KC Royals sign player with autism to minor-league contract

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2018 @ 3:12 AM

Tarik El-Abour, an outfielder with autism who was signed to a minor-league contract by the Kansas CIty Royals, someday may play at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Brian Davidson/Getty Images
Tarik El-Abour, an outfielder with autism who was signed to a minor-league contract by the Kansas CIty Royals, someday may play at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.(Brian Davidson/Getty Images)

The Kansas City Royals signed a player with autism to a minor-league baseball contract Friday, WDAF reported.

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Tarik El-Abour, 25, an outfielder from San Marino, California, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 and did not speak until he was 6. He is believed to be the first player with autism to sign with a major-league baseball organization, the Kansas City Star reported.

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“Baseball and autism are very similar in terms of discipline and repetitiveness,” former Royals player and team special adviser Reggie Sanders told WDAF. “It kind of goes hand-in-hand. It’s a beautiful thing when it can marry together.”

Sanders’ 40-year-old brother, Demetrius, was diagnosed with autism at age 3, the Star reported. Sanders decided to launch a foundation to spread awareness about the condition.

“We’re doing something that provides an opportunity for people to see what it looks like for inclusion, number one, and creates that awareness — but also in sustainability,” Sanders, who ended his 17-year major-league career in 2007 after two seasons with the Royals, told the Star. “For me, that’s really what tugs my heart.”

El-Abour played baseball at Pasadena City College in California and transferred to Concordia University after his sophomore year. After being cut by Concordia, El-Abour played at Pacifica College and Bristol University.

In 2016, El-Abour played in the independent Empire League and won rookie-of-the-year honors after hitting .323, the Star reported. Last year, El-Abour batted .240 in league play.

El-Abour will play in rookie-league games at the Royals’ extended spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona, WDAF reported.

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