Baseball Coach,of Gallaudet
Curtis Pride officially became Gallaudet
University's Head Baseball Coach on December
1, 2008, and began his work with an immediate
advantage: everyone in the Deaf community
already knew who he was, and many knew the
details of his 23-year professional career, including
11 years in the majors and 12 in the minors.
He played for the Montreal Expos. Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves,
New York Yankees, and Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels. Despite his prowess as an outfielder,
was used primarily as a pinch-hitter and injury replacement.
Still, he acquired a huge, devoted fan
following, including a large contingent of
deaf children and adults—hearing, too. He
earned the respect of his teammates.
It's well-known that Pride had an oral/mainstreamed
upbringing. His appointment as Bison's Head
Coach signaled Pride's entry into an American
Sign Language environment, a task that he
has been taking on with his customary determination.
He was assigned interpreters, and began taking
ASL classes so that he could communicate
with everyone on campus—an act that could
only enhance his popularity there.
The Bison's home field was officially
renamed in honor of the Deaf major-leaguer,
William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy (1862-1961),
in April 2000. It's known that Hoy, during
his first stint with the Washington Senators
(1888-1889), visited Kendall Green several
times, was impressed with its beauty. We
haven't found explicit confirmation that
he participated in pick-up games with the
students, but it's certainly possible. Ironically, Hoy Field
is one of the very few diamonds familiar
to Hoy that still exist.
Despite their rich history, the Bison
have not been known as a top team. The caliber of play
tended to be casual—they played for fun—and
got trounced by other collegiate teams that
took a more aggressive approach to competition.
Pride has taught his players how to grip
a ball properly, how to do more aggressive
baserunning, how to become more hustling,
intuitive, serious players—competitors who
play to win. Pride has acquired experience
and savvy during his professional career,
and wants the Bison to be top contenders.
On April 1, the Bison ended
a 13-year losing streak in the Capital Athletic Conference, defeating Stevenson
University 5-3 in the first game of a doubleheader. Stevenson won the second
game 3-2, but for the Bison, it was cause for celebration.
The final game of the season, April 27, was a "heartbreaker"
loss to Valley Forge Christian College. The Bison finished the season with
a 4-34 record. "Yes," Proide told us, "the team's performance has improved
since I took over the coaching position, but we still have a long way to
go to be one of the most respected baseball programs."
Pride knows what it means to win respect—the hard
way. He's determined that the Bisons are going to have it too.
Next Fall marks the Bison's debut in the North
Eastern Athletic Conference—and a new chapter in the Bison's history.