Hahn rooting on high school 'mate Harvey

Hahn rooting on high school 'mate Harvey

OAKLAND -- A's starter Jesse Hahn has no loyalties to the Mets or Royals, let alone the desire to watch a World Series between two clubs that aren't his own. But his kinship with New York ace Matt Harvey has him paying attention this year.

"I usually don't, just because I don't like watching it when we're not there or I'm not playing," Hahn said. "Just because of Matt, I've been tuned in, watching all the Mets games just to get a chance to see him pitch and even just to see him in the dugout and his reactions and how happy he is.

"And sometimes when they'll show video of the crowd, I'll see if I can find anyone from our hometown."

Hahn and Harvey were baseball and basketball teammates at Fitch High School in Groton, Conn., a town that sits about two hours northeast of Citi Field. Their baseball team, coached by Harvey's father, won the state title when they were sophomores and reached the semifinals the following two seasons.

Even then, Hahn said, Harvey had all the makings of a bona fide star.

"He was just driven," Hahn said. "There were times where I'd say people would think he was standoffish in high school just because of how motivated he was. He didn't really hang out with too many people or do the whole party life scene. He was just straight business and knew he wanted to get out of there to have the opportunity to play baseball.

"Everyone knew what he was going to do. It was pretty easy to see at an early age. He wants to be the best pitcher he can possibly be, and I think he works hard at that every single year. If he has a down year or something doesn't go his way, just like his Tommy John surgery for instance, he did everything he could to work back and be as good as he is now again."

Hahn and Harvey shared a high school friendship that became harder to maintain when they went their separate ways for college. Baseball continued to keep them together, though, albeit as opponents.

Hahn, who pitched at Virginia Tech, remembers suiting up against Harvey and the University of North Carolina as freshmen. Harvey got the best of Hahn, who noted with a laugh, "He had a little better team. They were top five in the country at the time, and we were the worst team in the ACC at the time, so I don't give him too much credit on that one."

Harvey ultimately went to the Mets in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, while Hahn joined the Rays in the sixth round that same year. He's since been traded twice, first to the Padres, then to the A's.

Meanwhile, Mets fandom has spilled into Groton.

"Ever since Matt's played for the Mets, he's turned a lot of Yankees fans and Red Sox fans into low-key Mets fans," Hahn said. "Even though they might still be Yankees and Red Sox fans, they have a heart for Mets players now just because of Matt.

"He's definitely the only one I'm rooting for in the World Series. It's just good for our hometown, our high school, and everyone back in Groton. I know everyone's going to be glued to the TV watching, and many people are going to try to go to the games for a chance to see him pitch, and I just think it's great for everybody."

Hahn included. Though thousands of miles away in Arizona, where he's spending his offseason, the A's pitcher can only imagine the downtown Groton scene on Mets game days. The local bars, he said, are packed, with several of them hanging up Harvey's jersey for the entirety of the postseason.

"We all expected him to be there one day, just like I hope they expect me to be there one day, and I'm not saying I'm jealous, but it definitely hurts me a little bit because I definitely want to be there with him or playing against him," he said. "I know that was his dream, and that's my dream, to play in the World Series. So, it kind of gives me motivation to keep going and reach that goal."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.