The Chicago Cubs paid the first half of Jacob Hannemann’s $1 million signing bonus, and the outfielder was perplexed. The check’s first number? Not a “5.” Not even a “4.”
Anyone familiar with tax withholdings would understand the concept, but not Hannemann. He asked his father, “Did you know about this?”
Howard Hannemann just laughed, knowing his parenting approach was working. The six children born to him and his wife, Mindy, never held formal, taxable jobs while growing up. Their main task was to train and develop skills that led to college football scholarships for four of the five boys – including Jacob, before he chose pro baseball.
Meet the Hannemanns
• The six children born to Mindy and Howard Hannemann are 10 years apart.
• The couple met in eighth grade in southern California. They reconnected eight years later and were married in Hawaii, where all five boys were born.
• In 1999, the family moved to Utah County, where daughter Shay was born and where Howard’s two brothers have raised 11 cousins.
• The five boys played varsity football for Lone Peak High School from 2008-16; Shay is a cheerleader for the Knights as a junior in 2017-18.
By this time next year, the Utah County family could have one son in the major leagues and two in NFL training camps. Jacob is playing in Triple-A in the Cubs’ system. The next-oldest brothers, Kyle (Southern Utah) and Micah (BYU), are entering their senior seasons as starting safeties with their own pro ambitions. “This season determines a lot of things for me personally, in my life,” Micah said.
The Hannemanns’ contribution to college football will resume in 2019, when Ammon joins BYU’s program as a returned missionary. But the ’18 season could be weird for a family that welcomed the five boys within eight years, followed by a girl. They were born into a family structure that naturally promoted competition, “always trying to push themselves and outdo the other,” their father said.
Asked if he ever reined in the level of aggressiveness, Howard Hannemann said, “Oh, no, man. I stirred the pot. … I grew up that way. It was always a competition, even with my mom.”
Genetics? Environment? How about both? “My mom has all the athletic genes in our family,” Micah said.
That shortchanges their father, a high school basketball and baseball player in Hawaii, but it’s true that Mindy was a varsity basketball player and track sprinter in southern California.
So here’s the book on each son who’s currently competing in sports:
“Everything has to be in complete order,” his father said. “He’s very organized; he likes things a certain way.”
That personality fits well into the everyday culture of baseball. After a mission to Arkansas, Jacob redshirted as a BYU football player in 2012, then batted .344 for the Cougar baseball team in the spring. The Cubs picked him in the third round and he has advanced in the organization, which especially values his defensive ability in center field.
Injured in spring training, he batted only .180 in 34 games for Double-A Tennessee, but still was promoted to Triple-A Iowa in May at age 26. He’s hitting .257 in 49 games with the I-Cubs, having slumped after a strong start.
As the second-oldest brother, Kyle seemingly is the most driven in living up to the family’s athletic standards. He was the one known as Jacob’s little brother, being a year behind him in school. Kyle describes that perception as “annoying … but I came to appreciate it.”
And that may account for his football demeanor. “More reckless,” his father said. “He couldn’t care less what happens to his body.”
His SUU success came after a parasite-related illness during his mission to Tahiti caused him to lose nearly 50 pounds. Former SUU coach Ed Lamb (now Micah’s position coach at BYU) kept Kyle’s scholarship available, but didn’t expect him to ever play. He joined the Thunderbirds more than a year later — explaining how his senior season’s coincides with Micah’s — and has thrived with seven career interceptions. Kyle made a game-high 12 tackles against BYU last November.
He’s the entrepreneur of the family. With high school friend Jacob Fotu, Micah launched a business that produces leggings for athletes and has a contract with a California high school. He writes ideas in a notebook that he won’t show anyone.
Micah and BYU teammate Talon Shumway were the top receivers for Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen, now a University of Utah star as a safety, in 2011 when the Knights won the Class 5A state championship.
Micah is so close to his brother that he considered turning down BYU’s offer and joining him at SUU – “which would have been crazy,” he said. “I’m glad I didn’t do that, but that’s how much I love Kyle.”
As for the other Hannemanns, three straight years of season-ending injuries in high school kept Seth from landing a football scholarship. He’s the best fire knife dancer, when the brothers perform in luaus to celebrate a sibling’s high school graduation in their Samoan heritage. Seth is following his father into the software industry, working in an internship for another company while enrolled at Utah Valley University.
Known as the brother who’s the most sensitive to other people, Ammon will play as a defensive back for BYU in 2019. A dancer and singer, the Hannemanns’ only daughter, Shay, will be a Lone Peak cheerleader as a junior. She has not pursued sports, but may try track and field in the spring.
The nine-year run of having one or more Hannemann brothers play for the Knights is over. That reduces their parents’ workload, although watching two sons play college football will require some planning. Unlike the season when Howard attended 34 of 41 games involving his sons, there’s less inventory now.
On a Friday night in October 2015, the parents caught parts of games in Ogden, Highland and Provo. In September 2016, their father watched Jacob play baseball in Tennessee on a Tuesday, then attended SUU at Utah State on Thursday, Lone Peak vs. West on Friday and BYU at Nebraska on Saturday, after driving through the night with a friend.
The BYU-SUU game last season was a nice convergence. Family members wore specially made red-and-blue shirts, representing both teams, and they could cheer strictly for the defenses.
The parents will go in different directions most Saturdays this year, trying to catch as much as possible of Kyle’s and Micah’s senior seasons. One day is vexing: Sept. 16, when BYU hosts Wisconsin at 1:30 p.m. in Provo and SUU plays Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. in Cedar City, 210 miles away. As Howard Hannemann said, “I wish I knew somebody that had a plane.”