Well, seeing as there is no ND defense to review this week, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of (part of) one of the stories that is going to be in the second volume of “Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became.” Today I’m going to give you a tad bit of Terry Hanratty’s story. Hope you enjoy it!
Where Are They Now? Terry Hanratty
Terry Hanratty grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania; a steel mill community where the boys were raised big and strong and all of the top colleges were headed there to recruit the next crop of football superstars. As a four sport athlete at Butler Senior High School (Hanratty played football, basketball, baseball and track), Hanratty was a hard worker and was not afraid to face any challenge placed in front of him. Following his athletic career at Butler Senior High School, Hanratty went on to attend the University of Notre Dame where he was a three-year starter and twice an All-American, as well as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Hanratty and wide receiver Jim Seymour formed a dynamic passing/receiving duo which lead Notre Dame to the national title in 1966. In his career at Notre Dame, Hanratty completed 304 of 550 passes for 4,152 yards and 27 touchdowns, and carried the ball 181 times for 586 yards and 16 touchdowns. He then went on to play football in the NFL with fellow Notre Dame teammate, half back Rocky Bleier, in Pittsburgh with the Steelers. But that is only part of the story! Take a walk with me and hear the whole story: Where are they now? Terry Hanratty.
Q: Growing up in (Butler, PA) Western Pennsylvania, what made you interested in attending the University of Notre Dame?
A: “I grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania, 25 miles north of Pittsburgh, and back in the 1960’s recruiting in Western Pennsylvania was equivalent to recruiting in Florida, Texas and California today. If you wanted quality football players, Western Pennsylvania was where you went. The whole area was producing talent left and right. My high school football coach produced 62 Division I football players in 20 years of coaching high school football. Western Pennsylvania was filled with lots of ethnic groups … Polish, Irish, German, Italian; we worked in the steel mills and were raised to be big, tough kids. I was fortunate in that I had a lot of college offers, but my high school coach was really good at guiding me and helping me make a smart, educated decision. He told me that I wasn’t going to go to USC because it was simply too far away. At that point in my life I hadn’t even been on a plane yet. My first plane trip was to Michigan State University for my official visit. He told me, pick a few schools that you really want to go to, make your visits and be honest with all of these people. Don’t take a visit to Miami just to get a free trip to Florida if you’re not serious about going to Miami. When I sat down and went over all of my options, it came down to Michigan State and Notre Dame, and once I met Ara (Coach Parseghian), my decision was made.”
“Ara came to Pittsburgh to meet me and we met at a hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. I remember looking at the menu and a steak sandwich was $3.50. In my mind I was thinking, ‘If I get a steak sandwich (we didn’t have real steaks at my house) instead of a club sandwich (which was $1.75), will he be thinking that I’m gouging him?’ One club sandwich and a few hours later, I drove home and told my mother that I was going to the University of Notre Dame.”
“Ara was one amazing coach. Normally with most head coaches, you’ll find some second or third team guys who will bad mouth the coach for something he did wrong or someone he mistreated, but not Ara. Everybody loved him, from the starters all the way to the guys riding the bench. He had such a dynamic personality, everyone wanted to be around him.”
Q: What made Ara Parseghian such a great coach?
A: “Ara’s ability to have us 100% prepared for anything we could possibly face on Saturday was what made him such a talented head football coach. Back when I played at Notre Dame in the mid 1960’s, you couldn’t play your freshman year, so I was a starter for the next three years. I was never once surprised by anything I faced during a game. We won a lot of games but we lost a couple as well. Our losses were usually a result of a bad performance. The losses, however, were never from being unprepared or from not knowing what Ara expected of you. He had you completely ready with a phenomenally constructed game plan, and you felt 100% comfortable going into every game. You were extremely prepared for anything that was headed your way.”
Q: What is your favorite Notre Dame football memory?
A: “Winning the national championship in 1966 has got to be up there. What Ara did, coming in to Notre Dame and completely turning the team around, it was a remarkable thing to watch. They probably should have won it in 1964 (the year John Huarte won the Heisman Trophy). In 1965 they were very good but they just didn’t quite have the right quarterback to lead them to a championship. In 1966 we pretty much had the same guys from the year before, but Ara was finally able to get us over the hurdle and win the national title. It was really neat.”
“Jim (Seymour) and I probably knew each other better than anybody else on that team. We worked out together all winter long. We used to go into the field house and work on our moves. It was just an automatic feel I had for Jim. I knew exactly when he was going to turn and he knew that when he turned around the ball would be there. It was a great chemistry that we had.”
Q: What was the NFL like?
A: “It was nice to be able to essentially go‘back home,’ being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. To this day (I’m 67 years old), the two best decisions I’ve ever made were, one, going to Notre Dame, a decision made by me; and two, going to play for the Steelers, a decision made by the Rooney family. You could not ask for two better places to ‘work’. I was drafted by the Steelers in 1969 and then Terry Bradshaw was drafted the next year. It wasn’t the best of working conditions, having two young quarterbacks on the same team, but we worked very well together. We won two Super Bowls during the time I was with the Steelers and it was a great experience. The guys I played with at the Steelers, we still keep in touch and get together for reunion golf outings. It was a tremendous experience, it really was.”
Q: Where did life take you after Notre Dame?
A: “I majored in economics at Notre Dame and always enjoyed finance and how the financial markets worked. While I was still playing for the Steelers I began dabbling in the stock market, so transitioning into a profession as a stock trader on Wall Street was a natural fit for me. I worked for a few firms before I found the right fit and then found my place at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York City where I worked as an institutional trader for about 24 years. My time playing football for Notre Dame and the Pittsburgh Steelers prepared me well for my career in finance. I was used to making quick decisions on the field, because let’s face it, if you take too long to make a decision as a quarterback the next thing you know you’re flat on your back. This quick decision-making skill was very useful as a stock trader when your goal is to get the best price on a stock when it becomes available. You have to be confident in your decision-making skills to succeed on Wall Street. For the past seven years I have been working out of my home in Connecticut putting together hedge funds for top-tier investors with Cross Shore Capital Management LLC.”
I hope you enjoyed Terry Hanratty’s story! There is more, I promise, but you’ll have to wait for the book to read the rest of it! The book should be out around August of 2016. Don’t have a copy of the first volume of “Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became“? Shoot me an email and you can get a signed, personalized one!
Cheers & GO IRISH!