Former Wild Things manager Bart Zeller made the comment one summer evening last year that it was probably going to take only a few innings for him to regret giving C.J. Beatty a night off from playing the field and having him sit in the dugout with the coaching staff as the team’s designated hitter for a game.
That’s because Beatty likes to talk.
And then talk some more.
All that talking, however, is finally starting to pay off for the outgoing Beatty. These days, Beatty is supplementing his salary as an outfielder with the Wild Things by, you guessed it, talking.
Instead of irritating coaches in the dugout, Beatty is inspiring students, businessmen and even law enforcement officers with his words. The 25-year-old from Winston-Salem, N.C., is an aspiring motivational speaker who in the last 16 months has launched his own website, posts weekly motivational videos on YouTube and has had more than 50 speaking engagements.
Beatty said his foray into motivational speaking started when he was in Australia playing baseball two winters ago. He had too much free time and not enough people to talk with. He started thinking about what he would do when his baseball career ended.
“I still want to pursue baseball, but I don’t want to be one of those guys who don’t have a plan after baseball,” said Beatty, who is in his second season with the Wild Things after playing two years in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system.
Beatty said he had been invited many times to talk to youth baseball teams in North Carolina, but never considered making a living by doing public speaking.
“People were telling me that I was pretty good at that,” he said. “My grandmother used to say, ‘If a lot of people are saying it, then it must be true.’ So I talked it over with my mother, and she suggested I try motivational speaking. I didn’t know any motivational speakers or if you could make a living doing it. But I figured that if I start at age 24, then maybe when I’m in my 30s, I could have something going for myself.”
So Beatty, who has a verified Twitter account, launched www.cjbeatty.com in April of 2013, began posting weekly videos called “Motivational Nuggets” on YouTube each Wednesday at 7 a.m. – they attract thousands of viewers – and made motivational speaking a full-time job. Last offseason, he was a guest speaker at more than 50 schools and had one or two other speaking engagements each week. He delivered speeches at Wake Forest, Virginia and Campbell universities. He hopes to speak to students at Pitt this fall.
The highlight of Beatty’s young career was when he filled in as the keynote speaker for 300 narcotics officers from the East Coast at an event in Charleston, S.C. The originally scheduled speaker was Duane “Dog” Chapman, of TV’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” Chapman had to cancel and was replaced by Beatty, who might have preferred facing a pitcher throwing a 94 mph fastball than a room full of law enforcement officers. Beatty, however, to use a baseball term, hit it out of park.
“That was the most nervous time of my life,” Beatty said, “but that speech is what burst me into speaking to the corporate world.”
Beatty says he tailors his speeches to fit his audience.
“If I’m talking to elementary school students, I talk about having a dream and sticking with it. Don’t let others dictate your dream,” Beatty said. “When I talk to the high schoolers, I talk about decisions, right friends versus wrong friends, drugs and alcohol.
“I always ask the client what topic he wants me to talk about. Some say mental toughness or work ethic. If I go to a church, I might be asked to talk about faith. If I go to a business, I might discuss leadership.
“I also might talk about legacy,” he continued. “In the business world, you often run into people who believe they can’t keep up with their dream. They might say, ‘C.J., my dream was to play in the NFL or do this or that, but I’m 50 years old.’ What should be important to those people is their legacy. How are their children, grandchildren, friends going to remember them? Do they want to be remembered for being a person who quit? Or do they want to be a person who always tried to improve in life?”
Beatty might try providing some extra motivation for his teammates this week. The Wild Things are in first place in the Frontier League’s East Division, but only one game ahead of Evansville and two in front of third-place Southern Illinois. Washington begins a three-game road trip tonight at Schaumburg, which is one game out of first place in the West Division.
Beatty has been a big reason for Washington’s success. He is second in the league in home runs (17) and sixth in RBI (51).
“I use baseball in my speeches because most people can relate to sports and how much preparation you have to put into your sport,” Beatty said. “You need the same work ethic at your job. An employer wants a championship staff. And a job is like a baseball game. You can be on top of the world one day because you made so much money in sales. Then, it can all change in an instant. So how do you get back on top? How do you mount a comeback?”