Jan. 14, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - For the better part of two decades Drew Hankin was never more at home than he was at Dick Howser Stadium, smack in the center of Section B as the Zookeeper of the Animals, Florida State's nationally-recognized baseball fans. It's only fitting that Hankin, 38, who passed away of natural causes Wednesday, will be remembered in a memorial service for friends and relatives there, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Beyond being a passionate fan of the Seminoles, Hankin was very much an ambassador for the program that captured his imagination from the time he attended his first game in 1986, often working behind the scenes to assist in any way possible.
"On top of being a true Seminole, Drew was a great American, because he never asked for anything in return," said Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin. "He supported Florida State baseball to the mountaintop."
Word of his passing quickly traveled from coast to coast, with condolences coming into the baseball office from former Seminoles like Buster Posey and others who had crossed paths with him.
"On behalf of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the Seminole baseball family for the loss of Drew Hankin," wrote Mike Gustafson, executive director of the College Baseball Foundation. "What a wonderful ambassador he has been for Seminole baseball. Our thoughts are with you."
Gustafson further added that people like Hankin, "are a big part of the fabric of college baseball."
Hankin never met a stranger, especially around the ballpark. He often entertained out-of-town fans and media members, offering up some of the hospitality that has helped make Florida State baseball and trips to Dick Howser Stadium at Mike Martin Field one of the top venues in the college game.
"I remember my first trip to Tallahassee," wrote SEbaseball.com publisher Mark Etheredge, in a story that appeared through his Twitter account. "I looked Drew up and he was my tour guide. He couldn't take 10 steps without someone speaking to him. It took forever to travel from the press box down to Animals' lair above first base. ... One measure of a man is the mark he made on others. Drew touched a lot of lives and for that, he will always have a place in college baseball history."
When he wasn't cheering, Hankin was often penning a weekly column and keeping tabs on Seminoles past and present as the website developer and administrator for SectionB.com.
"He made Seminole baseball worldwide," said Chip Baker, Florida State's director of baseball operations. "The impact he made - it's incredible. We're all in a state of shock right now."
A 1990 graduate of Tallahassee Godby High School and a former member of FSU's Marching Chiefs, Hankin is survived by his mother Michele Hankin, his sister Wendy Bredall, his brothers Jeff Pilger and Richard Hankin, and his grandparents Lucille and Sam Hankin, as well as a host of nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to icdrc.org. As a tribute to Hankin, those attending Sunday's memorial service are asked to wear garnet and gold, and bring something to share at an Animal tailgate afterward.
"Drew Hankin will always be remembered by Seminole baseball," Martin added. "The clock is ticking for the 2011 season to begin. It's because of you, Drew, and I will miss you deeply."