Countdown To Spring Training: 11

(Syndicated from Second Place Is Not An Option) I could have gone the easy route and picked Brett Gardner for this post but I decided to go back 10 years to the 2003 season - yes, I know, I can't believe that season was 10 years ago either - and wanted to post this instead:

http://youtu.be/5hjJ3Y3Xbo4

There's nothing too out of the ordinary in this video. It's a New York Yankees player wearing #11 and he's hitting a home run against the Red Sox. But there was something out of the ordinary about this particular #11. The player's name is Curtis Pride and he is deaf.

Pride was born deaf but he became a fluent lip reader which allowed him to be able to attend regular schools with his friends. In high school, he excelled in baseball, basketball and soccer. When he moved onto college, he played point guard for William and Mary's basketball team.

He was originally signed by the New York Mets but when Pride reached the Majors in 1993, it was with Montreal Expos. He became the first deaf player to be in the big leagues since Dick Sipek played in 82 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1945.

Pride started off well, hitting a double, triple, home run and a single for the first four hits of his career. (This wasn't a true cycle because they weren't all hit in the same game.) He was moved around a lot and played for Expos, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees and Angels. He actually played for Boston and Montreal more than once.

Pride served primarily as an injury replacement or late inning replacement and in his 11 seasons of major league service he batted .250 (199-for-796) with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 421 games. Pride played his last game on October 1, 2006 with the Angels.

I remember watching that game back in 2003 and seeing Pride's home run as it happened. I also remember my eyes filling up with tears because I'm one of those really sensitive people who tears up at the drop of a hat. I thought it was so nice for him to hit a home run in a Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium and I loved seeing the crowd cheer for a curtain call.

It was a nice moment for Curtis Pride in a very short stint with the Yankees.