BRIDGEWATER – Since the end of last baseball season, Bridgewater College junior first baseman Andrew Hacker and his father David have had a bet about who could lose more weight.
After dropping more than 50 pounds compared to his son’s 25, technically, Dad won.
But Andrew Hacker isn’t complaining. Not after being named to d3baseball.com’s National Team of the Week on Wednesday after hitting .565 in six games, including five multi-hit performances.
The Mechanicsville native has led the Eagles (15-4 overall, 2-0 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference) to a No. 25 ranking in the latest Division III poll, including three wins over teams that were ranked at the time. After clobbering Baptist Bible (Pa.) 29-1 Wednesday, the Eagles have another shot at a ranked foe today in a road tilt against No. 20 Shenan doah, which BC beat 9-6 earlier in the season.
Hacker, who also is the reigning ODAC Player of the Week, gives much of the credit for his blazing start to his improved fitness – and to his father.
“He’s pretty much the inspiration behind [my weight loss],” the 215-pound Andrew Hacker said Wednesday after going 1-for-1 and getting plunked against Baptist Bible.
“It was kind of an ongoing, friendly competition,” said David Hacker, who has trimmed from 245 pounds to 195. “He was the one keeping track. We’d text our weight on Monday mornings. It was just a way to get a little bit of motivation.”
Andrew Hacker said his weight loss has done wonders for his hitting, and it shows in the numbers. After fading last year to a .272 average, Hacker is leading the team’s regulars with a .458 batting average, and, as of Tuesday, his .584 on-base percentage was best in the ODAC among players with at least 10 at-bats.
He’s also no longer dragging around the bases and is nimble enough that coach Curt Kendall is considering using him at third base.
“Since he’s gotten here, we’ve kind of encouraged him to get in the best shape possible, because we thought he’d get more out of his performance if he did,” Kendall said.
David Hacker, motivated by a career change, was the first in the family to start dropping weight. After spending years as a logistics manager at Home Depot, the 43-year-old is now in his second year at Virginia Commonwealth University’s graduate chemistry program, with plans to get his Ph.D.
“I decided before going back and putting more on myself as far as workload, I decided that I would get more physically fit,” said Hacker, who now regularly runs half-marathons and duathlons. “That was really the impetus behind it.”
Meanwhile, Hacker said he had been on his son to do the same since his prep days. After thriving as both a pitcher and an infielder at Lee Davis High School, Andrew Hacker struggled to get through the rigors of a college season as an underclassman at Bridgewater.
“When he was out of shape his first couple years, I think the day-to-day of playing every day – and if you’re not playing, practicing for three hours, or you’re up early lifting weights – I think that took his toll on him,” David Hacker said.
Now, Andrew Hacker is showing no signs of slowing down. He said being trimmer helps his hands get through the zone faster, and his coaches say he looks more balanced in the batter’s box. Close friend and teammate Christian Armstrong said he’s noticed that with quicker hands, Hacker is able to stay back longer on off-speed pitches before slapping them the other way.
“That’s his most success is right-center [field],” Armstrong said. “He just sits on the off-speed when he gets behind in the count and just goes with it. And his hands work well enough to be able to do it.”
Neither elder nor younger Hacker went on any of the quick-fix diets you see in advertisements. They say that they simply started eating less, staying away from fried food, but the biggest key was exercise. David Hacker started running 40 miles per week; Andrew hit the weights, replacing fat with muscle.
“I pretty much just followed in [my father’s] footsteps, just not eating as much,” Hacker said. “I’ve actually put on five or 10 more [pounds recently], so I’ve got to get back to it.”
After all, he doesn’t want to lose ground on his breakout season – or on the competition with his father.
“He’s always struggled with his weight and his fitness, and I’ve always been pushing for it,” David Hacker said. “So this time I put my money where my mouth is.