By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPCC
In eleven Major League Baseball seasons from 1993-2006, journeyman Curtis Pride hit 20 home runs and had 82 runs batted in total as an outfielder for seven different teams, including the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers. Though his numbers don't impress, Pride for years nonetheless has been a star and role model for Deaf Americans. He has been one of only two Deaf baseball players in the Majors over the last 100 years, with the other being the Cincinnati Reds' Dick Sipek in 1945.
In an email, Pride said about his life since the Majors: “President Davila from Gallaudet University (in Washington D.C., the world's largest undergraduate university for Deaf students) then emailed me one day asking if I would be interested in being the next head baseball coach at Gallaudet. I never thought I'd be a college baseball coach, but was intrigued by the idea of turning the program around after a long history of losing seasons and at the same time being a role model for these hearing-impaired students.”
Indeed, Pride has helped turn around the Gallaudet Bison. The Division 3 Bison under Pride over a four-year span have won the North Eastern Athletic Conference regular season title twice and beaten six Top-25 teams along the way, produced two All-Americans, and garnered three conference Player of the Year, two Pitcher of the Year, and two Coach of the Year awards. Over the last four years, the Bison have broken their own school record for most wins in a season three times.
Pride said, “It wasn't easy changing the culture of the entire baseball program. I focused on recruiting mainstreamed oral players who played a high level of competition most of their lives.”
Besides the Bison, Pride has another passion. He would like seeing William “Dummy” Hoy gain induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hoy was the first Deaf baseball player to have a professional major league career, amassing Hall of Fame worthy statistics while starring for the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, and Louisville Colonels from 1888-1902. The Gallaudet Bison play on Hoy Field.
So far, Hall of Fame voters have snubbed Hoy. Said Pride, “I think the Deaf community would be ecstatic about Hoy being inducted into the Hall of Fame and would be proud of him. William 'Dummy' Hoy is to the Deaf community what Jackie Robinson is to the African-American community.”
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