“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.