Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. announced today that Major League Baseball has appointed former Major League player Curtis Pride as its newest "Ambassador for Inclusion." In addition, Billy Bean, who was hired as the League's inaugural "Ambassador for Inclusion" in July 2014, has been promoted to the expanded position of Vice President, Social Responsibility & Inclusion.
In his new capacity, Pride will provide guidance, assistance and training related to MLB's efforts to ensure an inclusive environment. A large part of Pride's role will be to encourage continued outreach, participation and equal opportunity in support of MLB's Youth Programs, overseen by Senior Vice President Tony Reagins. Pride will also manage the development of an inclusive educational and training forum under Wendy Lewis, who is MLB's Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Strategic Alliances, and will serve as a resource for individuals in the baseball family regarding issues related to disabilities.
In his elevated role, Bean will be responsible for many of the League's social responsibility initiatives, including oversight of MLB's Workplace Code of Conduct and anti-bullying programming, while continuing to facilitate inclusion strategies with a focus on the LGBT community.
Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: "Curtis Pride is an inspiring example of determination and an outstanding role model for kids and all those who overcome challenges. He will offer a valuable perspective as we continue efforts to foster an inclusive environment for anyone who plays or is a fan of our sport."
"I also want to congratulate Billy Bean on his expanded duties and commend him for the exemplary work that he has done throughout our game. Billy has exceeded our greatest expectations since beginning in this new role, and he continues to illustrate that the National Pastime is built on a foundation of inclusion, respect and equal opportunity."
"I am very excited to be a part of Major League Baseball as its newest 'Ambassador for Inclusion'," said Pride. "I look forward to working with everyone at the Office of the Commissioner to make a tremendous impact in the baseball community."
Pride, who has been deaf since birth, played in 421 Major League games across parts of 11 seasons (1993, 1995-2001, 2003-2006) as an outfielder. The Maryland native finished with a .250 career batting average, 20 home runs and 82 RBI after playing for the Montreal Expos, the Detroit Tigers, the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees and the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels. The College of William & Mary product was a regular season contributor to four Clubs that reached the Postseason and played in the 2004 Division Series with the American League West Champion Angels. The 421 games are by far the most played by a deaf player since William Hoy ended his Major League career more than 110 years ago in 1902.
Upon retiring from the game, Pride became the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University, the world's leading university for the education and career development of deaf and hard of hearing students. In five seasons he has taken Gallaudet from a record of 4-29 in the year prior to his arrival to an all-time school record of 27 wins in 2014.