They played in the Bronx, 10 years a part, and are now reunited through a common bond in a new special card set released by Topps this week. Jim Abbott, born without a right hand but never slowing down his passion for baseball, and Curtis Pride, once drafted by the Mets despite being deaf since birth and spending 14 years in the Majors are two of those featured in “Pride & Perseverance,” a celebration of MLB players past and present who have overcome great physical challenges to rise to the top of the game.
The set, originally proposed by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), has everyone from Pete Gray, who played for the St. Louis Browns with one leg, to current Cubs Anthony Rizzo and John Lester, both who have beaten cancer.
“People with disabilities are often looked at for what they can’t do instead of being appreciated for what they can do. We hope these cards will help people take a closer look at the potential of people with disabilities,” said Mark O’Neal, PBATS President and Chicago Cubs Director of Medical Administration in a release. “Imagine if a child or the parent of a child with a disability, by simply opening a pack of baseball cards, discovers that one of their heroes was legally blind or deaf or has battled cancer? They would truly feel empowered and encouraged.”
Abbott began his MLB journey in 1989 after a standout career for the University of Michigan, eventually making it to The Bronx in 1993, and made history by no-hitting the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on September 3. He went on to pitch for the White Sox and the Brewers as well, but was never better than when he took the mound for the Yankees. Pride, taken by the Mets out of William and Mary, had his best years with the Washington Nationals, but also donned the Pinstripes, appearing in four games in 2003. He is currently the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University in Washington.
“As a game for all, Baseball is proud to be the sport of Jim Abbott, Curtis Pride and many world-class athletes who have overcome obstacles en route to success in the Major Leagues,” said Wendy Lewis, MLB Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Strategic Alliances. “This special set from Topps is a terrific way not only to honor all individuals who have faced challenges and reached the highest level of their chosen sport, but also to inspire anyone who dreams of one day being a part of the National Pastime. We commend Topps, a longtime valued partner, for this extraordinary tribute to players who have made an enduring impact on our game.”
2015 Topps Baseball Update Series can be found in hobby shops and national mass retailers such as Walmart and Target, beginning this week.