“Life is short, not if you measure it by how one lives and what he does.”
Shaun Hansen can’t remember where he first saw the quote a couple of years ago, but he liked it. He wrote it down in his notebook, on his cleats, and in February he had the words tattooed in script on his left arm.
“I just love it because it motivates me,” he said while taking a break from a workout in Greenport High School’s weight room on Monday. “To make life what it is, you have to work for it.”
Hansen has directed that quote toward baseball, the sport he is consumed by.
“Everything in my life is applied toward baseball now,” the Greenport High School senior said, agreeing to the suggestion that school, sleeping, eating and baseball pretty much fill his daily life. “That describes it.” He hastened to add: “I love it. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Nor would the Greenport Porters, who had to be overjoyed at the news this past January that Hansen had transferred from Southold High School to Greenport and would be playing for the Porters’ first varsity team of its own in at least 22 years. (Greenport had been consolidated with Southold from 1990 to 2009.)
Greenport Coach Mike Reed remembers his reaction when he received a phone call from the Greenport athletic director, Todd Gulluscio, notifying him that Hansen was coming. A smile creased Reed’s face. “My wife said, ‘Why are you smiling?’ ” Reed recalled. “I said, ‘I just won the lottery.’ ”
The Porters were big winners in Hansen’s move to Greenport after playing his first three varsity seasons with the Southold/Greenport Clippers and then last year with the Southold First Settlers. Last season was Hansen’s best yet. He finished with a .450 batting average, five home runs, 30 runs batted in and 20 walks, and was named an all-county player.
The 6-foot-2 1/2, 205-pound Hansen is a starting pitcher who will play first base when he is not pitching or playing an occasional third base. Although he hasn’t made a college choice yet, he is an undoubted talent whose presence in Greenport has drawn the attention of opposing coaches.
“I’ll put Shaun against anybody,” Reed said. “He’s the real deal.”
Reed told the story of how Hansen, using a wooden bat and hitting into the wind, crushed a ball during a practice last week. The coach interrupted practice to grab a tape measure and determine the distance of the shot. “Four hundred and fifteen feet down left field,” he said.
To some, Hansen is best known as a sharp-eyed hitter of the rarest sort who can swing for both power and average. He is selective at the plate, rarely swings at bad pitches and can hit for power to any field.
“He knows the strike zone,” said Reed, who plans to bat Hansen third in the order. “I’ve never seen him get fooled by a pitch.”
Years and years of playing for travel teams, school teams, attending camps and refining his swing with the aid of his father (Brian Hansen, Greenport’s assistant coach), his older brother (Matt Hansen, a former college player who is Greenport’s junior varsity coach) and making use of the family’s batting cage in the backyard have brought positive results.
“It’s the most practical thing we ever bought,” Shaun Hansen said of the well-used batting cage, which has strings tying up holes in it. “We get tons of use out of that.”
As a pitcher, Shaun Hansen has good movement on his pitches, which include two-seam and four-seam fastballs, curveballs, and a nasty circle changeup. “The ball explodes through the zone,” Reed said. “He can just flat out bring it.”
But what is perhaps the most overlooked part of Shaun Hansen’s game is his glove.
“What a lot of people overlook is his fielding at first base is phenomenal,” Reed said. “The biggest surprise to people is his defense.”
And yet, for all of this, what impresses Reed most of all about Shaun Hansen doesn’t have anything to do with how he hits, catches or throws. Although Shaun Hansen can put up big numbers, he doesn’t have a big head.
“He’s one of the most humble kids, really,” the coach said. “He doesn’t care about his stats. He cares about his team and his team winning. You know, that’s refreshing.”
Shaun Hansen said that after his first few days in Greenport he acclimated himself. He seems comfortable with his new surroundings and new teammates.
“I’m definitely ready to go,” he said. “I just feel like more on top of everything, like I just perfected all the little problems I had in the off-season. I got a lot stronger, a lot faster. Hopefully it will pay off.”