- Hinch graduated with a 4.0 grade average in high school where he was the starting quarterback and pitched some for the baseball team.
- Early in his pro career, A.J. spent a lot of his free time reading books, like "The Mental Game of Baseball," and "Men At Work."
- Hinch's father, Dennis, suddenly died of a heart attack on Feb. 8, 1993.
He turned down loads of money from the White Sox when they picked him #2 in June 1992. He went to Stanford University instead. And he passed up on the Twins when they picked him #3 in June 1995, turning down $225,000. He preferred being captain of the U.S. Olympic team.
In 1996, after graduating from Stanford, he signed with the A's, who had picked him in the third round. His bonus was $125,000.
- In 1997, A.J. was second in the California League in slugging (.583).
- During the offseason before 2000 spring training, Hinch worked with noted fitness guru Mark Verstegen in Phoenix. A.J. wanted to increase his athleticism and increase body control. Verstegen worked with Nomar Garciaparra when he was in the Red Sox minor league system and did wonders for him. Hinch said he was doing it to improve his entire career, not just the 2000 season. "I want to be the best that I can be," he said.
In 2002, A.J.'s wife, Erin, contributed to a cookbook the wives of Royals' players put together for charity.
- A.J. and Erin celebrated the birth of their first child, Haley Kristen, September 25, 2002.
A lot of baseball people see A.J. as a future high-level executive with a team. He is able to comprehend information very quickly. In November 2003, Alan Schwarz, senior writer for Baseball America wrote: "What he offers most is one heck of a head on his shoulders, one that soaks up information and experience and fits all the gears together into the whirring machine of his mind. He has the same crackling intelligence, charisma, and drive that another former journeyman, Billy Beane, had in 1990 when he gave up playing in his late 20s to join the Athletics front office. They even look and sound eerily similar."
Schwarz also mentioned how A.J. is "realistic rather than emotional. He can take different views of things." During the offseason, Hinch monitors the transaction wire after the season as keenly as the standings during it, to see how GMs are putting together their clubs, whether they allocate their budgets toward a No. 4 starter or an arbitration-eligible shortstop.
A.J. will certainly stay in the game after his playing career. A few teams already have Hinch in mind for front office positions, according to rumors.
The Astros hired a 40-year-old A.J. Hinch immediately following the end of the 2014 season as their next manager, giving him a team with a mix of veterans, a promising young core, and some impressive newcomers as they try to get back to contention.
Hinch, who has a psychology degree from Stanford and has done just about everything you can do in baseball, has spoken openly about being better prepared for the opportunity than he was when he managed the D-backs in 2009-2010. (McTaggart - mlb.com - 4/1/15)
A.J.'s mom, Becky, has been her son's biggest fan for over 40 years. That was true when he was a two-sport start in high school in Oklahoma and when he played in the Major Leagues for seven seasons, and it remained true when he was a baseball executive with the D-backs and Padres.
Now that Hinch has found success in his second act as a Major League manager with Houston, his mother remains as much of a positive influence on him as ever. Hinch said his mother keeps up with the games from her home in Midwest City, Okla.
"I get a text message from her after good games, and she continues to be one of the greatest Astros fans out there," he said.
"I didn't know how much my mother went through losing my dad until later in life when you have your own kids, own marriage," Hinch said of when his dad died suddenly died of a heart attack in 1993, his freshman season at Stanford. "My mom was married very young. She lost her husband at a very young age, and she's persevered to continue to be an influence for her grandkids and her kids. She's a very lovable woman, and she loves being around baseball. She's the biggest support system you could ask for."
When Hinch was growing up in Oklahoma, his mother made sure he was everywhere he needed to be when it came to sports. If that meant driving long distances for a tournament or a practice, she did it without hesitation.
She was there to pat Hinch on the back and make sure he was loved when things weren't going well, or to keep him in check when he was worrying more about baseball than he was science. As it turned out, he flourished in both the classroom and on the field. Hinch was a three-time All-American, and he earned a psychology degree from Stanford.
"There wasn't a tournament she wouldn't take us to, there wasn't a practice she wouldn't sign me up for," Hinch said. "That kind of love and support, she wanted me to be happy. She knew baseball was part of it. She moved to Stanford with me when I was in college after I lost my dad, and she has remained my biggest fan through baseball and through life. She's a great woman who's gone through a lot."
So when Hinch made his Major League debut as a player with the Oakland A's on April 1, 1998, going 0-for-3, mother and son shared perhaps the most important memory in a life filled with so many.
"I was a young player right out of college and had her in town to see her son," Hinch said. "We both missed my dad at that time. We both knew it was a lifelong goal for me and my family to be able to get to the Major Leagues, and to share that time with her brought tears to everyone's eyes because of all the work and all the things both of us went through to get to that point." (Brian McTaggart - MLB.com - 5/09/15)
In 2016, A.J. was named to the Pac-12 All-Century Baseball Team. The former Stanford catcher was one of three catchers named to the 30-man team by a 36-member panel. The team is made up of 20 position players and 10 pitchers, including former USC pitcher Randy Johnson.
One of the people Aaron Boone leaned on heavily when trying to become a big league manager, something he eventually did when the Yankees hired him the 2017 offseason, was Astros manager AJ Hinch.
AJ (Stanford) and Boone (USC) were on rival teams in college, and they were teammates on a Team USA junior squad. Boone's father, longtime big league catcher and manager Bob Boone, was instrumental in introducing catching to Hinch when he was a teenager. Bob Boone went to Stanford.
"Had I known he was going to be good at this job I probably would have sabotaged," Hinch joked. "I have a lot of respect for him. His demeanor is showing well in an incredibly intense environment, and obviously the players have responded to him and he's doing some pretty good things. I haven't actually seen him at work, but I've talked to him a few times, and we share a lot of similar stories. There's 30 of these jobs. He's got one of them; I've got one of them, so there will be a brotherhood always."
When Boone would come through Houston as an ESPN broadcaster, he'd always stop in Hinch's office and "chat like old friends," though Boone made it no secret he desired to be a manager. Boone said the conversations with Hinch are easy because of their similar backgrounds and ages.
"He's someone that I respect a lot," Boone said. "My getting into this for the first time, he's somebody that I leaned on, and we've spoken already during the season. We talk about things. He's somebody that's been a great sounding board for me, and we've developed a really good friendship." (McTaggart - mlb.com - 4/30/18)
- June 1996: He was drafted in the third round, out of Stanford, and signed by the A's.
- January 2001: The Royals sent OF Johnny Damon and INF Mark Ellis to the A's to acquire A.J., P Roberto Hernandez, and INF Angel Berroa.
- December 22, 2002: Hinch signed with the Indians.
- March 29, 2003: The Tigers sent a player to be named to the Indians, acquiring A.J.
- January 2004: Hinch signed with the Phillies' organization.