If there were a word to sum up Jack Hannahan's key ingredient in becoming a successful ballplayer, it would be simple. Confidence.
Hannahan is quick to admit that having the confidence in one's self is a key part in an athlete's development at any level.
"As an athlete, without it you're in trouble", says Hannahan "To be successful in any sport you need to have the confidence in your abilities. When you do, it's easier for everything else to just fall into place."
Things have certainly fallen into place for Hannhan thus far this season. Since opening day, the Toledo infielder has been on a tear at the plate and currently ranks second with the Hens in runs batted in and continues to hover close to the top of the team's batting race with a .284 average.
Getting off to a good start is a reputation that Hannhan has become accustomed to throughout his minor-pro career.
"I don't know what it is to tell you the truth," says Hannahan. "I think most hitters will tell you that in April and May, you do have a bit of an advantage over pitching, mainly because most pitchers are still trying to find their groove at that point."
Hannahan credits his productive start this season to a change in his approach to hitting and particularly a change to his swing on the suggestion of Mud Hens skipper Larry Parrish and hitting coach ‘Bull' Durham.
"They actually approached me at the end of last season about it" admits Hannahan. "The biggest difference is I'm turning my hips more into the swing than I was before and it seems to be giving me more power. I really worked hard in the off season on it to get prepared for this year and I think it's paying dividends so far."
Originally a 3rd round pick of the Detroit Tigers back in the 2001, Hannahan was considered by many to be the Tigers third baseman of the future.
Hannahan's pro career began immediately following a stellar Big Ten baseball career at the University of Minnesota where he was named Big Ten Player of the Year and made the First-Team All Big-Ten during his junior year, eventually leading the Big Ten Conference with 63 runs, 15 home runs and 63 RBI's through an impressive collegiate career.
The 6' 2" St. Paul, Minnesota native played his first season of pro ball with Oneonta in the New York-Penn League only to be promoted mid way through the season to low-A West Michigan, where he went on to hit an impressive .318 which was highlighted with a nine game hitting streak.
Hannahan began the 2002 season with high-A Lakeland and continued to hit well and display exceptional defensive skills at the ‘hot corner' earning him yet another mid-season promotion to Double-A Erie where he spent the next two seasons prior to coming to the Mud Hens to begin the 2005 season.
Despite a hamstring injury that sat him on the DL for all of July and parts of August, Hannahan spent the majority of last season in Toledo and played a big role in last year's 2005 Governor Cup Championship team highlighted in the final series with Indianapolis, not to mention setting a Toledo modern-era playoff record of four hits in one game.
Hannahan was again off to a decent start in 2005 prior to the setback due to the injury, including another nine game hitting streak, as well as belting three home runs in a single game against Columbus, the first player to ever accomplish the feat at Fifth Third Field. The injury only proved to be a rather personal frustrating ordeal for Hannahan, which included a return to Double-A Erie for a period of rehabilitation.
"It's obviously frustrating when an injury sets you back for that long" says Hannahan, "You're working hard to stay in the lineup everyday at this level and it's never easy to go backward in your career. But knowing I had to go back to Erie mainly because of rehab, made it a little easier to take I guess" says Hannahan.
Primarily a third baseman, Hannahan worked his way back to Toledo only to find his position filled, leaving him no choice but to play more of a utility role in the infield with the club that included stints at first and second base and a role that has now carried over into this season as well.
"At first it was disappointing. I've played third base all of my career," says Hannahan.
"There was a learning curve there, never playing either position before, but I was just glad to be back here in any capacity to be honest and now I really don't have a problem with it."
Well into the 2006 season, Hannahan is happy with his current stats and has one personal goal in mind to remain healthy throughout the entire season. Well established with his defensive skills, he hopes to better his stats at the plate and work to become the complete package offensively and defensively for the Mud Hens.
For Hannahan, he would like nothing more than to see the Mud Hens repeat as Governor Cup Champions and is quick to explain that the Mud Hens possess the one key factor found in any successful team.
"This team has an incredible chemistry about it which is vitally important if you're going to be successful. Probably one of the best I‘ve ever seen in my career so far. We all have a common goal here and that's to win."