Always the big kid, WVU’s Grant Hussey now closing in on a big record

MORGANTOWN — Grant Hussey will go about his business today as usual even though he is just two mighty home run swings away from history.

“That’s how he always handles himself,” WVU head baseball coach Randy Mazey said. “He’s quiet and humble. He comes to the ballpark like he’s coming to work.

“If he was never asked about the record, you’d never hear him talk about it.”

The record is WVU’s all-time career home run mark, which is set at 35 by both Jedd Gyorko and Tim McCabe.

Hussey, a junior from Parkersburg, stands at 33, as the No. 22 Mountaineers (23-13, 11-4 Big 12) enter one of the more hitter-friendly Big 12 stadiums found at Texas Tech to begin a three-game series at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

WVU STATS

The Red Raiders (26-13, 9-9) are second in the Big 12 in home runs hit and third in home runs allowed, so yeah, balls can go flying out of Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park pretty quickly.

Not that any of that will be on Hussey’s mind.

“Honestly, I’m trying not to think about it much,” he said. “It’s cool, obviously, but I’ve tried to not pay too much attention to it.”

Always a big hitter

Gyorko, a former WVU standout who spent eight years in the major leagues, still remembers the first time he saw Hussey.

That came in the summer of 2021, when Hussey had just graduated high school from Parkersburg South and Gyorko’s professional career had just ended and he took over as manager of the West Virginia Black Bears.

“Grant was this big, tall kid, and he really had a good swing,” Gyorko said. “You could tell right away he had a lot of potential.

“I really liked him. He was a fellow West Virginia kid and he was going to WVU. I thought he showed a lot of promise.”

It’s the type of power-hitting potential, Hussey said, he’s always been able to show.

“The thing about me is I’ve always been the big kid,” he said. “When I was younger, I was still the big kid in class. Hitting for power really just came kind of natural to me.”

It showed in that summer with the Black Bears.

“I believe he was one of the top home run guys in the Draft League,” Gyorko said. “You have to remember he was just coming out of high school and going up against college guys.

“He was seeing a different level of pitching and he was using a wood bat, but he was still hitting for power. That was pretty impressive.”

Fast forward a few months when Hussey began his college career.

Playing on the campus of Coastal Carolina, his first collegiate hit was a grand slam against Central Michigan.

“That one was probably my favorite one so far,” Hussey said. “I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better way to get your first hit in college.”

Digging the long ball

There are literally thousands upon thousands of records throughout sports, but why do home run records seem to capture our attention more than others?

“I think it’s that way, because there is no better play in sports than a home run,” Gyorko said. “The feeling that a home run adds to a game makes it the best play. The distance that comes with it and the history, I think, is why we love home runs more than any other play.”

There may be something to the distance part.

The average home run in the major leagues travels 400 feet.

Tom Brady threw a record 649 touchdown passes in the NFL and Stephen Curry holds the NBA record with 3,747 3-pointers and counting.

None of those passes or long shots covered 400 feet.

“You go to a football game, you’re going to see some touchdowns. You go to a basketball game, you’re going to see a lot of 3-pointers,” Gyorko said. “You go to a baseball game, you may only see one or two home runs.

“It’s a lot harder to hit a home run than any other play in sports.”

Mazey is on board with that theory, which was a big reason why he recruited Hussey in the first place.

“The home run is my favorite play,” Mazey said. “Once we saw the type of power Grant had in high school, yeah, we went after him pretty hard, just because his ability to hit home runs could make a major impact.”

A run at history

According to Hussey’s home run history, if he’s going to break the school record, it will likely come on the road.

Of his 33 career home runs, he’s hit 24 of them away from Kendrick Family Ballpark.

“It’s really hard to hit home runs here,” Hussey said about his home stadium. “Unless you get the wind blowing out to left, but that’s not always the case.

“This field generally plays like a big field. We call it a graveyard, because most fly balls are going to be outs.”

He needs two big swings to tie Gyorko and McCabe, three to sit on top by himself.

“I’ll be rooting for him,” Gyorko said. “Records are made to be broken, and it wouldn’t bother me at all to see him break that one. To be honest, I’m not even sure what records I still hold at the school.”

To that thought, if Hussey is able to set the record, he would celebrate the next young power hitter to come along and make a run at it.

“I would hope someone comes along and breaks it,” he said. “If I can get up there, I wouldn’t want to be up there for long.

“I would like to see WVU keep recruiting good players and to see the program keep getting better, which means they’ll keep getting guys hitting for power.”

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