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Where Are They Now? Curtis Pride

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Photo by Andy Lyon (Getty Images)

Curtis Pride was born 95 percent deaf.

Growing up in Silver Spring, Md., he was a three-sport superstar. He eventually played basketball at William & Mary and soccer for Team USA at the 16U World Cup in 1985.

Pride was ranked as one of the best soccer players in the world as a 15-year-old, but baseball remained his first love. The Mets drafted him in the 10th round in 1986 out of Kennedy High, but he never reached Queens despite peaking at Double-A in 1992.

The Expos signed Pride as a minor league free agent in 1993, and the 24-year-old lefthanded hitter made his major league debut that September. He never became a big league regular yet played 11 seasons for six clubs, concluding his tenure with the 2006 Angels.

Pride hit .250/327/.405 for his career, making him one of the greatest deaf players in major league history. Beyond that, he was one of the most inspirational stories of our time. He won the Tony Conigliaro Award for courage in 1996 and the Henry Viscardi Achievements Award for disability activism in 2016.

When Pride’s career ended in 2008 following two seasons in the minors, he landed a head coaching position at Gallaudet University, a private school in Washington, D.C., for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing.

The easiest way to interview Pride was via email from his home in Wellington, Fla., where he lives with his wife, Lisa, and their two children, Noelle and Colten.

On gaining confidence: “Because I was almost always the best player on all my teams, my teammates looked up to me despite my disability. That fact gave me confidence because they didn’t care if I was deaf.”

Why he chose baseball: “Based on my international (soccer) success, I definitely believe I could have succeeded professionally in soccer. And while I had an accomplished college basketball career, I am less certain of my prospects to succeed in the NBA.”

On his drive to succeed: “I wanted to show others that despite of my disability I am just as good or better than anyone else on the field. I didn’t want people to think of me any differently because of my deafness.”

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MLB Hires Pride, Promotes Bean

Highlight of his major league career: “The highlight was getting my first major league hit (in 1993), a two-run double to help (the Expos) come from behind to beat the Phillies during the pennant race at the sold-out Olympic Stadium in Montreal. My hit resulted in a (lengthy) standing ovation from 45,000 people. It was an incredibly emotional experience for not only me, but also for most of the (fans).”

What led him to Gallaudet: “Not only would it allow me to gain valuable coaching experience at a less-pressurized level (Division III), it would also provide the opportunity to both impart my baseball knowledge to deaf players and inspire them to do great things in life.

“Having played for four Hall of Fame (-caliber) managers (Felipe Alou, Bobby Cox, Mike Scioscia and Joe Torre) . . . I am able to incorporate a combination of our different philosophies with aggressive baserunning, small ball, aggressive pitching and honest and open communication between the coach and team members.”

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