The Story of W&M Alum Curtis Pride

Image result for curtis pride baseball
W&M alum Curtis Pride is the focus of our inaugural guest post article this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, here you have it — the first-ever winner of our football prediction contest. We announce with great pride that Mark Mingee (’01) came within ONE POINT of predicting the actual W&M vs. Lafayette score. With his incredible guesswork, we’ve given Mark the opportunity to write his own post here on the Blog.

If you want to take part in this week’s prediction contest, W&M vs. UVA, with the opportunity to post your own article here — be sure to leave a comment on our FB post here before kickoff on Friday at 8. Take it away, Mark!

Take Pride 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is a treasure trove of plaques, balls, books, movies, and tens of thousands of what the HOF labels artifacts representing all facets of the American pastime from the earliest days of professional baseball in the mid-19th century through the present.  One such artifact should hold special significance to Tribe fans.  Unlike much of the memorabilia representing the storied history of William & Mary athletics, this item is not green and gold.  It does not feature the word ‘Indians’ or ‘Tribe’.  And it has not found itself on the historic campus in the ‘Burg.

Before revealing the artifact itself, let me offer a little context. 

As a young W&M sports fan in the late 1980s, it was easy to catch guard Curtis Pride in action.  While Pride played more than 90 games for the basketball team, I’d venture to guess very few of us in the stands were fully aware that he was spending his basketball offseason toiling through the New York Mets’ farm system.  After graduating in 1990, Curtis Pride turned his full attention to baseball and made his Major League debut with the Montreal Expos during the 1993 season.  Eventually his MLB career would span parts of 11 seasons with six different franchises.

In an eleven-season major league career, Pride batted .250 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 421 major league games.

The combination of a college basketball career and a professional baseball career would be impressive enough.  But Curtis Pride was able to accomplish this despite being born more than 90 percent deaf.  Several years removed from his professional baseball career, Pride has spent the last eleven years as the head coach at Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf and hard of hearing.  His appointment in late 2008 forced him to fully embrace American Sign Language (ASL).  While continuing to coach the Bison, he has since served in many roles to promote deaf awareness and the use of ASL.

This brings us back to the artifact.  On August 19, 2018, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Carolina League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, hosted their first annual Deaf Awareness Night.  Curtis Pride was the centerpiece of this promotion.  Prior to the game, he ran a youth baseball clinic, helped conduct tours and hosted a Q&A for the deaf community present at the game.  That night, the Pelicans wore special uniforms with the script on the front and back of their jerseys and the front of their hats done in American Sign Language.

The event was so well received that in October 2018, the jersey worn that night by then-Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey was accepted for inclusion in the Hall of Fame’s permanent collection.

A friend who graduated from elsewhere recently noted that you really can find Tribe Pride in just about any community.  As we approach the first anniversary of this artifact’s inclusion, the Baseball Hall of Fame gives us another example of the truth of that statement.

Mark Mingee, W&M ’01

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