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Kickin' Back with Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan

Catcher Ryan Hanigan, entering his first season with the Rays, says that both his parents — an FBI agent and an educator — loved to read and to talk about things going on in the world.
Catcher Ryan Hanigan, entering his first season with the Rays, says that both his parents — an FBI agent and an educator — loved to read and to talk about things going on in the world.
Published Mar. 28, 2014

New Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan is a deep thinker with a wide array of interests, from showing dogs to breeding horses to studying Nietzsche. The Times' Joe Smith sat down with Hanigan to discuss his passions, and family connections to The Departed.

Congrats on your Australian shepherd, Vivian, getting Best of Breed at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. What got you into show dogs?

I've always had a bunch of Aussies, and I just talked to a breeder who had some really nice ones. Vivian was really solid, put her out there in the show circuit for the year and she killed it. It was awesome.

You own horses, too, right?

I breed horses. I live in Lexington, been doing that for a while. That's a business for me, that's a lot different than the dogs. The dogs are just a hobby.

Any winners so far?

I raised one horse, she won one race at Tampa Bay Downs, her name is Zara. She took one down, it was pretty fun. For the most part, a lot of the foals that I've sold from the last couple years are just now training to be on the track, so in the next couple years we'll see how it goes.

You were a philosophy major (at Rollins College). What drew you to Nietzsche?

Well I've pretty much read everything he's written. There's a lot of that you can relate to day-to-day life. It's kind of timeless.

Any favorite sayings?

One of my favorites, he said something like, "The person with the most perspectives is the most knowledgeable." You're a baseball player, you meet all kinds of people from different backgrounds. You don't want to be judgmental, you want to try to step in their shoes for a minute and see where they come from.

With your father (Mike) an FBI agent, how did it shape you?

He's a very smart guy. He went to law school, was an FBI agent with a lot of big cases in Boston, dealt with Whitey Bulger, almost had to testify in that trial.

Is your mom (Helen) a teacher?

She worked at (Merrimack) College, was a teacher, she worked in the library for a lot of years. My parents had a very, very educational background. They were just readers, very open with ideas in terms of always wanting to talk about … what was going on in the world.

If you weren't playing baseball, what job would you have?

I don't know. I thought about law school for a while, but I think that's a little bit too rigid for me. I'm not that structured. I'm more impulsive.

Favorite TV shows?

I like that new show on TV called Vikings, about the history of the Vikings and their pillaging. That's pretty cool. I like Justified, and the show Hannibal is pretty cool. True Detective was pretty good. I like more of the thriller/dramas more than the comedies.

Favorite movie?

I always liked The Departed, because it's Jack Nicholson, Leo (diCaprio), it's based in my hometown, it's based on the Winter Hill gang, the criminals my dad worked against. All the scenes, all the places they are in the movie, I've been.

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What music do you listen to?

I always go with Pearl Jam radio on Sirius. I like a lot of the alt-rock bands of the '90s and early 2000s but also listen to a lot of hip-hop when I'm working out. So I'm pretty diverse with my music. I'll listen to country, techno, whatever I'm feeling.

If you could have dinner with three people, who would it be?

Muhammad Ali in his heyday would be pretty cool. Listening to his overwhelming confidence would be pretty awesome (and might) rub off a little bit. I think I'd probably have to say Jesus, just 'cause God. And maybe Nietzsche. That'd be a little contrast, wouldn't it?

Three possessions you can't live without?

My wireless Sony headphones are my new favorite thing. My mobile device, I think everyone has to have. Are dogs possessions? I guess not. I'm not very materialistic, so probably some underwear, just to get through the day.

Best meal you can make?

I usually just go with a nice filet, can cook it up different ways. Filet and fries with a salad is pretty standard in the Hanigan world.

Guilty pleasure at the mall.


How do you want to be remembered?

That I left it on the field and I helped other guys get better. And hopefully with a ring on my finger for sure.