing that I took away from my playing days, it is that so many great things can happen in this world. Let’s keep trying to make those things happen,” Abbott said in front of 700+ people in attendance.

Now you can see why Piscotty, and his family, were so deserved of such an inspiring award. 

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Baseball can occasionally manifest some pretty fascinating personal connections.

Like how Mike Fiers, the eldest starter in the A's rotation, currently is forging an even tighter bond with Jesús Luzardo, one of his youngest counterparts.

“He only lives like 10 minutes from me,” Fiers told NBC Sports California on Tuesday from Florida. “So it’s not even like the home state, it’s like the home city.”

But their acquaintance didn’t start in Oakland. It actually began in the late 2000s.

“I remember him as a 10-, 11-year-old kid,” Fiers said. “Throwing bullpen [sessions] over by my high school, and helping out over there.”

Fiers has been following the lefty’s journey ever since. What a coincidence they’d end up on the same big league team.

“Obviously he became a big name coming through high school," Fiers said, "and his velocity getting up there, and then being a high draft pick.”

Now the two are workout partners in the strangest of times, with MLB, sports and much of life on complete pause.

Fiers and Luzardo get together every couple of days and complete socially-distanced pitching workouts, where they are able to push and provide each other inspiration.

“We cut it down to only a couple of guys,” Fiers said of the workouts. “We know how serious this thing is, and nobody wants to jeopardize their families and their livelihood.”

[RELATED: Fiers gifted Profar, Laureano for catches to save no-hitter]

The pair are taking thorough precautions in the no-contact sessions, which also feature strategically placed bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. There’s also a portable pitching mound, supplied by Fiers.

“We actually took that out to a church,” Fiers said. “It’s the only place we have left, a church parking lot. There’s a field next to it. So we just keep that pitching mound under a tree.”

It’s hardly the Coliseum, but it will have to do for now.

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

It was a unique night. 

Back on May 7, 2019, the lights went out at Oakland Coliseum, causing a delay in play for the A’s as they hosted the Cincinnati Reds. On that same night, A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career.

He threw 131 pitches in the outing which was the most since, well, his previous no-hitter in 2015 with the Houston Astros.

It was also an entertaining display for those watching.

In the sixth inning, Jurickson Profar made a spectacular catch at second base to help Fiers preserve his no-no. It was immediately followed by a stellar catch from center fielder Ramón Laureano to rob Joey Votto of a home run. The robbery would have made Mike Trout blush. 

They were rewarded for their efforts, as Fiers compensated the two with a gift.

“Yeah, I had to,” Fiers told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That’s just something that happens in baseball. Someone makes a great play and for the game to turn out the way it did for me, it’s a big accomplishment for me, so for them to help me in that way, to go out of their way to make a crazy play, you got to give them a little something.”

Fiers said they got “nice little watches.”

“It wasn’t anything too crazy,” Fiers said. 

He said he appreciates everyone on the team and would have gifted every guy a watch, but admitted it would have been pricey at that point.

[RELATED: Watch A's defensive gems preserve Fiers' no-hitter]

If A's third baseman Matt Chapman received a watch for every stellar play he made, the watch industry would never suffer again.

It’s nice to see Laureano and Profar were taken care of.