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Mudville: April 16, 2024 12:46 am PDT

Public Speaking & Prostitution, Ed Hearn

"Becoming a public speaker is like becoming a hooker”

Ed Hearn is full of sayings.

It’s just one of the elements of his personality that makes him such a decorated and respected public speaker.

His metaphors and analogies allow people to connect and are an effective way to make a point.

So, when you ask Hearn how he got started as a public speaker, he has a saying for that.

“Becoming a public speaker is like becoming a hooker,” Hearn told BallNine.

“First, you do it for a friend, then a friend of a friend then the friend of a friend of a friend says, ‘Hey how much do I have to pay you for you to do that for me?’”

Hearn joins BallNine for Part Two of a special Spitballin’ to discuss his incredible post-baseball life.

Hearn’s hooker reference is a fantastic analogy, but in both public speaking and prostitution, there has to be some substance too.

A speaker must have the ability to capture a room and a story to tell and Hearn has both in excess.

On Opening Day of 1987, Hearn was the Royals starting catcher in a lineup that featured George Brett, Bo Jackson, Willie Wilson and Frank White among others. He had been traded away from the Mets just ten days prior in a deal that brought the Mets David Cone.

Hearn went 2-for-3 in each of the first two games of the ’87 season, but was also battling pain in his throwing shoulder.

Just 12 days after Opening Day, Hearn found himself in the unenviable position of being behind home plate awaiting a throw with Dave Winfield bearing down on him.

Because this was decades before the Buster Posey Rule was put into effect, Winfield zeroed in on Hearn with ideas to plant him into the fourth row of Section 26 at Yankee Stadium.

Hearn is a big dude, standing at a solid 6’3” with the build you’d expect from a former star football player.

But Winfield is 6’6”, a star football player himself and had a full head of steam. In a violent collision at home, Winfield was safe, and Hearn was never the same.

Hearn had a torn rotator cuff and was out of the Majors for 17 months, before returning in September of 1988.

The next season, he hit well in the minors in 1989, but he didn’t return to the Majors and was out of professional baseball by the age of 29.

Then he was about to face the fight of his lifetime, a fight he still battles to this day.

Less than six months after playing his last game, Hearn was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening health conditions.

He has undergone three kidney transplants, 30 rounds of radiation, has had over 45 squamous cell carcinomas removed from his body, has been a long-time sufferer of sleep apnea and a host of other complications.

Dialysis, dozens of pills, monthly IV treatments and managing the mental hardships of his maladies have become the norm for Hearn.

When you talk to him though, you would never know any of that.

Hearn is about as positive and uplifting as you can imagine and it’s easy to see why he has the speaking reputation that he does.

Hearn has a story to tell and you don’t even have to solicit a hooker to hear them.

So, let’s go Spitballin’ with the inspirational Ed Hearn once again.

Thanks for joining us again, Mr. Hearn. Looking forward to diving into your public speaking career and the path you took to get where you are today. I guess we should start at the beginning and ask how you got into public speaking.

I always had a dream to be a pro ballplayer, what kid didn’t?

But you know, in that I wanted to be a good guy, someone that can make a difference. When we were kids my mom gave us required reading.

It was 15-20 minutes a night and she gave the subject area and we chose what we liked. It was books where the subject conveyed a really positive message and they were from people we looked up to because of the subject area.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes had magazines and my mom had a subscription, too.

I just read a lot of good stuff and with that idea of always wanting to be a ballplayer, it was always a big long-time dream I had; to be able to make a difference.

You know the Greek God, Janus?

The God of passages and doorways, gates and endings?

Well public speaking was probably the biggest Janus of my life.

It started when I was in the Penthouse after winning the ’86 World Series.

Then I’m traded away, injured my shoulder, get out of the game, started working at New York Life – then got sick and had a transplant and went through some things.

A friend of mine, David Lindstrom, used to play for the Chiefs and he was in charge of getting speakers for these groups and he asked me to tell my story.

He just said come on and tell your story, I didn’t really want to at first, but I gave in and did.

After it, the President of the group was there and gave me his card and said I oughta think about becoming a speaker.

I didn’t even tell David, I just took the card and thought about it. I ended up reaching more people speaking than I would have if I played 15 years in the Majors. I really believe that.

Did you just have a knack for public speaking? How did you hone your craft to become as accomplished as you are?

When I got started, I saw big name people who couldn’t speak a lick go out and get $30,000.

They can walk out there and just stand around and get paid.

That wasn’t gonna happen with a guy like me. Big name? I only got two letters in my name!

I went to the National Speakers Association where a lot of figures get together. For five days you learn all these different areas of being a professional speaker.

From presentation skills to how to run a business and everything in between. I worked at my craft, just like in baseball.

You’ve achieved national recognition for your speaking and as one, it may be difficult to nail it down, but what’s it like to be able to make a difference in people like that?

Let me put it to you this way, and I think about this often. Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but nobody can count the apples in just one seed.

You know, you work in athletics. You’re sitting in your office and you meet with players and coaches.

You’re planting seeds, or at least you have the opportunity to.

You can change the world, anyone can. You’ll never even know how many seeds you’re planting. Nobody does.

There used to be this great commercial where a young teenage kid is playing, and a train pulls up.

There was a young lady and they look over and catch each other’s eyes. They cut to the next scene and he’s being sworn in as President or something and the girl is there as his wife.

You just don’t know what can happen with one seed. You never know.

It may not do shit, but it may impact the world.

Think about that.

It’s wild to think about, but you’re right. Just the smallest incident can have a big influence over the future. It doesn’t take much. I wanted to ask you about a couple of your concepts and sayings to end it up. First, can you tell me about America, It’s the Bottom of the 9th?

That’s all about character building and man, do we need that today. I came up with that 20 years ago.

You know, today I was trying to get back to bed and I couldn’t sleep.

There’s a lot of stuff, but it’s really the stuff going on in the country. I’m thinking, “What can we actually do? How can we actually do something?”

It’s a battle and I wish like hell we’d get it straight.

I was raised to be humble and that’s what we need to get back to.

It’s that whole American world of baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. Good values and good character.

There’s a graphic that goes along with Bottom of the 9th.

To me, in this country we’re up at bat in the bottom of the ninth, which means what?

It means we’re losing, but the good guys have one more at bat.

I made lineups and on the “bad guys” team I have players like apathy, greed, contempt, doubt. Nine positions all filled out.

The good guys are at bat and they have gratitude, respect, integrity, compassion and others in their lineup.

Home plate is the Character of Faith, first base is Youth with Character, second base is Character to Conquer and third is Characters of the Great Outdoors.

Now, the coaches are really important here, they’re the key. The good guys are up at bat and Faith is the third base coach and Hope is coaching first.

Do you know who the head coach in all of this is holding it together?

L-O-V-E, love.

That’s some foresight to have done that over 20 years ago. It’s more relevant today than ever. Another of your sayings that made an impact on me was “Think Outside the Self.” Can you talk about that concept?

Oh man, that’s a key.

It’s a key that unlocks so many doors, every door really.

It’s the key to your marriage, the key to raising your kids, the key to success in business. It’s a key to just about everything.

Think outside the box? No, it’s think outside the self.

I don’t know if you can get everything you want in life by doing that, but you can get a hell of a lot just helping other people get what they want.

That’s coming from the speaker Zig Ziglar, the concept of getting what you want in life by helping others get what they want.

That’s thinking outside the self and that’s how you get through all of the ideas in America, it’s the Bottom of the 9th.

Think outside the self. What can I do for others? That’s the key.


April Fools' Day Story: View of Joe Burton as fictional character New York Mets Hayden Sidd Finch (21) speaking with Ed Hearn (49) during spring training photo shoot at Huggins-Stengel Field. St. Petersburg, FL 4/1/1985 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images)

It sounds simple when you put it that way. Put others first, treat others the way you want to be treated. Thanks for joining me for this, it’s been great to hear about your baseball career and also the great things you are doing while battling your own health problems. Do you have any message you’d like to leave the readers with?

We’re all given gifts in our lives and opportunities in different ways. It’s up to us to hone those gifts. We need to be doing what we’re supposed to be doing in life; being the kind of people we’re called to be.


Ed Hearn is the only professional athlete from the four major sports to receive the prestigious Certified Speaking Profession (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association. He is the author of Conquering Life’s Curves – Baseball, Battles & Beyond and can be reached through his SpeakerHub page here: https://speakerhub.com/speaker/ed-hearn 

Rocco is a baseball writer with too much time on his hands who lives in the dusty corners of Baseball Reference. He was one half of the battery for the 1986 Belleville Recreation Farm League Champion Indians. He likes early 20th century baseball nicknames, pullover polyester jerseys and Old Hoss Radbourn. He works as a College Athletics Director and his second book was released in April of 2021.

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