Simply Baseball Notebook straight from the source March 2004

Playing with PRIDE and Purpose

-photo by Kyla Baldwin

The life of a professional baseball player can be full of more twists and turns than the plot of a daytime soap opera. Just ask Curtis Pride. Pride, an 18 year veteran of the pro ranks, began the 2003 season playing for the Nashua Pride, ironically, of the independent Atlantic League. Two months later, he found himself in Yankee stadium receiving a standing ovation.

"It's been an incredible year for me," Pride said of the 2003 season. "In the off-season, I didn't get any offers, so I played independent ball, put up good numbers, and hoped a team would recognize that. I never lost confidence in my abilities to get back to the big leagues. I played hard and hoped something good would happen."

After hitting .344 with 5 HR and 25 RBI in 16 games for Nashua, Pride was picked up by the Yankees organization in May and assigned to Triple A Columbus. He continued to swing a hot bat at Columbus, and was called up by the Yankees on July 4 to bolster their injury-riddled outfield.

It didn't take long for the journeyman outfielder to earn a place in the hearts of Yankee fans. On July 6, Pride's pinch hit home run sealed a victory over the rival Red Sox, and the crowd of 55,000 responded with a standing ovation. "It was an incredible feeling to hit a pinch hit home run at Yankee Stadium and to get a curtain call," Pride explained. "It was an emotional moment for me."

Pride's stay in the Bronx was short however, as he was sent back to Columbus on July 23. "I kind of expected it," Pride said of the demotion. "I knew that (first baseman) Nick Johnson was supposed to come off the DL (disabled list), and that I would be the odd man out. That was fine, but hopefully I'll get called back up."

During Pride's well traveled professional career, he's played in over 1,000 minor league games with eight different organizations. His motivation to keep going is simple, "The love of the game (motivates me)," the 34-year-old explained. "I think I can keep going for a few more years if I stay in shape, work hard, and take it one day at a time."

In 353 major league games with the Expos, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves and Yankees, Pride has posted .253 average and hit 19 home runs. His best season came in 1996, when the outfielder hit .300 with 10 home runs in 96 games for Detroit.

Despite all he has accomplished on the field, Pride is most well known for something he can't do very well. 95% deaf at birth, Pride has had to answer questions about his disability, which often overshadow his accomplishments on the field, throughout his career.

The Maryland native however, accepts and understands the situation. When asked if he gets tired of the questions about his disability, Pride said, "Not really.  I've been doing this for 18 years and have had to deal with it. I look at myself as a role model for other people with disabilities and take pride in that. The main thing that I, and others with disabilities want, is to be treated like everyone else."

Pride, who is able to speak effectively, wears a hearing aid and has mastered the art of reading lips. He communicates so easily and casually with his teammates, that you leave with the feeling that he is just one of the guys.

-David Zingler


Pride's page @

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