Apparently everyone in baseball respects Hutchinson. He is not the most successful manager around or, as he will tell you himself, the smartest. But he is sincere and, above all, he is honest. The long face, with its long nose and long upper lip and deep-set eyes and that tough fighter's jaw and the scowl which it frequently wears, does, indeed, appear formidable. To strangers, Hutchinson sometimes seems unapproachable or, at best, reserved.
Actually, however, he is a warm, friendly man, with great character, strong opinions and intense loyalties. With those he knows well, the eyes twinkle and the scowl is replaced by a strange little lopsided grin and the voice is full of salty humor. And this, in turn, inspires loyalty among those who have worked with him. Everywhere he has been, they would be happy to have him back. There are those who will tell you so right now in St. Louis and in Detroit.
In six seasons as a big league manager—two with Detroit, three with the Cardinals and a half season each with the Tigers and Reds—Hutchinson has never won a pennant, although he did pull the Cards up from seventh to fourth to second before running out of gas. In his only minor league job, with the home-town Seattle Rainiers in 1955, Hutchinson finished first. That is one reason Dewey Soriano, for years the Seattle general manager, and Emil Sick, who owns the club, hired Hutch last year when he was released as Cardinal manager by Gussie Busch.
"That was quite an experience," he said at breakfast one day recently in Philadelphia, a coffee cup almost lost in his paws and that amused, crooked little smile on his face. "Dewey and the old man—Mr. Sick—have always been good to me. They figured they were doing me a favor. And I guess they were.
"Dewey said, 'How would you like to be both general manager and manager? You shouldn't have any trouble. And you can have a stock deal if you want it, too.' Well, I didn't have any place else to go, and it sounded pretty good. So I went.
"Dewey was right. I didn't have any trouble; I had nothing but trouble. Here he had been handling that general manager job so long it was a breeze for him. And he figured I could, too. That would leave me plenty of time to run the ball club on the field. Well, I'm still trying to figure out what was going on. I didn't know the players in the Pacific Coast League, I didn't know the operation, and anything I ever knew about handling books for a ball club I had forgotten. We got off to a bad start, and things kept getting worse. First thing I knew we were in the cellar—and as long as I was running things that looked like exactly where we were going to stay all season long.
"Maybe a smarter man could have handled both jobs, but it was too much for me. I belong out on the field in baseball; that's all I know. As for the stock, I just didn't have that kind of money. Mr. Sick told me I could buy a third of the ball club if I wanted to. Well, we went on a road trip at the first of the season, and by the time we got home the operating expenses amounted to about $100,000. Man, I told them I couldn't afford to own a third of that ball club."
Hutchinson was as surprised as anyone else when he got the phone call from Cincinnati.
"Oh, I had a little hint that something was going to happen four days before," he admits now. "I called them up to see about a player—Seattle has a working agreement with the Reds—and Gabe Paul told me I'd better not move any players right then. It looked like they were going to have to make some changes themselves. Well, I knew right away he meant Mayo, and I told Gabe that was too bad. Mayo is a good friend of mine. Of course in baseball you have to expect things like that.