You could be a pretty big Angels fan and not remember much about Curtis Pride.
He was a journeyman outfielder and played just 68 games for the Angels in the final three years of his career. If casual baseball fans remember Pride at all, it’s because he was one of the few deaf men ever to play in the major leagues.
But Pride had one of the biggest hits in the Mike Scioscia era.
It was Sept. 29, 2004, and the Angels were in a three-way fight for the AL West, tied with the Oakland A’s for the division lead with only five games left. The Rangers, just returning to contention, were only three games out.
Texas led 6-5 in the ninth inning when they summoned hard-throwing closer Francisco Cordero, who had been largely automatic while piling up 48 saves to that point.
The Angels were desperate, down to their last out, when Vladimir Guerrero pushed a single to right field. That brought up Pride, who would bat just 40 times all year. Pride took a ball and then swung at a fastball and sent it soaring to deep center field. The ball slammed off the wall and scored Guerrero all the way from first to tie the game.
The Angels won in 11 innings on a Troy Glaus home run, Troy Percival holding on in a rocky bottom of the inning. Many of the Angels players hung around the clubhouse afterward and watched the A’s lost to the Seattle Mariners, moving the Angels closer to their first division crown in 18 years.
It wouldn’t have happened without that key contribution from a player who had bounced between eight teams in 11 years. Pride called it, “probably the biggest hit of my career,” which seems like an understatement.
Pride is now the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., whose programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students. He lives in Florida and showed up at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista last December.
He ran into Scioscia in the lobby. No word if he had removed the word “probably” when they talked about that hit.
This story is part of an occasional series of Angels Moments which, when it's complete, will -- we hope -- add up to 50. The Angels are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. These are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but simply an assembly of scenes and anecdotes that are part of the team's colorful past.