McCutchen comes from Fort Meade, Florida, a phosphate mining town of 5,000 people in the center of the state, about 70 miles east of St. Petersburg. He didn't have a lot of coaching before signing with the Pirates.
Andrew always wanted to be a Major Leaguer.
"I was probably 5 years old when I first started playing T-ball and I knew then that playing in the big leagues is what I wanted to do," McCutchen said. "We'd watch the Atlanta Braves play on TV all the time back when a lot of their games were on TBS. I'd watch those games when I was a little kid and I'd be fascinated.
"I always felt this is where I was going to be and I've always prided myself on being the best I could possibly be. I have high standards for myself, and I expect to reach them."
Andrew's father, Lorenzo, was a youth minister at the non-denominational church where Andrew sang in the choir, Lorenzo has served as the consummate role model for his son. He grew up in Fort Meade, played college football at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, married his high school sweetheart (who played volleyball just down the road at Polk Community College), and settled back in his hometown.
Andrew credits his father for instilling in him the character and determination that have not only helped him seize his potential, but also serve as the foundation of a makeup that scouts universally grade as above average.
It never mattered that Lo, his dad, had just finished an overnight shift at the mines, smelling of phosphate with arms caked in mud. Barely able to stay awake, Lo would take his son's small hand an lead him imto the early-morning Central Florida sun, out to the open field behind the trailers.
Lo would carry with him a paper bag filled with Wiffle balls, or sometimes fishing corks wrapped in electrical tape to make them round. Andrew carried a long broomstick handle. The way Lo saw it, drills with balls that quivered through the air unpredictably were good for the boy's hand-eye coordination. On a real field, the baseballs would look big as cantaloupes. The youngster attacked each pitch that his daddy fired with that stick.
This was football country, and Lo had known many talented young men with dreams of playing for the Gators or 'Noles who ended up working the mines and the orange groves. Lo was one of those dreamers once, a star running back in high school. Now the dream was passed on to his son. (Albert Chen - Sports Illustrated - 9/8/2014)
Andrew's mother, Trina, was 16 when she found out she was pregnant. It was crushing. When she told her parent the news, she could see the disappointment on her mother's face. Lo, 17, was by her side, just as scared as Trina. He was the star running back at Fort Meade High and hoped to play in college; Trina was a volleyball star who already had a scholarship to play at Polk Community College.
After Andrew was born, Trina went to Polk, and the baby was left with Trina's mom and sister during the day. After two years Trina's time at Polk was up, and while her friends and teammates moved on to bigger schools, she "hit a low point. It was like, what could I do next? I couldn't afford college with a child. I had to grow up really fast."
Lo went to Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and redshirted his freshman year. Football was his love, but deep down he knew what he had to do: Lo's father had abandoned him when he was young, and he had told himself he wouldn't do the same.
"I had to grow up, make some decisions," Lo says. "And the decision was to come home."
So Trina and Lo both found themselves in Fort Meade. Trina decided that there was no one better to teach Andrew to be a man than his father. And so Lorenzo McCutchen and Petrina Swan were married on August 1, 1992. That day they made a pact: They were going to raise this child right, with all the work and all the love that would be required.
They moved into a trailer park in Bartow, 10 miles north of Fort Meade, and Trina got a job as a data entry clerk at the Fort Meade sheriff's department for about $7 an hour. Lo juggled three jobs: He was the assistant manager at Fort Meade's grocery store, he fried chicken at Junior Foods down the street, and at night he bounced from one phosphate mine to another. (Albert Chen - Sports Illustrated - 9/8/2014)
Fort Meade High didn't make the high school baseball playoffs, going 8-14 with a schedule that saw the team struggle against teams from higher classifications. But McCutchen managed to bat .709-11-28 with eight doubles, three triples, 23 walks, and six strikeouts.
Plus, Andrew graduated with a 3.8 grade point average.
One scout from a Major League team asked his high school coach, "I want to know something bad about Andrew McCutchen."
The coach was stumped.
"Well, there was this time he missed practice," coach said. "Why?" said the scout. "His truck broke down on the highway."
It capped a remarkable career at a school that is best known for its football tradition. Fort Meade captured its first state football title this year, finally taking the prize in its fifth trip to the state finals in the previous six years.
McCutchen was a standout wide receiver before he injured his knee, tearing both the ACL and MCL in the open field on a rainy night his sophomore season. It was an injury that made him reflect on his priorities. This was, after all, a player who batted .507 as an eighth grader.
McCutchen decided the risk of playing football wasn't worth sacrificing his baseball ambition. While he was recovering from knee surgery.
During McCutchen's senior year at Fort Meade High School in Fort Meade, Florida. in 2004, he batted .474 with eight home runs, 40 runs batted in (RBIs), 45 stolen bases, and only four strikeouts.
He also played football and ran track. McCutchen was one of the top football recruits in the state of Florida but opted for a career in baseball. He was also a part of a state title winning 4 x 100 meter relay his freshman year of high school.
Size shouldn't be a factor when it comes to Andrew. He doesn't expect his size to keep him from reaching the big leagues either.
"I'm not the only small guy out there," said McCutchen. "There are plenty of people who play in the big leagues who are as big as I am. I'm sure as I get stronger and develop I'll develop into a bigger player. That's kind of scary thinking about that.
"My parents taught me ever since I was little to always be a humble person," said McCutchen. "The Lord God blessed me with all of these talents and all of these abilities. He can also easily take them away."
Andrew's first job was as a bank custodian.
Before 2006 spring training, McCutchen was rated the second best prospect in the Pirates organization by Baseball America. And in the spring of 2007, they rated Andrew as the #1 prospect in the Pittsburgh farm system. And he was back at #1 in the Pirates organization in the spring of 2008.
In the winter before 2009 spring training, the magazine had Andrew at second best in the Pittsburgh farm system, behind only Pedro Alvarez.
During 2006 spring training, Pirates manager Jim Tracy described McCutchen as: "Instinctive. Poised. For a kid of his age, he's off the charts. He's going to be a good Major League player someday, a really good Major League player."
Andrew didn't get tired at the end of the 2006 season, and he believes it is because he gets his rest and eats right.
"It's a big advantage to know how to cook," McCutchen said. "Our family has always eaten healthy, but being out on my own for the first time, I can still make things that are good for me. I don't fall into any bad habits of eating fast food all the time." (John Perrotto-Beaver Valley Times-September 2006)
During 2007 spring training with the Pirates, McCutchen was in 18 games, hitting .308 average (16 for 52), sixth-highest among those Pirates with at least 30 at-bats. But he was still sent to minor league camp.
He has leadership ability. And his teammates pull for Andrew because he is such a good guy. He has the personality to be both a fan favorite and a leader. He has a warm smile and a good sense of humor off the field. On the field, he plays with great joy but is also a fierce competitor who takes losing and personal failure to heart. (John Perrotto-Baseball America-10/28/09)
During the 2008 season with Indianapolis, McCutchen reached base in 27 consecutive games, thanks in part to a 13-game hitting streak.
"I want to be consistent," Andrew said. "I believe consistency is something all big leaguers have, and that it's something that keeps some players away from the big leagues.
"Even if the hits aren't there, I want to have productive at-bats, draw walks, steal bases and score runs. Even if you don't have a hit, you can have a productive day," McCutchen said.
Andrew is thankful to have the occupation he has.
"I have to pray before my games because God is the one who got me in the position that I'm in now. I have to thank Him for that," McCutchen said.
Andrew says his favorite restaurant is Texas de Brazil, a chain of Brazilian-style steakhouses.
For music, he likes rap (especially Lil Wayne), R&B, and gospel.
He doesn't drink alcohol at all.
McCutchen says he would like to meet Eddie Murphy.
In 2009, McCutchen showed great maturity in his rookie season with the Pirates as he was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 4 and given the difficult task of replacing center fielder Nate McLouth, who had been traded to Atlanta the night before. In 2008, McLouth had won the Gold Glove award and played in his first All-Star Game.
"He wasn't awed by the big leagues," Doumit told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. "He was up for four months and there was never a time where he struggled for an extended period. He didn't play like a rookie. He played like a 10-year veteran."
McCutchen also showed the ability to come through in the clutch, particularly on Aug. 25 against Philadelphia when he stepped to the plate against closer in the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied 4-4, none out and teammate Brandon Moss on second base. After misplaying Shane Victorino's line drive in the top of the ninth that enabled the Phillies to tie the game, McCutchen was just looking to hit a ball to right side to advance Moss to third but instead drove a 96-mph fastball into the right-center field seats for a game-winning two-run home run.
"It was the perfect at-bat," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "He did the right thing mechanically and mentally, and he miss-hit the ball and won the game with a home run. That sounds silly to say, but he was trying to hit a line drive to the gap and he was under it by a shade, and it left the ballpark."
McCutchen developed a close friendship with fellow outfielder Lastings Milledge after he was acquired from the Nationals in a trade during the 2009 season. Both players were first-round draft picks as high school seniors in Florida, Milledge selected by the Mets in 2003 from Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton and McCutchen taken by the Pirates in 2005 from Fort Meade High School.
"I'm glad to see that they finally came together," McCutchen's father, Lorenzo, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Chuck Finder during spring training in 2010. "Because when Andrew was coming up, they always called him 'the young Milledge,' tht kind of stuff. For them to come together, and here they are playing together, is is something."
In 2010, McCutchen had clearly assumed a leadership by the time spring training began, even though he had just four months of Major League experience.
"Andrew goes about his business the absolute way you want people to," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "So, he should be a good influence on anybody."
McCutchen's father was not surprised to see his son quickly become a player his teammates looked up to.
"Andrew has always been mature for his age," Lorenzo McCutchen said. "He knows that this is his destiny. We tried to prepare for it as much as we could. He's walking in it right now.
"For one thing, I had a cousin who was a professional football player, and he didn't do all the right things. Matter of fact, he ended up on drugs and all that stuff. So we always told Andrew: 'Make sure you don't end up this way. Do right and stay humble.' So far, he's doing that."
On May 14, 2010, Pirates manager John Russell, who isn't prone to hyperbole, had praise for McCutchen after he went 5-for-5 with five runs scored against the Cubs.
"He's so dynamic," Russell said. "Not just talent-wise. He's got a great head on his shoulders. He handles adversity well. He handles success very well. He's a very level-headed young man. That's why I talk about him being a very dynamic player in all facets, it's not just one or two things, or how he plays. It's everything about him."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland joined the growing legion of McCutchen admirers. Leyland was the Pirates' manager from 1986 to 1996 and still lives in Pittsburgh.
"He's going to be a superstar, no question about it," Leyland said. "He's one of the more exciting young players in baseball. He can fly. He's got power. Nice to build around a center fielder like that. He's a franchise player." (Chuck Finder-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-6/13/10)
If it were up to the students at Linton Middle School in Penn Hills, Pa., there would be little doubt who is the Pirates' "Face of the Franchise." During a winter caravan stop there in January 2011, Ross Ohlendorf got noisy applause. There were claps and whoops when Evan Meek was introduced. The cheers got even louder when Andrew McCutchen took a bow. But the crowd of 700 fifth- and sixth-graders saved its loudest, longest screams for ... the Pirate Parrot.
"He's been here longer than me," McCutchen said, grinning. "I can't compete with that."
"The face of a franchise is the guy you put on the cover of the media guide," said Andrew Fernbach, a public relations executive at DeGennaro Communications in New York. "If he's a pitcher, you buy tickets when it's his turn in the rotation. If he's a position player, you make sure you're not in line at the concessions when he's at bat. And from a marketing standpoint, he's the guy you sign to an endorsement deal if money is no object."
"McCutchen is the No. 1 guy now," said former Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen, a special instructor in spring training camp who interacts with every player on the club. "He's got talent and personality. He's a good guy. This is his team." (Rob Biertempfel-Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-3/27/11)
It stands to reason that anyone who becomes a professional athlete is a competitor. And competitive people hate to lose. Thus, it is easy to understand why Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is not completely satisfied with his first two seasons in the Major Leagues.
It doesn't matter that McCutchen has the look of a future superstar and, in many respects, has already established himself as the Pirates' leader.
The Pirates have gone 62-99 and 57-105 the past two seasons. To McCutchen's way of thinking, those hideous records have wiped out a lot of satisfaction he might be able to take from hitting .286 with 28 home runs and 55 stolen bases in his first 262 games.
"I hate to lose," McCutchen said "I don't care if it's spring training, an intrasquad game, or two square, I'm out to win."
Two square? McCutchen described it as a game played with a volleyball and two or four players on a court with two squares. The team that wins is the one that puts the ball in its square or sends the ball out of bounds.
McCutchen is hopeful that the worst of the losing is over. He is confident that the hiring of manager Clint Hurdle will add spark to the team.
"There's a different feeling here this year," McCutchen said. "We know we have talent and we're not going to settle for losing. We feel like we have some young guys here, who if we can continue to develop, can form the nucleus of a good team." (John Perrotto-Beaver County Times-2/28/11)
In August 2012, Pirates manger Clint Hurdle said of McCutchen: "I don't think I've ever met a more intelligent, mentally-tough, balanced young man in my life. I've had some conversations with him in the past month that have been awesome. Interesting. I don't know what it's like to go on the field and have people screaming 'M-V-P!' for you. I know what it's like to go on the field and have people screaming at you."
To truly appreciate McCutchen's athleticism, you have to watch him make behind-the-back catches of 380-foot flies while shagging in center during batting practice.
Andrew's celebrity fame began to show after a great 2012 season. He appeared on the video game cover of MLB '13 The Show, with McCutchen taking his well-earned and richly deserved place on the popular game's cover.
He smiles when he recalls the story about the little girl who was so excited about meeting him on the Pirates' winter caravan before 2013 spring training, that she burst into tears. On that same caravan, a Pirates fan in his 20s asked McCutchen to hold the engagement ring while he proposed to his (the fan's) girlfriend.
Favorite pregame meal: "Something from Subway," McCutchen says.
"Cutch's Crew," begun in 2010, mentors inner city at-risk youth and baseball players in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Attending games and special clinics at PNC Park are features of the program.
September 17, 2013: Andrew was one of 30 nominees for the 2013 MLB Roberto Clemente Award, was presented with the Pirates Roberto Clemente Award in a brief but illustrious pregame ceremony. Vera Clemente, the late humanitarian's widow, and Pirates club chairman Bob Nutting participated in the presentation to McCutchen.
August 8, 2013: Andrew's mother, Petrina McCutchen, belted out the national anthem prior to the Pirates game vs. the Diamondbacks in PNC Park. Not surprisingly, she hit all the notes.
October 1, 2013: For the second time in two months, Petrina McCutchen delivered the national anthem prior to a Pirates game. This time, Andrew's Mom had a lot of help. Caught up in the emotion of Pittsburgh's first postseason game in 21 years, the sellout crowd of 40,487 sang along with her, part of the amped-up fans' loud and vocal pregame celebration.
2013 Players Choice Award: For the second year in a row, standout center fielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates was named National League Outstanding Player. Andrew's accomplishment can be attributed to his success in all phases of the game. At the plate, Andrew attained an impressive .317 batting average, with 84 RBIs, 185 hits, 21 home runs, and .404 OBP.
November 2013: McCutchen and David Ortiz are becoming a producer of his own MTV television show. MTV Networks and Major League Baseball said they are collaborating on a weekly 30-episode series that melds pop culture and baseball. Ortiz and Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen are both executive producers of the series, set to begin next spring around the start of the new season.
In 2013, McCutchen was named the National League MVP. And he won by a healthy margin, drawing 28 of the 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
McCutchen, third in MVP balloting last season, got 409 points. Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished second with 242, while St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina received the other two first-place votes and came in third.
Andrew became just the fourth National League center fielder to win the MVP award in MLB history. He joins Willie McGee (1985), Dale Murphy (1982, 1983), and Willie Mays (1954, 1965).
November 2013: McCutchen comes from a very musical family, so it shouldn't be too surprising to hear he was asked to be a presenter at the 2013 American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Cutch gave out the award for Favorite Male Artist—Country.
December 11, 2013: Andrew proposed to his girlfriend of four years, Maria Hansloven, on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." McCutchen introduced a video about rounding the bases in their relationship, brought Hansloven on stage, gave some heartfelt thoughts, and got down on one knee.
"I've always envisioned that I would be on the highest mountain in the world and that my voice would be as loud as a lion's roar times a billion so the whole world could hear me just tell you how much that I love you," McCutchen said, standing on stage with Hansloven seated next to DeGeneres. "I didn't do any of this for the publicity; I didn't do any of this for the recognition. I did this to show you that if I could tell the whole world how much that I love you, I would do that."
With that, McCutchen got down on one knee to the delight of the studio audience, and DeGeneres relayed the positive response from Hansloven to all.
DeGeneres presented Hansloven with roses, and then broke out a veil for her and a top hat for McCutchen—both emblazoned with the Pirates' "P" logo.
November 22, 2014: McCutchen was married exchanging vows with Maria Hanslovan during a private ceremony.
- On June 16, 2013, during a Pirates-Dodgers game at PNC Park, McCutchen hit a foul ball that looked like countless other foul balls hit every season. This foul ball was different though. This ball apparently kick-started the labor of the pregnant fan who caught it.
"I told (my husband) that if one came my way I was ducking with my purse overhead," said the fan, Tiffany Gardone, to MLB.com. Her due date was still two weeks away and, in fact, she was at the doctor earlier that day and was told "no way I was close to having a baby anytime soon." And yet, at 11:36 pm that night, young Jeremiah was born.
Tiffany said she began to feel cramping and having contractions after catching the foul ball, and "it got to the point where (she) was intermittently crying (due to pain) and laughing." Tiffany and her husband Micah left for the hospital in the eighth inning. (Jason Grilli struck out Hanley Ramirez to nail down the 6-3 win a few minutes later.)
The story came full circle in December 2013, when Tiffany, Jeremiah and the whole family got a chance to meet McCutchen at the team's annual PiratesFest. He signed the foul ball, of course.
When McCutchen was asked to identify the most significant ways he's grown as a person and as a ballplayer since he signed with the Pirates out of high school, he quickly cited changes in two different categories. "You definitely grow in a lot of ways, and one is physically. I remember being 18 years old and 165 pounds, soaking wet," said McCutchen, who weighs about 185 now.
"I've learned a lot of different things. Like I've learned how to deal with failure. I hit .700 in high school, and I went into pro ball thinking that I could hit somewhere around there still. I really did think that. But you learn that you can't. All of the things you experience, they all help you in the long run. And that was a big one for me, learning how to deal with failure." McCutchen says he has no plans to rest on his laurels, and he's convinced that he can still improve. "I don't care if I'm 40 years old and still playing the game, I'll be going into the next year saying, 'I can get better,'" McCutchen explained. "That's always going to be my mindset. I don't feel like I've reached my pinnacle. Honestly, I don't." (Lachimia – MLB.com - 2/04/14)
McCutchen's clubhouse democracy in action: He may be the team's senior member (he beat Charlie Morton by six days), but you'll get no reminders of that from him.
"If Marte wants to say something to me, I'm not going to say, 'Hey, dude, I've been in the big leagues longer than you have. I'm not going to listen to you.' If we want to win," McCutchen said, "we have to be open to hearing other players. When you have that understanding, it creates a really good vibe in the clubhouse."
"Everyone always looks for that one person to lead," Andrew said, "but there are others who can lead in different ways. By example, by words, by offering some good words of advice. I think we all lead to a certain extent, and that isn't something we've had in the past."
Communication, in other words, is big in the clubhouse. It figures to be even bigger in the Pirates outfield when it includes Marte, McCutchen, and Gregory Polanco. The center fielder is as enthusiastic about those prospects as is any fan.
"Oh, yeah, it's going to be awesome," McCutchen said. "Those guys are very talented, young, exciting. We all three feel we have the type of game that can spark a team. They can do a lot, add a lot to a game, bring a lot to the table. It'll be different," McCutchen added, breaking into a wry grin, "to be the older guy of the bunch." (Singer - mlb.com - 2/22/14)
In 2014, McCutchen was named to start for the N.L. in the All-Star Game.
LO AND TRINA
Lorenzo McCutchen and Petrina Swan were high-school teenagers when their son Andrew was born. Five years later, his parents made a choice that would change Andrew’s life forever. They were going to raise this child right, with all the work and all the love that would be required.
The date was Aug. 1, 1992. After time apart at separate colleges, Lo and Trina found themselves reunited in Fort Meade, Fla. That’s when they decided to get married.
Their story—and the rise of Andrew, the 2013 National League MVP—is chronicled in a September 2014 Sports Illustrated. The union of Lo and Trina is described as a life-changing moment for young Andrew.
“Trina decided that there was no one better to teach Andrew to be a man than his father,” Albert Chen writes in Sports Illustrated.
When Andrew was given the opportunity to compete at a higher level but lacked the financial resources to afford a travel baseball league, a coach named Jimmy Rutland offered to help.
“Lo and Trina saw Andrew’s love for the game, they saw this man willing to give them a hand, they remembered the pact they’d made,” Chen writes. “They decided, OK, let’s make this work.”
In the years that followed, Trina sold spaghetti dinners for $5.50 a pop to pay for Andrew’s baseball tournaments. The community came together to raise $5,000 to send Andrew to Puerto Rico to play ball.
His parents’ hard work rubbed off on Andrew, who “didn’t beg Lo and Trina for money; he began working odd jobs,” Chen writes. Andrew never asked his parents for anything that he knew they couldn't afford. When he wanted a pair of Air Jordans, he began working odd jobs. It took a few months but he made the $200.
One day he brought the cash to school, and when he went to his locker, the money was gone from his wallet.
"It was the angriest I've ever seen him, to this day," his friend Kenny Eldell related. "He knew who took it. He wanted to fight, but instead, he made a statement.
"'It's OK," he yelled out in the middle of the locker room, "because one day I'm going to have so much that $200 is going to seem like two cents. So take my money now, because one day you're not going to be able to touch any of it."
Lo and Trina’s decision to get married–after having Andrew–is not the norm today, even though marriage has been hailed as “the greatest weapon against child poverty.” (Albert Chen - Sports Illustrated - 9/08/2014)
If you spend enough time with McCutchen, his artistic side will come out. He sings, he beat-boxes, he plays the keyboard, he writes poetry, he draws.
In one of his favorite poems, "Step Up To The Plate," McCutchen describes a dream he once had, a dream that could've come true.
"I'm in my first game in the pros. It's on TV and I'm starting in center field," he says. "And of course it ended with a home run."
He turned a closet in his Lakeland, Florida home, into a makeshift recording studio, outfitted with a mike and a recorder.
In high school, Andrew carried around a notebook and sketched comic book character, professional athletes and sports logos. He still sketches in quiet moments away from the ballpark.
"When I'm drawing, I have to force myself to calm down," he says. "To get in that mental mode so I can draw something exactly how I want to draw it—it's important to tap into that mental mode every now and again. To concentrate, to lock in," McCutchen says.
Cutch is truly beloved in Pittsburgh, for his play, of course, but also for his community work.
In June 2014, his publicist received a text at 2:30 in the morning from Andrew asking if he could meet some kids at Niketown in Chicago, where the Pirates were playing. At the store, he greeted nine honors students from inner-city Chicago schools, gave them each a shopping bag and told them to fill it up with whatever they wanted.
Once, after working on a Habitat for Humanity project, McCutchen was told that the owner of the house had fallen behind in his mortgage payments because he was on disability leave from work. Cutch covered the payments, anonymously, until the man was able to get back to his job.
"It's not just that no one gets their hands dirty like Andrew," said Maggie Withrow, executive director of the Pittsburgh brand of Habitat for Humanity. "He also wants to know about the families; he wants t know how the program works. It's important to him that it wasn't a giveaway, that the families put in the work. He follows up because he cares."
Andrew is going to need a new hat. He arrived at McKechnie Field on March 26, 2015, sporting a newly shorn look after cutting off his trademark dreadlocks.
Standing in front of his locker, McCutchen placed his old Pirates cap atop his head and said it felt like "shaving out the inside of a watermelon and putting it on your head and putting a hat on top of it, and then taking that watermelon off."
McCutchen released a video on YouTube too, to unveil the news. "It was just time. I've had [dreadlocks] for such a long time now, and they were starting to get a bit long," McCutchen told reporters. "I made up my mind: After I get married and we get settled, it was something I was going to do. So I was looking forward to it."
Ten strands of his former dreadlocks will be auctioned on MLB.com. All the proceeds will benefit Pirates Charities.
"It is a bit strange, but hey, I guess there could be some value in it and doing it for a great cause," McCutchen said when asked about the thought of someone else owning his hair. "I'm happy they're doing it. It'll be great. It's going to be good. I can be like everybody else, like all the rest of the guys on the team, and get a new haircut every two weeks."
This time around, McCutchen told his barber to give him "whatever looks good, basically," and the barber proposed a "South of France"-style cut. "Well, it's a cool name," McCutchen said. "I guess I'll get that." (Berry - mlb.com - 3/26/15)
McCutchen recalls walks with his mom in the late 1990s. She, a one-time athlete, exercising to get back in shape after the birth of a daughter. He, already a young athlete of renown at 11. As Andrew remembers, "We'd walk. And sometimes jog."
One time, the jog accelerated into a run, and Petrina McCutchen flashed back to her volleyball and track days."She picked up the pace, and started really, really running," the Pirates star recalled. "And I was like trying to beat her. I either barely beat her, or she beat me—one or the other. But she definitely made me get going. So I'm thinking, 'OK, I see where I got my speed from.'"
Andrew got much more than just his legs from Petrina and dad Lorenzo McCutchen: his work ethic, commitment to set and pursue goals, faith.
And responsibility? One cannot minimize that life lesson from people who were in high school when they became parents but did not become husband and wife until their son was nearly six. Petrina and Lorenzo wedded to ensure Andrew grew up in a stable, loving home.
Andrew's baseball skills would have found daylight regardless, safe to say. But it did not hurt to have Petrina prepare and sell those $5.50 spaghetti dinners to fund his way to baseball tournaments, or for the Ft. Meade, Fla., community that embraced her to raise the $5,000 to send him to Puerto Rico for more high-profile exposure.
After a victory over the Padres, McCutchen made a pit stop at the foot of the left-field bleachers in Petco Park and handed his batting gloves to a pair of fans wearing Pirates colors. McCutchen said he noticed the family of four cheering on the Bucs and waving the team flag as Mark Melancon whiffed Derek Norris to end the 5-2 win. McCutchen didn't stop to chat. He quickly sprinted toward the infield for a brief celebration.
"Story behind it? Nah," McCutchen said. "It was some kids out there in old-school unis. I ran out there and gave them my batting gloves. I mean, way out here in San Diego to have some Pirates fans? It was pretty awesome."
Clint Hurdle said McCutchen has become a go-to leadership guy in the clubhouse, too. Accordingly, the two meet every week to 10 days to discuss the team and any particular issues McCutchen might like to verbalize.
"The majority of what we talk about is pretty classified," McCutchen said. "We have a good relationship. I just go in and we talk about whatever we need to talk about. He just tries to let me know that the door is always open. If I have anything on my mind, he wants me to be comfortable enough for me to go in there to tell him. And the same thing for him."
McCutchen is also a member of Hurdle's leadership council, consisting of players who meet on a weekly basis to air team issues. In his seventh season, Hurdle is also relying on McCutchen for his insight and expertise.
"He's definitely a go-to guy," Hurdle said. "When we meet I just ask him, 'What can I provide for you? How can I support you?' Or at times I'll say, 'Here's my read. What do you have?' He might have the same thing. He might have something different. I go to him for thoughts, for barometer readings, from time to time. Have chats about his vision of how we're doing, how he's doing. He's an integral part of everything we do." (Bloom - mlb.com - 5/31/15)
If you call the Polk County Sheriff's office today, chances are Petrina McCutchen, Andrew's mom, will still be the one on the other end. "She has always worked, and still does, supporting my sister and her endeavors," Andrew says. Loren, Andrew's only sibling, graduated in 2014 from Ft. Meade High School and is studying nursing at Florida A&M University.
She credits her big brother with setting a great example for her—but that is just yet another of Andrew's inheritances from his parents. Andrew and Petrina share a unique relationship, no question. Parenting experts clinically advise people to "be a parent, not a friend" to their children, but Andrew is blessed to truly have both. "My family is very young," Andrew said. "My parents are in their 40s. We we all just hang out and have a good time. It's always very relaxed, laid-back, laughing about whatever, joking around.
Now that my wife [Maria] is in the mix with the family, it makes it even that much more special. I made Pittsburgh my home, but I still have a place in Lakeland, right outside Ft. Meade, because my parents are still there, and I get back there whenever I can. "Sons typically are challenged to express their feelings for their moms. Not so much because of the proverbial "it's a man thing," but because it's almost a rhetorical question.
You can read the emotions on the sons' faces, however. Andrew's face is an open book when Petrina belts the national anthem prior to a Bucs game at PNC Park, which she has done a few times. "I'm proud of her, to see her on such a big stage being able to use the gift she's blessed with—her voice," Andrew said. "I've been hearing it all my life. She probably started singing to me when I was in her womb. "As a kid growing up, [your mom] is always proud of what you do, of what you've been able to become.
In those moments, the table is turned—I can be the person really excited for and proud of her. "Partisan praise? Not exactly: MLB.com recently chose the Top 10 anthem renditions of recent years and ranked Petrina McCutchen's version prior to the 2013 Wild Card Game as No. 2—three spots ahead of Mary J. Blige. Not bad. (T Singer - MLB.com - May 8, 2015)
July 14, 2015: With his solo home run, McCutchen joined an elite group of Pirates All-Stars. Leading off the bottom of the sixth against Rays righthander Chris Archer, McCutchen launched a first-pitch slider into the left-field seats at Great American Ball Park. It was the first All-Star Game home run for McCutchen, making his fifth trip to the Midsummer Classic. It also put McCutchen in good company with a few other Pittsburgh legends. The last four Pirates to homer in an All-Star Game were Dave Parker (1981), Roberto Clemente (1971), Willie Stargell (1965), and Ralph Kiner (1949-51). (A Berry - MLB.com Andrew was elected on Wednesday to the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame.
August 19, 2015: Another accolade to McCutchen's growing collection. The former National League MVP was elected to the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame.
Andrew clearly is one of the greatest in today's MLB. When compared to two historic Pittsburgh Pirates, he also is already one of the franchise's all-time greats. McCutchen played in his 1,000th career game in August 2015 -- and marked it in style with a two-run double that started the Bucs toward a 5-2 victory over the Marlins in Miami -- a nice round number that offers a convenient opportunity to compare.
And Cutch compares astonishingly with legendary Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and Barry Bonds, whose Cooperstown-standard career flowered in Pittsburgh. Benchmarks at the 1,000-game milepost:
• McCutchen has accumulated more total bases (1,864) than either Bonds (1,783) or Clemente (1,693).
• McCutchen's double was career No. 230, more than either Bonds (219) or Clemente (176).
One other key department in which McCutchen could lap his two iconic predecessors: team wins. Clemente's tenure peaked with 97 wins by the 1971 Bucs. Bonds' 1991 crew won 98 games. Cutch's 2015 Pirates also won 98.
McCutchen's accomplishments are not lost on Clint Hurdle, who has watched McCutchen turn into one of the game's best players over the last few years while helping Pittsburgh end its 20-year streak of losing seasons.
"He's the face of the franchise from the player pool," Hurdle said. "He's got national recognition now, which I think is a somewhat tangible sign and evidence that the player and organization are growing together. I think he was able to send clarity to our fan base that Pittsburgh was important, the organization was moving in the right direction. He wanted to be a part of it when he signed the [long-term] contract he signed a few years ago. When your best player is arguably one of your hardest-working players, it makes everyone's job on the periphery easier." (Singer - mlb.com - 8/25/15)
October 30, 2015: McCutchen's baseball career has been full of awards and accolades, but this honor he received resonated in a special way for him. McCutchen was named the winner of the 2015 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet before Game 3 of the World Series at Citi Field, an honor named after the iconic Pirates outfielder for his positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
"It means a lot. I feel like it means a bit more to me, just because of it being Roberto Clemente and him playing for the Pirates, wearing the same uniform," McCutchen said. "It just shows that I'm moving in the right direction as far as being able to do the things that I want to do off the baseball field. Just getting a prestigious award like this is very humbling."
McCutchen has been working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation since 2012, according to Dana Antkowiak, the marketing and communications manager for Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. During that time, he has visited 11 children with life-threatening medical conditions.
In Spring Training, McCutchen spent a whole day with Owen Taylor, a 7-year-old boy from Everett, Pa., who has a heart condition. In August at PNC Park, McCutchen hosted Cameron Pittman, a 12-year-old from Altoona, Pa., who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"He has this uncanny ability to very quickly put the child at ease. Very engaged in conversation, asks questions about their interests and their experiences. It's really remarkable," Antkowiak said. "In letters and notes we receive after the wish, these families are profoundly impacted by their experience with him. "The same can be said at the Children's Hospital, where Gessner and the entire staff were particularly pleased to see McCutchen win the Clemente Award.
McCutchen began visiting the hospital shortly after he was called up to the Majors. He and his wife, Maria, have remained a regular presence there, and Gessner said they are generous donors to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. "They are a wonderful team," Gessner said. "They do this because they care." (A Berry - MLB.com - November, 2015)
A simple exchange between Andrew and the McCreary family (four very loyal Pirates fans, arguably his most loyal West Coast fans), was caught on camera, swept through social media on a digital tidal wave and became one of those feel-good moments that fans from coast to coast couldn't seem to get enough of.
All because of a couple of batting gloves, a fist bump and one very emphatic "I love you man" exclamation by an overwhelmed 12-year-old. "It was the least I could do -- just show my appreciation," McCutchen said. "I didn't think much of it. It's awesome just to be able to interact with the fans."
The moment happened less than a minute after the Pirates secured a 5-2 win over the Padres on May 30, 2015 at Petco Park. Having noticed the McCreary foursome decked out in Pirates gear and waving their Jolly Roger flag, McCutchen raced back to the outfield wall and handed his batting gloves to the two kids who had been loudly cheering him throughout the game.
The cameras caught a joyous 12-year-old Christopher McCreary and his 8-year-old brother, Elijah, overcome with joy. Christopher pointed at McCutchen and yelled, "I love you man, I love you." And just like that, GIF-able history was born.
The exchange was shared thousands of times on a host of social media platforms. At the end of the season, McCutchen was honored for it by capturing the Esurance MLB Award for Best Player-Fan Interaction.
McCutchen, who won the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for community service in 2015, has long been known for regularly interacting with fans, especially kids. He also understands how meaningful a small gesture, something that requires minimal time and effort, can be for a young person. (Footer -MLB.com - 5/3/16)
June 26, 2016: McCutchen was ejected from a game for the first time in his career. After being called out on the strikes in the seventh inning, McCutchen threw his bat in frustration while arguing the call with home-plate umpire Chris Conroy. (Sarah K. Spencer - MLB.com)
December 2016: McCutchen committed to play for the USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
March 24, 2017: After winning the World Baseball Classic with Team USA, McCutchen reported to Pirates camp with a gold medal draped around his neck.
"It was a heck of a lot of fun, so much that I lost my voice," McCutchen added. "It was a great experience, for sure. "It's a sport that speaks one language. It was amazing to see the different cultures, play against the different cultures and teams. The atmosphere is great. The fans, they came, they were loud. It was a lot of fun. I do think it's something that is very useful and needed. 'm just happy to be a part of it, being my first one and being able to win one was pretty cool."
McCutchen said he enjoyed getting to watch Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer up close. And he enjoyed playing for manager Jim Leyland.
"You get your sense of team camaraderie a little bit, just because you're with those guys for a couple weeks as opposed to the All-Star Game when it's a few days," McCutchen said. "It was really cool to develop some relationships with some of those guys and pretty much form a team and bond in two weeks. That's what the game of baseball does."
It also provides moments they'll remember long after this spring. For McCutchen, that was Adam Jones' outstanding, homer-robbing catch at Petco Park against the Dominican Republic and Orioles teammate Manny Machado. McCutchen had a perfect view of the play from right field.
"That was the coolest thing I've ever seen in person, on the field," McCutchen said. "I didn't think he had a chance off the bat, then I saw him leap and I still didn't think he had a chance. The next thing I know, it's in his glove. That was awesome. It was cool to witness that." (A Berry - MLB.com - March 24, 2017
After every home run, Andrew steps on home plate and reaches up with his right hand to tip his cap. It's a tribute to his wife, but also to the man who broke baseball's color barrier. The gesture is specifically to acknowledge his wife, Maria, but McCutchen picked it up from Jackie Robinson -- the version of Robinson depicted in the movie "42," at least. McCutchen watched Robinson tip his cap toward his wife, Rachel, after homering in the film and decided he would do the same.
McCutchen rounded the bases and tipped his cap, as he always does on April 15, 2017. But for the first time, he did it while wearing Robinson's No. 42. McCutchen crushed a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning of the Pirates' 8-7 win over the Cubs on Jackie Robinson Day.
"It's something that means a lot and something I'm going to remember, definitely," McCutchen said. (Berry - mlb.com - 4/16/17)
Andrew lives a good life. He married his wife Maria in November 2014 after a romantic proposal on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show." The couple also recently announced they would be expecting a new addition to their family in December.
On Instagram he announced he and Maria would be welcoming a baby boy to the family at the end of the year, and according to MLB.com's Adam Berry he is ecstatic.
"We are proud to announce we are having a BOY! This has been the most exciting journey! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us. This was a day we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Baby boy, we cant wait to lay our eyes on you!"
"I'm excited," McCutchen said. "I've got someone to carry the [family] name. From here on out, if I have a [another] boy or a girl, I'm good."
Congratulations to the couple and we can't wait to meet the little guy. A mini-McCutchen is exactly what this world deserves. (Berry - mlb.com - 7/18/17)
June 13, 2005: Andrew signed with the Pirates organization for a bonus of $1.9 million after they drafted him in the first round, out of Fort Meade High School in Fort Meade, Florida. Rob Sidwell was the scout who signed him.
- March 5, 2012: Andrew and the Pirates agreed to a six-year, $51.5 million contract.