Imagine what it must be like to be without one of your six senses. To take a pitch and not hear the umpire call a ball or strike. To be in the field and not hear the crack of the bat. To live your entire life and never hear the words, “Play Ball!”
These are all sounds ingrained in our collective baseball memories. Anyone who knows baseball knows that these things are synonymous with the game we love so dearly.
Curtis Pride, former 13-year Major League Baseball player, reached the highest level of the game without ever experiencing these simple treasures. At just nine months of age, hearing tests confirmed that Pride was born profoundly deaf.
After attending the Montgomery County Public School System's Auditory Service program from age two through sixth grade, Pride was enrolled in standard area schools leading up to his graduation from John F. Kennedy High School in 1986.
High school is a hard phase of just about anyone’s life, and Pride had to manage the landscape without the basic ability to hear. Luckily for him, he was strong enough to overcome his disability with hard work, perseverance and the gift of athletic ability.
Pride’s accomplishments in baseball may be well-known, but how about the fact that he maintained a 3.6 GPA in high school? What about his selection as an All-American high school soccer player, or the fact that he was a member of the United States national team that participated in the Junior World Cup? Even more, he was listed as one of the top 15 youth soccer players in the world in 1985.
In addition to being drafted by the New York Mets, Pride was also offered a full scholarship to play basketball at the College of William & Mary. Pride spent the next four years starting for his college basketball team while also beginning his baseball career in the Mets’ organization.
In 1990, despite his heavy workload, Pride earned his degree from William & Mary. In 1993, he made his major league debut with the Montreal Expos, becoming the first deaf major league player since 1945. He recorded a double for his first MLB hit in the same season, garnering a several-minute standing ovation from the home crowd.
Despite never being a full-time player in the majors, Pride put together 13 solid seasons, reaching his pinnacle with the Detroit Tigers in 1996. In 301 plate appearances, Pride hit .300 with a .513 slugging percentage. He reached career-highs with 10 home runs, 17 doubles, five triples, 11 stolen bases, 52 runs scored and 31 RBI.
Maybe Pride wasn’t one of the all-time greats, but he got the most out of every ability he possessed, despite being deaf.
In his post-baseball life, Pride works with the organization “Together With Pride,” which provides aid to hearing impaired children. In arguably his greatest honor, Pride is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Presented by MetLife. I Can Do This.