A Major League Baseball Team Just Signed The First Player With Autism
In a historic first for Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Royals recently signed Tarik El-Abour as the first player known to have autism.
El-Abour grew up in San Marino, California, where he displayed a passion for baseball at an early age. His mother, Nadia Khalil, told the San Marino Tribune that the way his mind worked contributed to his success because it drove him to learn every aspect of the game and to practice frequently.
“He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it. He told me that when he grew up and played baseball, he would buy me a house wherever he plays, so that I could watch his games live,” she said. “He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself.”
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El-Abour eventually made it to the minor leagues, where he spent two seasons as an outfielder in the Empire League. He was named rookie of the year in 2016 while playing for the Sullivan Explorers. He had a batting average of .323. He also played for the Plattsburg Red Birds, where his average was a .240.
After winning a championship, El-Abour was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Royals game during Autism Awareness night. He was quickly spotted and signed to the Royals.
In honor of Autism Awareness Night, our first pitch is from Tarik El-Abour, the first player with autism to sign a pro baseball contract. pic.twitter.com/lfcbAGsx7c
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 14, 2017
El-Abour’s success will no doubt be an inspiration for young athletes with autism. His story shows how persistence and dedication can pay off.
“Tarik means ‘strength’ in Arabic,” Khalil said. “I named him that because I almost lost him twice during pregnancy. I looked for a name that meant something very strong.”