Before he hit two homers and made a spectacular defensive play, Mitch Haniger broke from his diligent pregame routine to hang out with kids from Seattle Children's hospital in an event he organized.
The hours before each baseball game are sacred to Mitch Haniger. They aren’t a time to be spent relaxing and checking his phone. They aren’t a time to have random conversations with teammates. They are a time for work.
Those hours are meant for preparation — pregame lifting and stretching, hitting in the cage, treatment on his body, studying that night’s pitcher via scouting report and video and anything else he can do to be ready when that first pitch is thrown.
It’s like this every day for the intensely serious Haniger.
“He’s a perfectionist,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s very routine-oriented. He’s got a process that he goes through every day. He doesn’t veer off from it.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- WSU coach Mike Leach tweets fake Barack Obama video, stirs up a Twitter storm
- Seahawks mailbag: What does the future hold for Kam Chancellor, George Fant and Malik McDowell
- Former Seahawk Michael Bennett reflective rather than bitter in return to Seattle on book tour
- Huskies get commitment from Idaho offensive lineman Gaard Memmelaar
- Storm's Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, Reign's Megan Rapinoe to appear in newest ESPN Magazine Body Issue
And yet, there is one thing that will make him break from that moderately obsessive routine for preparation — giving back to others.
Following a relatively unimpressive game on Monday night, Haniger had every reason to bury himself further into his pregame routine and preparation on Tuesday afternoon.
Instead, he broke from his regimented plan and took time to hang out with a group of kids from Seattle Children’s Hospital. Nine other teammates joined him for the event that he organized with his wife, Amanda.
“We did like a reverse signing,” he said. “Topps made them (baseball) cards of themselves. So they signed cards for us and Victus gave us some bats for them, so we signed bats for them. We took pictures and hung out with the kids.”
Haniger showed off the group photos from his phone. Players and children all gathered together — big grins on happy faces for everyone.
“It’s just fun to make someone smile,” he said. “In the offseason, I did stuff with this group called ‘More Than A Game.’ And it just makes you realize you can affect a lot of people. For me, the more people you can bring up with you as you’re having success, it just kind of shows who you are.”
Haniger’s initiative to do something like that impressed Servais.
“Great message that sends,” Servais said.
In typical Haniger fashion, he didn’t make a big deal about it to outsiders or his teammates.
“He kind of made an announcement the day before in our hitters meeting just trying to give guys a heads up,” Servais said. “There was no asking for guys to come. Here’s what I got set up. I’d appreciate if any guys came and make time.”
And his teammates happily made the time.
“We had like 10 guys in there,” he said. “It was great that they took the time.”
Servais is all for his players doing giving back to the city and the Mariners’ fanbase.
“It’s huge when you set those things up and you give back to the community,” he said. “And it’s also great he did it here at the ballpark. It makes a little easier to access guys. They can show up a little early and go over and give of your time to some kids that really appreciate it.”
And the little break from the daily grind had nothing but a positive effect on Haniger, who hit two homers later that night in the Mariners 6-3 win.
“It was a pretty good day,” he said of the event, and not the game. “That’s something I want to keep doing and try to affect as many people as I can. And bring others up too.”
Not only were we able to sign for them—but they signed custom-made @Topps cards for us.
— Mariners (@Mariners) June 12, 2018