Hannahan won't forget teammates' generosity
Players charter jet to get third baseman home for birth of son
CHICAGO -- Jack Hannahan cherishes the moments he is allowed to hold his son. When the time comes, little Johnny is lifted out of his incubator at Fairview Hospital and -- for an hour -- he can have skin-on-skin contact with his parents.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hannahan reached into his locker and retrieved his wallet. Then, the Indians third baseman smiled as only a proud father can as he pulled out his boy's hospital bracelet.
"He's a little miracle," Hannahan said.
That Hannahan's wife, Jenny, and Johnny are both doing well and improving each day is a blessing. The fact that Hannahan was able to be at his wife's side and to see his son enter this world was a gift provided by the third baseman's Indians teammates.
Hannahan knew fatherhood was approaching at a faster pace than most. Complications with Jenny's pregnancy had her on bed rest for more than a month before Johnny was born nearly three months premature. Hannahan spent every night he could in the Cleveland hospital, knowing the severity of the situation.
Hannahan's teammates knew how serious things were, too.
|"I'm not surprised at all, and I'm proud of them, too. Especially being a young team. You're talking about a team where a bunch of guys are making the league minimum or barely over that. For them to be so unselfish and do all that, that's what's going to make this special for years to come."|
|-- Manny Acta|
On Aug. 4, Hannahan manned third base at Fenway Park for the final three innings of the Tribe's 7-3 victory over the Red Sox. Following the game, the Indians' traveling secretary, Mike Seghi, relayed an urgent message from Hannahan's mother.
Jenny was going into labor.
"I said, 'I need to get home,'" Hannahan said.
It was approaching 11 p.m. ET in Boston and there were no more commercial flights that would get Hannahan to Cleveland that night. The best option was at 6 a.m. the following morning and Hannahan -- as much as he wanted to get home that evening -- told Seghi to get him on that plane.
"That's part of this job," Hannahan said. "Your wife goes into labor and you're on the road. You try to get back as soon as you can."
There was an alternative solution.
A private jet could be booked immediately, but the cost would set Hannahan back more than $35,000. The 31-year-old third baseman earns a salary of $500,000, but he is facing free agency in the offseason. The private jet was simply too expensive for him.
"We make good money, but still," Masterson said. "That's a chunk of change when you've got your first kid coming and you're unsure of your future even after this year and things like that."
While Hannahan pored over the options with Seghi, a group of players began to surround them by the computer in the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park. Masterson was there, along with Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Chad Durbin and Austin Kearns.
Hannahan's teammates all agreed that the third baseman needed to get to Cleveland as soon as possible. If Hannahan waited until the morning to board his plane, he surely would miss the birth of his first child.
Given the situation, Hannahan's teammates stepped up.
"When you're not sure your baby is going to come out alive," said Masterson, "that's something you can't be hearing on the phone. You've got to be there."
From each corner of the clubhouse, veterans and rookies alike pitched in money in order to cover the costs of a private jet. The players collected the necessary funds and -- despite Hannahan's reluctance to accept the generous gift -- they would not take no for an answer.
"He said no chance. He didn't want anything," Masterson said. "We convinced him. ... It wasn't one guy. Every single person threw in to help out. That's pretty impressive. Young and old, everyone threw in."
Indians manager Manny Acta smiled when asked about the players' generosity.
"I'm not surprised at all, and I'm proud of them, too," Acta said. "Especially being a young team. You're talking about a team where a bunch of guys are making the league minimum or barely over that. For them to be so unselfish and do all that, that's what's going to make this special for years to come."
Hannahan flew out of Boston that night and there was a towncar waiting for him when he landed in Cleveland. When the third baseman walked into Jenny's hospital room, she immediately lit up.
"I remember seeing the expression on my wife's face when I came in," Hannahan said.
Fifteen minutes later, at 3:11 a.m. ET, John Joseph Hannahan V was delivered via an emergency Caesarean section performed by Dr. Fadi S. Bashour. Little Johnny weighed only 2 pounds, 11 ounces when he was born on Aug. 5, which is also Jenny Hannahan's birthday.
Bashour just happened to decide to spend the night at the hospital that evening.
"He saved his life," Hannahan said. "He really did."
Jenny Hannahan is back home, but Johnny, whose original due date was Oct. 26, will remain in the hospital until around the middle of October. Hannahan said Johnny is eating well, gaining weight, breathing on his own and showing signs that he will develop into a healthy boy.
"The doctors said he acts like a real mature preemie," said Hannahan, who then laughed. "Whatever that means."
Johnny might be a bit small to follow in his father's footsteps as a third baseman, though.
"Second baseman," Hannahan said. "Maybe a center fielder. Fast."
Hannahan can smile and joke about things now that everything has turned out so well. He said he will love telling his son the story of his birth some day, and the third baseman will always remember how his teammates all chipped in to allow him to be there for that special moment.
"It's something I'll never forget," Hannahan said, "what these guys did for me and my family."