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The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The proverbial tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"—all familiar sounds known to baseball players and fans alike. But these memorable noises of the ball field are something that Curtis Pride has never been able to enjoy. Pride is one of only a handful of deaf baseball players in the history of Major League Baseball. In fact, he’s the first one in more than 60 years.
See also: A text-only version of the silence of baseball.
From a very young age, Pride was different…but not because of his disability. Since the first time he started playing competitive sports, he was stronger, faster and more athletic than all of his peers. He was an outstanding multi-sport athlete, competing in a Junior World Cup Soccer Tournament, winning a scholarship to play college basketball and signing his first professional baseball contract at just 17-years old.
“I always felt that even though I have a disability…I could succeed in whatever I wanted to do,” Pride says.
The standout athlete played in the big leagues for eleven years. After his retirement in 2008, he wanted to give other hearing-impaired ball players the chance to excel. He found that opportunity at Gallaudet University, the only college in America where all programs are designed to accommodate deaf students. While the school has had a long history of academic success, the men’s baseball team has always left something to be desired…until Pride stepped in to lead the squad. Now in his third season, Coach Pride is starting to turn the team around. He’s recruited a talented team of deaf and hard-of-hearing young athletes from around the country to join his lineup and they’re now beating teams that would outscore them by at least a dozen runs just a season or two ago.
With Pride at the helm, his players are developing their baseball skills and boosting their confidence in a world that caters to those who can hear. “I know what these kids have gone through,” says Pride. “I’m having fun… teaching them the life off the field, to be able to help them achieve their dreams and goals.”
Despite the obstacles he’s had to overcome, Pride proves each day that there’s no limit to what he can achieve. My Generation joins this inspirational athlete who’s now helping others conquer their own barriers.
James Brown | Community Ambassador