Clemente Award nominee Hearn proud to be local role model

September 21st, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Growing up in Royse City, Texas, knew how important it was for him to see Black athletes, who he could more directly relate to, playing for local teams and doing work throughout the DFW community.

He didn’t expect to be one of those players eventually.

Hearn hasn’t been in the big leagues long, but during his time with the Rangers, he’s made a tremendous impact on the community, focusing on helping and providing support for young athletes from underprivileged backgrounds.

On Sept. 8, MLB announced that Hearn was named the Rangers’ 2022 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award is given to a player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

For Hearn, it’s a little bit more special considering the work he gets to do in his hometown.

“I've always wanted kids from DFW to be able to have a person like me that's from the DFW area playing for the Rangers,” Hearn said. “I want them to know that just because you make it doesn't mean you just have to chill. Like you have to be able to help people and give back.

“That's something I've always liked doing even through the Minor Leagues and to this point in the big leagues too. I’ve always liked helping people, always wanting to make sure that I'm using the platform that God gave me to be able to help people out. I know for a fact I wouldn't be in this situation were it not for Him. So I definitely want to help people.”

Hearn joked that while being a nominee was an honor, he didn’t even vote for himself, instead choosing to vote for former Rangers Jose Trevino (Yankees’ nominee) and Kyle Gibson (Phillies’ nominee). Trevino was the Rangers’ nominee in 2021.

Despite his determination to not vote for himself, Hearn has done everything to earn the nomination. He’s done a number of charitable events since turning pro in 2015, when he was drafted by the Nationals, but those efforts have only grown since he returned home to the Metroplex after a ‘18 trade with the Pirates.

It started small, with simple things like sponsoring kids on his trainer Omar Washington’s travel ball team to get them equipment and uniforms.

In three seasons with the Rangers’ big league club, he’s spread his impact throughout the DFW area.

This June, he hosted a free ProCamp at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy for over 100 youth athletes in a partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Hearn has been an active participant in Youth Academy events and charity drives during his time with the organization.

Hearn also sponsored a youth baseball team in Tema, Ghana, promoting the sport of baseball in Africa by sending equipment, T-shirts and monetary sponsorship.

Other initiatives include his work with the Alzheimer’s Association to honor his grandmother, who passed away from the disease, and his 2021 “Week of Giving” during the holiday season, in which he donated gift cards to students at Kennedy-Curry Middle School in Dallas and provided dinner for residents of Arlington Life Shelter.

Interim manager Tony Beasley praised Hearn’s efforts in the community, especially for a guy who’s had a rough journey on the field this season. The lefty opened the year in the Rangers’ starting rotation, but was demoted to Triple-A before finding his way back as part of Texas’ bullpen.

Hearn has now posted a 2.52 ERA in 15 relief appearances, compared to 6.25 in 13 starts.

“He's had success this year,” Beasley said. “That's put him in a position to be nominated for what I consider the most prestigious award in the game. And I'm really proud of him. You want all the kids to do well. But when you see them face some adversity and bounce back from it, it speaks to who they are as individuals. The fact that he didn't just throw in the towel and is fighting to be successful, I'm proud of him.”

Hearn said that having this off-the-field aspect of his life acknowledged feels just as good as any on-field accomplishment.

“I think it just reminds me about the impact that I’m making, and how a lot of kids have looked up to me,” Hearn said. “Just being able to help kids out, because I've always wanted kids to be able to see that a kid from the DFW made it to the big leagues and how they can make it too. I think that's why I've always been a person who's always willing to listen and give them any advice that they need.”