Patience and hard work paid off for Hunter Hearn, the former Crosby Cougar baseball standout this summer as he signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the Sam Houston State University BearKats. Playing baseball at a D1 program was something on his bucket list but seemed to be something he would have to take a different route to achieve if at all and then the phone rang. One phone call that changed everything in an instant.
It had been over a year since, SHSU head coach Matt Deggs had last spoken to him but there was his number on the caller ID. Cutting grass at the Crosby Park baseball fields, a hot and sweaty Hunter Hearn cut the engine and excitedly answered the phone. On the other end was Sam Houston State University baseball coach Matt Deggs with an offer, the Crosby graduate could not refuse; “come play D1 baseball for us.”
Having lost his catcher Collin Yelich to the 2015 MLB draft, Deggs was in a bit of a bind but at the same time knew just where to turn. The BearKats had their eye on the Crosby catcher last summer but had no opening for him on the roster.
“We liked him last summer but just didn’t have a spot,” Deggs shared with me this past Sunday afternoon. “When one opened, we were thrilled to see he was available and interested.”
Hearn is the prototypical player that BearKats second year coach likes to recruit. Steeped in baseball tradition under Mark Johnson and David Pierce, the former hitting coach for University of Louisiana-Lafayette continues the path of recruiting players that are talented, hard-working and team oriented.
“He is a program type kid, and what I mean by that is he will do whatever it takes and play wherever he has to, to help the team succeed,” said Crosby head coach Chris Wiggins. “I really respect what Coach Deggs has going there with his “Pack Menatlity. It is very similar to what we preach, in that the “We” is way more important than the “Me”. I am so proud of him”
A strong work ethic is something that has been passed down to Hearn from three key men in his life; his grandfathers and his dad. Together by their example and their words, they demonstrated that you earn your rewards in life and that humility goes a lot farther than arrogance. Hearn is proud of his accomplishments on and off the field, but like his grandfather who recently passed away, he neither feels or felt the need to advertise them. It wasn’t until after his grandfather passed away that Hearn discovered that he had been an all-state football player. In fact, so humble was he that there was no news conference or major announcement, instead he signed the acceptance letter at his kitchen table while his mom snapped a photo.
Acclimating to a new team, a new program and new teammates is something the Crosby graduate is prepared to do. In sports he knows that yesterday is in the past and it’s all about what you can do for me today. When he steps on the diamond for the first at time at Don Sanders Stadium in Huntsville, no one will care that he hit .440 in his senior season or that nearly thirty percent of his 55 hits went for extra bases including a team high 12 doubles. Nor will it matter that he averaged nearly an rbi a game in his year at Crosby High School or reached safely in 10 straight plate appearances in the Cougars historic playoff run.
“Hunter is a strong physical hard working kid that we feel has a ton of upside and really fits our mold of blue collar hard working overachievers that have ability,” continued Deggs. “He will have a big impact on our program moving forward”
Since he was seven years old, Hearn has been playing baseball and setting records but thought that the idea of playing for a D1 college had gone by the wayside when no real offers came along. On that day while riding the mower, Hearn was preparing to go to Angelina Community College. According to his mom, Carol, a trip had been planned for the next day to turn in his admission papers.
“The news of the Sam Houston phone call was a shock. We were actually leaving the next morning to take a trip to Angelina to turn in his admissions paperwork,” said his mom. “In less than 24hrs, he committed to be a Bearkat! Blane and I are excited for Hunter and thankful to have Coach Deggs as his coach. Hunter is very dedicated and will give his team and coaches 100%. Seeing your child’s life long dream become a reality, is a blessing.”
Stoked to just get the phone call was only the beginning of this dream becoming a reality in a whirlwind of 24 hours. The scholarship offer came while Hunter and his mom were touring the facilities and meeting with Coach Deggs. As they toured the facilities and listened to the coach talk about the BearKat program, accomplishments and tradition, it became apparent that his could be a place where Hunter would feel at home. A program from which 54 ballplayers have been drafted by Major League Baseball including Ken Boswell of the 69 World Champion Mets and nine year veteran knuckleball pitcher Steve Sparks. A program that has won a national title, 11 Conference titles including three straight and counting, 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and eight College World Series appearances. It was hearing all that and then pairing the coaching philosophy with his own belief that sold Hunter on SHSU.
“I’m ready to buy in,” says Hearn. “It’s every kid’s dream to play in the big leagues but very few make it, that’s the glory of it. It’s a long road and a lot of cards have to play just right for it to happen. At Sam Houston, I will mature as a person and a player which will help me pursue this dream. Not many kids are presented with the opportunity that I am getting so I’m going to take it and run with it. I am ready to hit it hard from the start and succeed at school and on the field.”
Written by: Lou Roesch