Taylor Hearn got a major league sendoff to his minor league destination with festivities that included a mayoral proclamation and a home-plate ceremony held to retire the No. 21 he wore as a Royse City High School Bulldog baseball player.
City and school officials joined Hearn and his family members for the festivities Thursday night on the Royse City High School baseball field.
The 22-year-old Hearn, a 2012 Royse City High School graduate, left his Royse City home the next day en route to Florida where he will join his new team — the Bradenton Marauders, a Class A team in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
Hearn gave a brief “thank you” after Mayor Janet Nichol read a proclamation and high school baseball coach Clay Wolfe led the jersey retirement ceremony.
Then, there were photo opportunities — some on the field, but most off the field behind the Bulldogs’ dugout. Hearn posed with local dignitaries, friends, fans and family. The photo-taking continued several innings into the Royse City-Tyler John Tyler baseball game that followed the ceremony.
Wolfe opened the event with some remarks.
“I knew him as a young man, as an adolescent,” the coach said. “I’ve had a chance lately to get to know him as the man he has grown into. And it has been an honor. I love the fact that at some point we had a young man of this caliber in our program. It’s awesome.”
Wolfe then spoke the official words that retired No. 21:
“At this time, The Royse City High School Bulldog baseball program — past, present and future — would like to recognize and honor Taylor Hearn’s achievements and success by retiring the No. 21 jersey that he wore during his time here at Royse City High School.”
Two current Bulldogs baseball players held the framed jersey during the ceremony.
Nichol then read the proclamation, beginning with the statement that the City of Royse City and the Royse City Independent School District “are proud to recognize the many accomplishments of hometown hero Taylor Hearn.”
The proclamation ended with the mayor designating Feb. 23 as “Taylor Hearn Day” and urging “all citizens to join me in recognizing Taylor for his remarkable accomplishments and wishing him well as he begins the next chapter of his story.”
Following is the rest of the proclamation:
“Whereas, Taylor was a two-year letterman in baseball while at Royse City High school.
“Whereas, upon graduation from Royse City High School in 2012, Taylor was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he chose college instead and traded in the black and gold for green and gold at San Jacinto College in Houston.
“Whereas, after his freshman year of college, Taylor was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, once again he chose college.
“Whereas, his sophomore year of college he helped his team make it to the college regionals, Taylor was drafted by the Minnesota Twins.
“Whereas, his junior year of college he traded in the green and gold for the green and white of Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma. Taylor was drafted by the Washington Nationals, he was named in the Top 20 Prospects, and he began his career in professional baseball.
“Whereas, his many coaches and teachers in Royse city High School proudly join the mayor and city council in congratulating Taylor on his many accomplishments during his high school and collegiate career.”
“First and foremost,” Hearn responded, “I want to thank God. If it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t be here right now.
“It’s been a very, very long journey and I know it’s just the beginning. I’m so excited for it and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.”
He thanked his sister, Robyn; his father, Robby — “He is the reason I am the man I am today” — and mother, Debra — “the backbone of the family.”
Hearn said he almost quit baseball his sophomore year. Thanks to his mom, Hearn said, he didn’t quit.
“If it wasn’t for her and helping me get a closer relationship with God,” he said, “I wouldn’t be here today.”
He also thanked Wolfe and other coaches and trainers; his personal trainer and coach, Omar Washington and Jeff Shelton; his pastor, David E. Martin; and all his teachers, principals, friends and family.
Hearn then threw out the first pitch before the Royse City-John Tyler game.
Jim Hardin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.