Defying all odds, an autistic baseball players journey
Growing up Tarik El-Abour was told because he was autistic he wouldn’t be able to play baseball at a high level, but he never let that stop him. Now at 23-years-old El-Abour is continuing to prove people wrong as he tries to make a professional baseball roster at the Empire Pro Baseball League tryouts in Georgetown, Del.
“I’m honored that I have a chance to make a team and I’m just waiting for the outcome I feel like I’ve done my part and now I just have to leave it into whatever’s meant to be,” El-Abour said.
Despite the doubters, El-Abour’s mother Nadia Bedwan tells 47 ABC her son has always been set on playing professional baseball.
“He said I’m going to be a Major League Baseball player and I said okay son good luck and you know we’re 10 so let’s just go from there,” Bedwan.
Bedwan said once El-Abour set playing pro ball in his sights, he began to make the necessary steps to get there.
“He found a travel team and he played on them on the summer, and then he made the high school team and then he made the varsity team and the he made every team except for one,” Bedwan said.
That one team, Concordia University in Irvine, Cal. After getting cut El-Abour quickly transferred that year to Bristol University in Anaheim.
He played outfield all four years.
That experience led him to Georgetown, Del. and to the league’s Director of Business and Baseball Administration, Eddie Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said he never cared about El-Abour’s autism, it was his skill that mattered.
“We saw video footage of him 6’3 and 6’4 60-yard dashes and you know that’s incredible talent great speed and you know we thought that’s a prospect right there. We need to take a closer look at a guy like Tarik,” Gonzalez said.
The league will carry four teams this summer and Gonzlaez says El-Abour has a shot at making a roster.
El-Abour said during the week long spring training he feels like his skills have been respected.
Although he’s modest, he knows many in the autistic community look up to him. While our crew was there a father of an autistic child even asked El-Abour to sign a ball for his son.
But El-Abour has a message not just for folks with autism, but for anyone who’s ever been told they cant do something.
“If you feel like you could do something with it, no matter what anyone says, and if you love it keep working there’ll be that one yes,” El-Abour said.
Gonzalez tells 47 ABC that even if El-Abour does not make the initial roster there’s still a chance he’ll join a roster later in the season. That’s because of potential vacancies due to injuries and the possibility that players leave for the minor leagues.