Paul H. Hutchins Jr., a retired Baltimore Sun photographer who caught a leaping Brooks Robinson celebrating the Orioles' 1966 World Series sweep, died of heart failure Sunday at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 91 and lived in the Loch Raven Reservoir area north of Towson.
“The photograph still gives people goose bumps,” said a 2012 Sun story. “There's Dave McNally, Baltimore's ‘other’ No. 19, the triumphant pitcher whose grin is as wide as his native Montana. And Andy Etchebarren, the catcher who's poised to embrace him, mask still on and mitt in hand.
“And there, on the left, is a jubilant Brooks Robinson, or at least a chunk of him: the Orioles' third baseman is airborne and looks as if he parachuted into Memorial Stadium. Why? The Birds had just swept the 1966 World Series in four straight games,” the story said.
Mr. Hutchins’ celebrated photo was named Sports Action Shot of 1966 by the Baltimore Press Photographers Association, which also made Hutchins its Photographer of the Year. He was named press photographer of the year on three other occasions.
It quickly defined itself as the photographic record of the event. “On Oct. 11 — two days after the Orioles defeated the favored Los Angeles Dodgers — Hutzler's department stores cranked out commemorative $3 mugs and ashtrays emblazoned with the front-page photo and accompanying newspaper headline, which read, "Would You Believe It? Four Straight!" the 2012 story said.
Mr. Hutchins later recalled that after he had handed the picture to the news desk, he was walking with a friend in downtown Baltimore. The city was jubilant — drivers were pounding on their horns. He saw a newspaper box with early editions of The Sun. “His photo was splashed across the front page, above the fold, over six columns,” the story said. "That was pretty rare," Mr. Hutchins said. "Like something they save for the Hindenburg disaster."
Mr. Hutchins, in his four decades at The Sun, also photographed Dr. Martin Luther King standing in a Cadillac as it passes along Gay Street during a trip to Baltimore in October 1964. He covered numerous Baltimore Colts games and produced photo essays for the paper’s Sunday magazine.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Paul H. Hutchins Sr., an Alcoa Aluminum clerk, and his wife, Barbara Martha Anderson. He attended Patterson Park High School.
As a young man he played softball and pitched for the Continental Can and Bethlehem Steel teams. He was paid $25 for a win and $15 for a loss. He told his family he used the money to buy an engagement ring for his future wife, Dorothy Caroline Beck.
After working at the American Can Co., he joined The Sun’s classified advertising department. In 1961 Sun photo director Robert Kniesche made him a news photographer. He remained at the paper until he retired in 1994.
Family members said Mr. Hutchins became interested in photography after his mother won a camera as a prize in a bingo game. He used library books to study his craft.
“He was self-trained as a photographer,” said his son, Glenn Christopher Hutchins of Lewis Center, Ohio. “He cut his teeth doing portraits and weddings.”
But it was his photo of the 1966 World Series that colleagues associated with his career. A two-page version of the photo, which Mr. Hutchins named “Jump for Joy” appeared in the 2001 book, “A Century in The Sun,” an album of the paper’s photography from 1901 to 2000.
Mr. Hutchins later described the photo as "the most important one I took in 42 years at the paper.”
"Brooks made the picture, " he said, recalling that he captured the image with a large-format, 2¼-inch Praktisix camera, using a 600 mm lens. "When the last ball was hit to the outfield, I thought, 'This is gonna be a big deal.' So I watched the pitcher [McNally] and, as he came off the mound, I snapped his grin."
“I remember looking at McNally in the viewfinder, and seeing something coming from the left,” he said. “I didn't know it was Brooks, in midair, until I got back to The Sun and developed it."
"The Orioles asked me to make a large print for each of the players," he said. "Years later, I was sent on assignment to photograph McNally at his home in Billings, Mont. The '66 picture hung overtop his fireplace."
Players cherish the picture. Etchebarren, 75, has the photo hanging in his house in Nokomis, Fla. He also keeps it as his screen saver.
"Every time I turn on my computer, that [image] is what I see," he said in 2012. "I don't believe in living in the past — I've given my World Series rings to my daughters — but that is one neat picture. Once [outfielder] Paul Blair caught the last out, I started running to the mound to hug McNally, but there came Brooksie, flying through the air.”
The picture is mounted in Boog Powell's trophy room, alongside his 1970 American League Most Valuable Player award, in his home in Key West, Fla. Though Powell, the slugging first baseman, wasn't part of the photo, the reactions of those pictured speak for the team, he said.
"To have a smile that wide, and to jump in the air like that, exemplified how we all felt — total elation," said Powell, 77. "It was a long time coming, 12 years since the Orioles' inception [in 1954]. What a great day for the city of Baltimore. It was like Mardi Gras."
Mr. Robinson recalled that he reacted quickly in the final seconds of that game.
"When I saw the ball go to center field, that's when I started my 'run' into the air," he said. "For Blair, catching that ball was a cup of tea."
Mr. Blair watched the jubilation from the outfield as he made the final out.
"I couldn't wait for that [fly] to fall into my glove," said Blair, who died in 2013. "I squeezed it harder than any ball I ever caught. If I dropped it, I knew I'd have to leave Baltimore."
"God bless the photographer, that was a hell of a picture,” Mr. Blair said in the 2012 story.
Mr. Hutchins also worked for The Sunday Sun Magazine. His most well-regarded pictures include a 1978 photo spread of the Baltimore Fire Department Engine Company No. 6 at Gay and Forrest streets. At a news conference in 1986, he captured Mayor William Donald Schaefer covering his eyes and holding back tears as word was released of the Pride of Baltimore’s sinking.
Mr. Hutchins collected a series of classic cars he stored in his garage at his home near the Loch Raven watershed. His 1963 Cadillac convertible was used in the filming of Barry Levinson’s 1987 film, “Tin Men.”
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A fellow Sun photographer, Lloyd Fox, recalled that as Mr. Hutchins was retiring, he began to clean out his personal effects at the paper. It was 28 years after the World Series clincher and Mr. Hutchins had retained the negatives of the game at the paper’s photo department.
“He allowed me to make a print from the negative myself. It was an honor,” Mr. Fox said. “Then he signed a copy for me.”
Mr. Fox recalled the three images contained on the film roll.
“They didn’t have motors on our cameras in 1966. Paul took each shot with a press of his finger,” Mr. Fox said. “The picture he took before was of a person’s head — no good. The one after was nothing, too. But the one in the middle was a beautiful frame.”
A funeral Mass will be held at 9 a.m. Friday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 69 years, Dorothy Caroline Beck, a retired McCormick & Co. tea room hostess; two other sons, Paul Gerard Hutchins of Glen Arm and Richard Charles Hutchins of Churchville; a daughter, Marian Louise Kispert of Towson; and three grandchildren.