Life in Minor League Baseball can be tough. Long bus rides, roommates in two-star hotel rooms and plenty of fast food. But to former Gopher third-basemen, Jack Hannahan
, it's these experiences which build character and will prepare him for life in the Majors should that opportunity present itself.
Hannahan is a hometown hero of sorts. A St. Paul native and Cretin-Derham Hall alum, the third-baseman took his powerful bat and quick glove to Dinkytown where he eventually was named the 2001 Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the conference in hits (43), runs scored (31), home runs (9), total bases (82) and slugging percentage (.766) in League games only. Hannahan was also the catalyst for the Gophers 2001 Big Ten Tournament title run where he garnered Tournament MVP honors after going 6-for-12 at the plate, knocking in nine RBI and inducing six walks. In Minnesota's 15-11 win over Illinois, Hannahan had two home runs and seven RBI.
The former Gopher was rewarded for his 2001 season and was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the Amateur Draft. After quickly working his way through the Tiger's "œA" club in Oneonta, New York, Hannhan has continued to climb his way through the Tigers farm system. He recently spent time with the GopherHole while on the team bus. GH.com: Where has your post Gopher career taken you?Jack Hannahan:
Over the past three years I have been working my way through the Tigers Minor League system. Immediately after the Draft in 2001 I spent a few weeks with the Oneonta Tigers in upstate New York. I did pretty well there and was quickly moved to the Tigers' main "œA" team in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was a great experience as former Gopher Brent Gates
was the manager there and it was fun playing for him. From there I got moved up to the "œHigh A" club in Lakeland, Florida where I played one year and then got moved up to the Erie Seawolves where I am now. GH.com: How was it playing for Brent Gates?Hannahan:
It was a lot of fun being welcomed by open arms by a former Gopher. We obviously had an instant connection and he gave me a lot of advice from his playing days. The timing was perfect as he was only there for one year as well.GH.com: What is life in the Minors like?Hannahan:
It's a lot of fun. The bus rides get long as they average between 5-6 hours per trip and its actually about 15 hours to Portland, Maine which is our longest drive, but these experiences build character. Most of the guys in the Majors went through this same track and its fun knowing that it's a mutual price you pay. We're not spending nights in big hotels or eating at nice restaurants, but we really do bond with everyone on the road. It's a unique experience.GH.com: Is there a big difference in level of play as you progress through the Farm System?Hannahan:
Oh yea, definitely. Each level builds on each other and it gets tougher and tougher. The "œHigh A" level is like a great college all-star league and now that I am in "œAA" it is very intense. They tell us that at this level we are just a phone call away from the Big Leagues and we need to prepare each night as if it could our turn for that call. This spring I got to play with the big boys for a few Spring Training games and it was a lot of fun sitting in the dug out and playing with the Tigers. The big difference between the level I am at and they Big Leaguers is consistency. I can probably hang in the big leagues at the plate for a week or two at a time, but then I'd likely go in a bad slump. For me to make it to that level, I must become more consistent.GH.com: Thinking back to your days as a Gopher, what games stick out more than others?Hannahan:
I think the double-header sweep of Michigan in 2001 at home was very memorable. I had a walk-off homer in the first game to give us the win. The other games were the run to the Big Ten Tournament title at Ohio State. We overcame a lot that weekend to bring home the hardware. GH.com: How did you like playing for Coach John Anderson?Hannahan:
Coach Anderson is awesome. He doesn't get nearly enough respect and credit at The U as he deserves. He is everything a player could ask for. He's a father-figure, is always available to talk to both on and off the field and treats every play with the utmost respect. He was there for me in so many different facets as a student-athlete and I would not be the person or player I am today if it wasn't for his coaching and mentoring. I can say that about the entire coaching staff. I was very lucky to play for them.GH.com: Which players and coaches do you still keep in contact with? Hannhan:
Coach Anderson, Coach Fornasiere
and Coach Oakes
are guys I talk to quite often. These three have always been there for me and continue to be after I've left the program. I also keep in contact quite a bit with Luke Appert
, Jason Kennedy
, Scott Welch
, Nick McCauley
and Jon Becker
. We had a really close team and these guys are great friends of mine. GH.com: Have you sought the advice of any former Gophers who have made it in the Big Leagues?Hannahan:
Every time I run into Paul Molitor
I try to get as much information out of him as possible "“ everything from hitting tips to training to life experiences. He is a great role model and is always willing to share his knowledge with me. I really appreciate that.Talk about Jack Hannahan on our Other Gopher Sports message board.