Curtis Pride

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Curtis John Pride

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Biographical Information[edit]

Curtis Pride was diagnosed at nine months old as being born deaf, because his mother contracted rubella during pregnancy. He grew up in Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC, where he attended a school with special auditory classes until seventh grade, and then was mainstreamed. His parents wanted him to fit into the hearing world, so he was never taught sign language. Instead, he was taught to read lips. Showing his athletic ability, Pride was a starting guard for the College of William & Mary basketball team, which he attended while he was already playing minor league baseball, and a member of the U.S. junior national soccer team.

The 17-year-old Pride was drafted in the 10th round of the 1986 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He started his career that year with 27 games for the Kingsport Mets, hitting just .109 in 46 AB with 5 SB and a 6/24 BB/SO ratio. Back with Kingsport in 1987, he hit .240 in 31 games, with 4 2B, 14 SB, and an improved 16/34 BB/SO ratio in 104 AB. Assigned to Kingsport for the third year in 1988, Pride hit .284 in 70 games, with 13 2B, 8 HR, 23 SB, and more walks than K’s – 50-48 in 268 AB. Finally escaping the Appalachian League, Pride was assigned to the Pittsfield Mets in 1989. There he hit .259 in 55 games, with 7 2B, 6 HR, and 9 SB in 212 AB. Pride moved to a full-season league in 1990, with the Columbia Mets, where he played in only 53 games hitting .267 with 4 2B, 6 HR, and 11 SB in 191 AB. In 1991, he was given a shot to play a full season with the St. Lucie Mets. He hit .260/~.333/.418 with 24 SB in 392 AB. In 1992, Pride made it to AA with the Binghamton Mets, where he hit only .227/~.310/.358 in 388 AB with 14 SB in 25 attempts and a 47/110 BB/SO ratio. He became a free agent in October.

Signing with the Montreal Expos, Pride had stops in 1993 at AA and AAA, and made his major league debut. With the Harrisburg Senators he blossomed into a top hitter, batting .356/~.396/.672 with 21 SB in 26 attempts in 180 AB. Promoted to the AAA Ottawa Lynx, he hit .302/~.382/.443 with 29 SB in 41 attempts in 262 AB. In September, Pride hit .444/.444/1.111 in only 9 AB with the Expos. When he got his first major league, a pinch double against the Philadelphia Phillies at Stade Olympique at a key point of the pennant race, the crowd gave him a five-minute standing ovation. He later said that he couldn't hear anything, but he felt the vibrations of the stadium shaking. Back with Ottawa in 1994, Pride hit .257/~.342/.427 with 22 SB in 300 AB, and no September call-up because of the strike. In 1995 at Ottawa, he hit .279/~.331/.448 in only 154 AB with 8 SB, but got into 48 games with the Expos, where he hit a mere .175/.235/.190. Again he was granted free agency.

Signing with the Detroit Tigers in 1996, he spent only 9 games in the minors, then hit .300/.372/.513 in his first significant shot at the majors (267 AB). As the 5th OF/DH in 1997, Pride hit .213/.316/.341 in 164 AB then was released on August 21st. He signed with the Boston Red Sox a week later, but spent one game in AAA and 2 games in the majors before becoming a free agent again.

Signing with the Atlanta Braves in 1998, Pride spent 21 games with the Richmond Braves (.244/~.366/.372 8SB) and 70 games in Atlanta where he hit .252/.325/.411 with 4 SB in 107 AB. He was released at the end of the year.

Pride signed with the Kansas City Royals in February of 1999, but was released two weeks later after a wrist injury. Pride signed with the independent Nashua Pride of the Atlantic League, but hit only .063 as a DH in 32 AB.

Pride returned to the Mets organization in 2000, but spent only 15 games with the Norfolk Tides before being sent to the Red Sox, where he played 48 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Overall he hit .303/.450/.573 with 15 SB and a 49/38 BB/SO ratio in the International League. He got only 20 AB with Boston hitting .250/.286/.300, before being released in July. Signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he spent the rest of the year with the Albuquerque Dukes, hitting .293/.383/.526 in 133 AB. Again he was a free agent at the end of the year. In 2001, he signed with the Expos again. He spent 22 games at Ottawa (.333/.432/.593) and 36 games in Montreal (.250/.345/.355).

Pride signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002, but spent the whole year in AAA. He hit .296/.362/.436 for the Nashville Sounds, tying for the team lead with 22 SB. Pride started 2003 with the Nashua Pride, but hit much better his second time around. In 61 AB, he hit .344 with 5 2B, 5 HR, and 5 SB, then was sold to the New York Yankees in May. Pride was only 1 for 12 in 4 games with the Yankees, and hit .289/.357/.467 with 7 SB (2nd on the team) for the Columbus Clippers. He was a free agent again at the end of the year.

Pride in 2010

Pride signed with the Anaheim Angels in 2004. He hit .431/.465/.677 in only 65 AB with the Salt Lake Stingers and .250/.268/.325 in 40 AB as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement with the Angels. He was a free agent again, but re-signed with the Angels for 2005. For Salt Lake, Pride hit .289/.324/.418 with 10 SB in 280 AB, but was only 1 for 11 in 11 games for the Angels.

In 20 professional seasons, he played for 10 different organizations. He played in 1193 minor league games to go with 399 major league contests. He finished out his career in 2008 with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

Pride and his wife Lisa started the Together with Pride foundation to benefit hearing-impaired children, and they run it from their home in West Palm Beach, FL. Pride gives many interviews by reading lips and responds well thanks to years of speech therapy. His words are generally clear due to hours in front of a mirror to make sure his mouth is formed properly for words. He uses a hearing aide in his left ear to provide enough amplification to hear some conversation and background noise. The PA system comes through as only a garble, and only partial crowd noise is distinguishable. "I didn't think that you can communicate with him as well as you really can," Salt Lake Bees manager Brian Harper said. "The first few weeks that I was around him, I was wondering if he understood. But he communicates just as well as anybody."

Pride was named the head coach for Gallaudet University, which is the country's only liberal arts college for the deaf, in 2009. Its baseball team had traditionally been very weak, even playing in Division III of the NCAA, but Pride tried to change that. He is an important role model for young deaf athletes, given his impressive level of achievement. The team achieved an all-time record of 27 wins in 2014.

Pride was named to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in June 2010 by President Barack Obama. In January of 2016, he was named Major League Baseball's Ambassador for Inclusion, succeeding Billy Bean, who was promoted to Vice-President for Responsibility and Inclusion.

Sources: Sacramento Bee, 1987-2005 Baseball America Almanacs

Further Reading[edit]

  • Norm King: "Expos Play With Pride; September 17, 1993: Montreal Expos 8, Philadelphia Phillies 7 At Olympic Stadium", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 93-95. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6

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