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Like father, like son: Tech's Hannahs learned from major league dad

Younger Hannahs keeps mind on basketball, school

Posted: February 17, 2014 - 11:19pm  |  Updated: February 18, 2014 - 1:11am
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Texas Tech's Dusty Hannahs learned about success from his father Gerry Hannahs, who spent four season in the Major Leagues. (Stephen Spillman)
Texas Tech's Dusty Hannahs learned about success from his father Gerry Hannahs, who spent four season in the Major Leagues. (Stephen Spillman)
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Since his youth, Dusty Hannahs has grown up hearing his father tell him to keep his mind on his money and his money on his mind.

“It’s true in everything I do,” Dusty said. “Just keep my mind on basketball and school because that’s what’s going to get to the money in that case. Just keeping your mind on it at all times.”

Gerry Hannahs, Dusty’s father, knows what he’s talking about; he was a major league pitcher for four seasons – 1976-77 for the Montreal Expos and 1978-79 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His first game was in September of 1976.

“We played the Cardinals, which was one of my favorite teams growing up because the Little Rock base followed the Cardinals from that radio base,” Gerry said. “I won the game. It was a bad game. It was an ugly win, but a win’s a win. It was, again, a life long dream.”

As if growing up with a professional baseball player wasn’t enough, Dusty also had motivation from his name.

“Well, when I got sent up to the big leagues in Montreal, I went to a, at that time, a discotheque,” Gerry said. “I sat down and was just relaxing and I saw a guy that I played against, Dusty Baker. He just came over. He had been playing ball in the majors since he was 18. He said, ‘You pitched a good game, blah blah blah.’

“We started talking and then when I went out to LA, I saw him when I got traded to the Dodgers. We’ve been friends ever since, life long friends. He’s just such a leader and was just a great human being and got so close to him. I just loved the nickname. I always told him that if I had a boy I was going to name him after him.”

Baker served as a perfect role model for Dusty, playing 19 years in the major leagues before becoming one of the most successful managers in baseball.

“We both have been busy people, but now I think at this point in my life and post-college, I’ll definitely get to become much closer with him,” Dusty said. “I’ve been able to go up to Cubs games and stay at his place with him, you know, ride in cars with him. “It’s really unique getting to have you named after someone that successful who’s going to be a Hall of Famer in the sport of baseball. That’s not the most important thing to me. He’s also a really good guy. That’s what I really like to know about my namesake is that he’s really a 100 percent great guy.”

Dusty played a little baseball himself, from the fifth grade to his sophomore year of high school, mainly in center field but also some shortstop and pitcher.

“I was a stud when I was in sixth grade,” Dusty said, “and it went downhill from there.”

That’s when basketball took over.

At first, all he knew was to get in the gym and shoot.

He even had a key to the gym.

“Coach (Kevin) Kelley, he’s the football coach and now the athletic director at the high school (Pulaski Academy),” Dusty said. “I just asked him one day if I could get a key because my dad gave me the idea. We’d been going up there all the time and sometimes would get locked in or locked out. I just got a key and ran with it ever since then.”

As a shooter, Dusty learned to have a short term memory, forgetting about a missed shot and focusing on the next one, another lesson from his father.

“I walked so many batters I just got used to it,” Gerry said. “You just stay focused and learn your craft and do your best every time you go out there.”

Over the years, Dusty learned that there is more to basketball than just putting up shots, so he got in the gym and worked even harder.

“Baseball is mainly, as a pitcher, is just running, running, running and you can only throw so much,” Gerry said. “I never had the work ethic that Dusty has or I might have had a better career.”

The hard work paid off for Dusty, who was rated as a two-star recruit by ESPN.com and rivals.com, that led to looks from colleges.

“I just fell in love with Tech,” Dusty said. “I was pretty under-recruited, I would say, and Tech was my first big offer. I wanted to stay loyal to Coach Gillespie who offered me here and gave me the opportunity that other coaches wouldn’t give me. I think about it every day. It kind of drives me that other coaches wouldn’t give me that chance. That’s why I love Texas Tech and can’t wait to thrive here.”

Last season, Dusty emerged as a starter for the Red Raiders and finished his freshman season averaging 8.4 points and shooting 36.9 percent from behind the arc.

“I think he’s done a great job and he’s loyal to the program,” Gerry said. “It was just a great experience for him his freshman year getting to play. Now, he’s getting to play for a Hall of Fame coach like Tubby is just another feather in Dusty’s cap being able to learn from one of the masters of the collegiate game.”

Dusty said Smith has taught him too much to name.

“You see coaches growing up that are just really worried about other things but he just preaches the fundamentals,” Dusty said. “It makes you such a better team when you practice passing, you practice free throws. I mean, last year we were one of the worst free throw shooting teams. This year we’re the best in the Big 12. That just speaks to how he teaches the game and what he believes in.”

Currently, Dusty has the highest free throw percentage in program history at 91.2, a 10.6 percentage increase from his performance at the line (80.6).

He has also become Texas Tech’s sixth man and is averaging 10.6 points in conference play.

“Dusty has improved in a lot of areas,” Smith said. “I think he’s a guy who’s very competitive. He’s learning how to handle the ball better and put the ball on the floor and take people off the dribble. He’s more well-rounded and not just a shooter.”

From junior high, his work ethic hasn’t changed.

“He’s always in the gym working on his shot,” Robert Turner said. “That’s what he does.”

However, now Dusty has to balance time in the gym with time in the books.

He has twice been named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

“It’s very difficult,” he said. “When you’re done with practice for the day, you don’t really want to go home and study or go to tutor. You’re pretty tired. It’s just stuff you’ve got to do and make sure you’re on track with school because that’s what’s going to get you to keep playing on the court.”

With two years left at Texas Tech, Dusty’s future is in his own hands.

While his dream is to play professional basketball, his major is in supply chain management in business.

Living his whole life looking up to a man whose dreams of playing professional baseball came true, don’t count Dusty out.

 

krista.pirtle@lubbockonline.com

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