American-Palestinian becomes first MLB professional with autism

Wed, 2018-04-04 22:01

Kansas City, Missouri: An American of Palestinian origin has made history by becoming the first individual with autism to sign a professional contract with a Major League Baseball (MLB) club, having penned a deal with 2015 World Series champions Kansas City Royals.
Raised in San Marino, California, the outfielder has spent the last two seasons with the Empire Pro Baseball League.
This is not the first time El-Abour has been involved with the Royals organization — last April he helped the club host Autism Night at the Kauffman Stadium, even throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
While not an elite prospect, or expected to get out of the minors for the ongoing 2018 season, his prospects are good — especially considering his condition. His mother, Nadia Khalil, told Yahoo Sports: “That is when I started to see the workings of the autistic mind,” said Khalil. “I started to see how numbers had a lot to do with how he thinks. Those of us without autism think in concepts, he thinks in numbers. The greater the number of times he did anything, the better he was at it. Just like us.
“However, the way the numbers worked in his mind went way further than anything I could have yet imagined. 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.
“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.”
In 2016, El-Abour was named the Empire League’s Rookie of the Year after batting .323 in 122 plate appearances and in 2017, he won a championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds.

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