07 Apr Second Baseman Eager To Return
Photo Above: Miners second baseman Trey Hair relaxes with his dog, Oakley,
at a lake near his home in Firth, Nebraska, looking forward to returning to Sussex County in May.
Miners Second Baseman Eager to Return To Batter’s Box
When the Miners season opens at Skylands Stadium on May 27, they’ll be counting on an unusual source in the lineup for offense.
On most teams, the second baseman is relied upon for smooth fielding and very little else.
A second baseman who’s a threat every time he’s at the plate? A second baseman with some long-ball pop in his bat?
That’s a rare second baseman in any league.
But, that’s exactly Miners second baseman Trey Hair, who hit .324 in 94 games with the team in 2019.
“I enjoy the feeling of having people counting on me to get the hit,” he said by phone from his home in Nebraska.
“I’m very excited to get back to Sussex County. I want to get back in the batter’s box. I think about it all the time.”
At the moment, the 25-year-old is out on the baseball diamond every day as a part-time hitting coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Division I Mavericks were preparing for a weekend series at Wichita State when Hair took a few minutes to recall that 2019 season 1,200 miles away in Augusta.
“One thing I remember is when I first got there and I was still trying to prove myself and I hit a walk-off homerun early in the season,” he said. “I remember how great that felt.
“Throughout that whole season, I was able to string together some good at-bats to get some consistency and get some hits when the team needed them the most. That’s the important thing, to be able to get a hit when the team really needs you.
“That’s the guy I want to be.”
And, that’s how Miners manager Bobby Jones has begun to think about his second baseman every time he fills out the lineup card.
“Trey brings a lot of offense to that position,” Jones said. “You like his offense and you love his competitiveness. He’s never going to give away an at-bat. He fights you on every at-bat.”
A middle-infielder since his childhood days, Hair said Sussex County reminds him of his hometown of Firth, Nebraska, a village of 590 residents 25 miles south of Lincoln. It’s a 190-mile trip from Firth to the nearest big-league ballpark in Kansas City.
After high school, Hair headed for Missouri State University for a year, then transferred to the University of Evansville, playing two seasons there before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 34th round of the 2017 MLB draft.
Hitting lefty and throwing righty, he played for three Tampa farm teams over the next two years, then joined the Miners for the 2019 season that ended with the best record in the Can-Am League at 61-33.
Unfortunately, despite that first-place finish, the Miners went on to fall to the New Jersey Jackals in the league championship series, which ended with a wild 8-7 loss in the deciding game at Skylands on Sept. 14, 2019.
When the covid virus shut down most of the country in 2020, Hair drove himself to North Dakota to hook on with the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks, who play in the independent American Association.
Right now, while coaching the college players in Omaha, Hair also works out with the team, lifts weights and takes full rounds of batting practice every day to keep himself in playing shape.
“I’ll be ready to go when I get back to the Miners,” he said. “I enjoy being here at the university and being out on the field every day with the team, but there’s nothing like playing in a real game. I’m really looking forward to that.”
It’ll be a long drive – maybe 20 hours — straight ahead on Route 80 East for Hair to return to the Garden State.
He’ll be leaving behind his mom’s cooking and his longtime girlfriend’s companionship.
His parents came here for a visit in 2019 to see him play and to go to Times Square with him. His girlfriend will stay back home in Nebraska where she’s going to veterinary school.
Hair would like to get away from the ballpark a little more this season to check out places in Sussex County and to make it to New York again, maybe to Yankee Stadium where he saw one game in 2019.
Otherwise, he just can’t wait to get back in uniform. He’s eager to step up against Frontier League competition this year, and he’s hoping that full crowds will be allowed back for ballgames.
He’ll also be on the lookout this time around for the one thing that Nebraska might have over Jersey – his favorite food: a big, thick T-Bone steak.
By Carl Barbati. Former Sports Editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and Trentonian.