Playing baseball was good for Hansel

EDWARDSVILLE – When Todd Hansel’s mother, Shirley Hansel, passed away aged 85 on November 6, it brought back a flood of memories.

Unsurprisingly, many of these memories involved baseball.

“She’s probably the only reason I had a baseball career,” said Hansel, 55, who was a Chicago Tribune All State third baseman as a senior at Edwardsville High School in 1984. . “When I was younger, I wanted to play football and she agreed to let me play in college if I wanted to go play baseball in high school.

“I had never played baseball in my life, so I thought I would be the first to get cut. Luckily it didn’t turn out that way and I ended up having a pretty good baseball career.

Where are they now?
Each Wednesday, the Edwardsville Intelligencer will publish a “Where are they now?” history of former student-athletes of Edwardsville or Metro-East Lutheran high school. If there is a former student-athlete you would like to know, please email Scott Marion at [email protected]

Watching their son play baseball has become a ritual for Shirley and her husband Don Hansel, who died aged 85 on August 24.

“They never missed a game until high school, and they came to most of my games for a few years of college prom at Lewis and Clark,” said Hansel, who is a probation officer for the County of. Madison. “When I think about it now, it means the world to me. It’s fun playing in front of someone who loves you, appreciates you, and also keeps your feet on the ground.

When he first started playing baseball at EHS, however, earning all-state honors was the farthest thing on his mind.

His goal was to try and keep pace with his teammates who had been playing the game for years.

“When I was in the freshman I was happy to be part of the team,” said Hansel. “I didn’t start on the freshman for about 10 games, then I got a shot and got a hit on my first stint at bat. I was in the starting lineup the next day and it just kept growing from there.

“It was funny because my coaches always told me that I was a good hitter, but that I was a better defenseman. When it was all said and done, I was probably a better hitter and not a great defenseman.

Hansel was called to college in the middle of his second season in 1982, when he helped lead the Tigers to an unlikely starting tournament spot.

The team was 4-19 at the time, but finished 23-24 and reached the semifinals in class AA.

“We had to win a game in the state to get to .500, but we started rolling at the end of the season,” said Hansel. “All of a sudden we started hitting, and hitting is contagious.

“We had good players, but we needed a good start, and I guess I ended up being one of the guys to help trigger that. Older players don’t want young people to come and show them off.

For Hansel, perhaps the most memorable moment of his high school career was the state quarterfinals in 1982, when EHS won 1-0 over Elk Grove Village.

Hansel led the lone run against Dave Otto, who went on to pitch for eight major league seasons for Oakland, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs.

“I came in the fifth inning and it was my third at bat, so I had the opportunity to see it a few times before,” said Hansel. “I knew he was throwing hard, but I was lucky when he fell behind me 3-0. Coach (Tom) Pile gave me the green light to swing.

“It wasn’t a frozen rope, but it found a hole. It was the only race and it was great. “

The Tigers’ run ended in the semifinals with a 12-2 loss in five semifinal innings to Hinsdale South.

The 1982 state tournament was the first of five state appearances for Pile, who won two championships in 18 seasons and retired after his second state title with a 40-0 team in 1998.

“I never played baseball before high school so I didn’t know what Edwardsville had done or the legacy Coach Pile was building there,” said Hansel. “There was a reason he was given the nickname ‘Moto’ because he was great at motivating you.

“He knew how to press each player’s buttons when he needed them, and he knew when to pat them on the back. He has always put us in a position to be successful.

EHS was 29-12 and won another regional title in Hansel’s junior season in 1983. The Tigers were 20-11 in their senior year in 1984, but did not come out of the league. region.

Hansel played left field in his second year and stayed there until the middle of his junior year, when he made the transition to third base.

At batting, Hansel proved his worth heading into his senior year, scoring 0.380 in sophomore and 0.344 in junior.

But he took his offense to another level as a senior in 1984, taking all-state honors with an average of .454.

Hansel thanks longtime Tigers pitching coach and Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Waldo for his improvement as a hitter.

“Coach Waldo spent a lot of time in the cage with me and helped me close the holes I had in my swing,” said Hansel. “He taught me to be a little more aggressive at home plate.

“He was very smart and he understood the game as well as anyone. When he starts sharing that information with you and you put it into play, it’s going to work.

After graduating from Edwardsville, Hansel played baseball for two seasons at Lewis and Clark Community College.

“I did a few tries with the Cardinals back when they were doing open invites, and it’s a really eye-opening experience to see how many good players are out there,” said Hansel. “I had a few leg injuries in college and knew it would be an uphill battle (to continue playing at a four-year-old school).”

After two years with Lewis and Clark, Hansel left school and took on various jobs. He eventually returned to school and obtained a community health degree from SIUE in 1994.

“I worked on a farm, I worked in construction and in heating and air conditioning,” said Hansel. “I ended up working at American Steel for a few years, and when I got laid off there and saw that there was no stability, that’s when I went to SIUE and graduated. “

After graduation, Hansel was hired at the Madison County Detention House in August 1995. He worked there for three years before becoming a probation officer.

Hansel worked for the Drug Court program for almost eight years. Prior to that he was a high risk probation officer and he also served as an adult probation officer.

“I work in a program that can help people change their lives,” said Hansel. “The program is structured to keep people busy and not think about their problems.

“We try to hold them accountable and if you can do it, often these people will go on their own and go back to where they were before their problems started.”

Cole Hansel, Todd’s son, also played baseball for Edwardsville and graduated in 2016. He spent two seasons at McHenry County College and two seasons at Chicago State University before ending his college career in 2021 at Culver. -Stockton College.

“He loved the division that I went through in the state of Chicago, but then the pandemic hit and the program was gone,” said Hansel. “He got the year (of eligibility) back, so he went to Culver-Stockton and got to play there.

“It was an honor and a privilege to see him. He was awesome.

Cole, who is 23, recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Culver-Stockton and eventually hopes to follow his father’s career path in law enforcement. He currently works in the building industry.

Hansel has another son, Trent, who graduated from Edwardsville in 2020 after playing golf for the Tigers.

Hansel’s wife, Kristen, is the daughter of former EHS Director George Halsey.

“He gave me my diploma when I graduated,” Hansel said.

Even with his two sons graduating from high school, Hansel tries to keep pace with EHS sports.

“I follow football in the fall, but I love to see what happens in the spring with baseball,” said Hansel. “(Current coach) Tim Funkhouser has done a great job and it’s fun to see Edwardsville still being a powerhouse.”

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