Randall Hien, Jr On Baseball, Overcoming Adversity, And His Biggest Motivation In Life

In late July of 2018, I made my way up to Lincoln Little League’s Randy Hien Field for one of my Rhode Island baseball field visits. Admittedly, I was not familiar with the field’s namesake and like other fields I had not visited, was eager to learn more about the field and Randy Hien. As I was walking around the perimeter of the field, taking notes of the landscape and snapping photos of that wonderful baseball field, a man stopped me to inquire who I was. I handed him my card and told him about my passion for Rhode Island Baseball and extended my hand. He accepted my handshake (in front of his plaque affixed to the press box) saying, “Hi, I’m John Sharkey.”

John invited me up to the press box and we sat for about an hour talking about Lincoln Little League, baseball, kids, Rhode Island sports, and Randall “Randy” Hien. I couldn’t miss a second of John’s dialogue so I have no notes to show for the conversation, but remember it like it was yesterday. A police officer joined us to check on who was in the press box, and he would also trumpet the accomplishments of Randy, Lincoln Little League, and how amazing the field looked. It was an incredible Rhode Island Baseball Experience for me that I will never forget.

Fast forward to November, 2021. I spotted Randall Hien’s bio, which is listed in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, upon a recent search of Rhode Island baseball historical figures. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here is a link – Randall Hien, RI Heritage Hall of Fame. And (pretty cool coincidence I might add), his son, Randall Hien, Jr just started following me on my RI Baseball Experience Twitter page. I reached out to Randall Hien, Jr and asked him if I could interview him about his baseball journey. I was thrilled to receive a notice back that he was interested. We connected via phone yesterday, exchanged emails, and I am so excited to share his answers with you this morning. Here is Randall (I asked, he told me he goes by Randall) Hien, Jr on baseball, overcoming adversity, and the biggest motivation in his life:

RIBBE: Randall, good afternoon. Thanks again for agreeing to do this and continued success with your baseball journey at Siena and next summer. Tell me a little bit about your Rhode Island baseball roots – Little League? AAU? What was that experience like?

Randall: In terms of my Rhode Island baseball roots, I started from the very beginning here in Lincoln Little League. The first team that I was ever a part of was the Devil Rays in which my brother Charlie coached me. Lincoln Little League allowed me to develop a passion for the sport of baseball, playing with my friends all the way up until we were 12 competing in districts allowed us to create friendships and
relationships that we still have today. I was actually able to meet my best friend Josh when his dad drafted me when we were nine years old in AAA. We will forever be able to remember the memories that we created that year as we went on to win the AAA championship. In terms of AAU, I played for the Blackstone Valley Spinners until I got to the age of 11. My team consisted mostly of players that I played little league along with a few players from other parts of the state but most of the players on the team were a year and grade older than I was. In 2009, we won the 9u New England AAU Championship which was a really cool experience. I then went on to play for Upper Deck baseball for a team that was mostly a combination of Lincoln and Cumberland players. The team was largely made of the Cumberland Little League team that made it to the Little League World Series. We went on to win the
11u New England Super Division Championship. 

RIBBE: If you would like to, name some of your baseball and life mentors who helped you along the way.

Randall: Throughout my years playing sports, I have definitely had some phenomenal mentors both on and off the field that helped shape me into the person I am now. Although there are many more that I could mention, a few include my entire family. I was and still am so fortunate to have my mom, brothers, and sisters that have been more supportive of me throughout my entire journey than I ever could have asked for. Without them, I would not be anywhere near the person I am today. Throughout high school, my summer baseball coach Idris Liasu from L&M Baseball was one of the main reasons I was able to continue playing baseball at the next level. His dedication and commitment towards his players are second to none and his incredible knowledge of baseball helped me learn and develop as a player greatly. Another important mentor I had was my high school football coach, Sean Cavanaugh. Football really helped me learn more about myself than I could have imagined and Coach Cavanaugh allowed me to gain the confidence in myself that I needed to become a better athlete. Although I basically consider him family, the biggest non-family life
mentor for me has been Jim Jahnz. After losing my dad at a young age, Jim Jahnz was able to act as a father figure in my life. Along with many others, Jim Jahnz demonstrated and showed me the importance of caring for others and putting others before yourself, along with pushing me to be the best person I can be in every aspect of life.

RIBBE: Did you have a favorite ballpark to play in Rhode Island? Or on one of your travel team tournaments?

Randall: The most special ballpark to me in the state of Rhode Island is my father’s field. Moments like playing on that field for the first time and hitting a home run on that field are definitely something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

RIBBE: What was your primary position in youth baseball, high school?

Randall: I was always predominately a middle-infielder and pitcher throughout my baseball career. In little league and in AAU, I definitely learned to play outfield and I also caught a fairly decent amount which helped me learn new positions and become more versatile. In high school, I played all over the infield as well as pitching.

RIBBE: Were you a talented baseball player from the start or did your success come gradually throughout your youth playing days?

Randall: I was always a pretty talented player during my baseball career. Something that people always told me and something that I still hear today is that I am too short and not strong enough. My passion for the game of baseball has allowed me to ignore those types of comments and simply use them as motivation to continue to work harder and get better every day.

RIBBE: Did you plan multiple sports or just focus solely on baseball?

Randall: Growing up, I always liked to try new sports because I was passionate about sports in general. Baseball was my main sport but in high school, I was the quarterback of the football team and I also played basketball in which we were able to win the Division III State Championship my Senior year.

RIBBE: What advice would you give a youth baseball player about working towards being the best all around baseball player they can be?

Randall: My biggest piece of advice would be to have fun with the process. I have learned that every day is not guaranteed, being able to play the sport of baseball is an absolute blessing. Never take a moment for granted because it can be taken from you at any given moment. Another piece of advice that I think is extremely important is to respect the game. Whether you are at practice, hitting on your own, playing catch, or actually playing in a game, you are lucky for that opportunity and need to try to make the most out of every opportunity
that you have.

RIBBE: You are from Lincoln and now attend Siena College.  What was it about the Siena baseball program that interested you to play there?

Randall: My former summer baseball Coach, Idris Liasu, had coached at Siena College briefly when he was beginning his coaching career. He spoke very highly of the program and when I was in the process of finding the college that I wanted to attend, I felt that Siena College was a great fit. Coach Rossi is the longest-tenured coach in NCAA
history and when I came for my visit here at Siena, it felt like a place that I could grow as an athlete and as a person.

RIBBE: Where are we most likely to see you lining up defensively at Siena?

Randall: During the fall here at Siena, I played mostly second base, but I also practiced at shortstop, third, and a little bit in the outfield.

RIBBE: How about offensively?  Are you an on-base guy, power hitter, base stealing threat?

Randall: My entire life, I have never really been a power guy. I have always been really disciplined at the plate as I walk a lot. This past summer in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL), I finished
the summer batting .280 with a .478 OBP and finished second in the league in stolen bases with 30. Although I am not necessarily the fastest, stealing bases has always been something that I have been
passionate about. I take pride on getting the clock on pitchers throughout the game and being able to get good jumps when I get on base.

RIBBE: What was the 2021 NYCBL summer baseball league team? 

Randall: I played for the Mansfield Destroyers in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL).

RIBBE: Can you tell me a little bit about the process of how you were selected?

Randall: Three of my other teammates from Siena and I were placed in Mansfield, Pennsylvania for the summer. I am not sure about the exact process, but I believe the owner of the Mansfield Destroyers reached out to Coach Rossi looking for some players.

RIBBE: How were the games attended in terms of fans? And I’m sure there are MLB scouts floating around?

Randall: With issues regarding COVID-19 still lingering, there were not as many fans in attendance at the games this past summer. All of the games were live-streamed which was really nice because my family back home in Rhode Island was able to watch every pitch. There was a “Scout Day” that took place towards the end of the summer where there were definitely some MLB scouts in attendance.

RIBBE: What was your average game day/night like? What time did you arrive at the ballpark, especially if you are in the starting lineup? What does your routine look like to prepare for the first pitch?

Randall: This summer was a pretty crazy experience as there was roughly a month-long period where the town of Mansfield was experiencing serious flooding problems so we were forced to travel roughly 2-3 hours every morning for games. Depending on how far and how many games we were playing that day, we typically were on the bus by 10am as most of the games started around 3pm. Starting lineups were posted the night before games so when we were able to have home games, I would usually head to the batting cages around 1pm for a 4pm first
pitch, and take some light batting practice. Then, we would stretch and take team batting practice on the field at around 2pm. The opponent would take batting practice after us and we would usually head back to our room and eat something small. We would then come back to the field, play catch and do some sprints before getting ready
for first pitch.

RIBBE: Any plans set for Summer Baseball, 2022?

Randall: As of now, I will be playing with the Watertown Rapids in the Perfect Game League.

RIBBE: At your hometown Lincoln Little League, your father’s name sits atop the scoreboard commemorating Randy Hien Field.  What does that mean to you?

Randall: This truly means a lot to me, more than words can explain. My father meant a lot to this town and was very dedicated to Lincoln Little League. I thought it was an amazing idea to dedicate the field in his honor and being able to continue his legacy in the sport has been something that I have always strived for.

RIBBE: What would you like people to know about your father?

Randall: Although I do not have much memory of specific moments with my dad, friends of his and family have gone out of their way to make sure that I know how special of a person he really was. Way beyond just sports, he impacted the lives of so many people. My dad has always been my biggest motivation. My biggest goal in life is to make him proud and although that may seem a bit cliché, I constantly remind myself that playing baseball is what I was destined to do. I get emotional often when I talk about him but being able to say that he is my dad is something that I will always take pride in. Playing baseball has always been my way to connect with my dad and something that I
have always done throughout my baseball career, I write “RIP Dad” inside of my hat to remind myself that he is always there with me on the field. For someone that did not know my dad, the best quality about him was his selflessness and his ability to do everything he could to help the people around him.

RIBBE: Brag a little bit, what would you say was your best game? Could be a Little League game or High School game or something more recent. What made this game stand out in your mind?

Randall: One of my best games was probably during my sophomore year of high school when I pitched against La Salle Academy in the playoffs. Throughout that entire season, I was used as the team’s closer as I would typically pitch a max of two innings when I came in. I was primarily a second-basemen so I did not start any games throughout the season on the mound until I was asked to pitch in an elimination game against La Salle. I ended up throwing a complete game, three-hitter as we were able walk-off in the bottom of the seventh inning and advance to the Semi-finals of the Division I State Tournament. La Salle was a really good team, it down poured the entire game which made it even more of a special moment.

RIBBE: Where can fans find you and follow your baseball journey?

Randall: The best way to follow my baseball journey would probably be through Twitter (@randall_hien). I will typically retweet a tweet that I am mentioned in which can serve as a way to be updated with upcoming news.

Randall Hien, Jr is most definitely carving out his own impressive legacy in life and in baseball. Huge thanks to Randall for the incredible answers and the amazing photos. Randall, I will be following your baseball journey and I wish you the very best as you continue at Siena College and beyond!

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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