Believed to be the first professional baseball player with autism, former Pasadena City College outfielder Tarik El-Abour, 25, recently signed a minor league contract with Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals. El-Abour played for the Lancers in 2011 and as a part-time starter in 2013.
El-Abour appeared in 22 games as a sophomore on the '13 Lancers, batting .245 with four stolen bases.
In 2016, El-Abour signed with the Independent Empire League, competing for the Sullivan Explorers in southern New York. He won league Rookie of the Year honors, hitting .323 in 19 games. Then in 2017, El-Abour played on a championship team with the Plattsburgh (New York) Red Birds, driving in 11 RBI. Growing up in San Marino and playing baseball at San Marino High prior to attending PCC, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound El-Abour overcame obstacles as an autistic student but eventually developed his baseball skills to become good enough that the Royals signed him to a minor league deal.
He reported to Kansas City's extended spring training in Arizona on April 1. A year ago, El-Abour was invited by the Royals to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Autism Awarness Night before a game against the Anaheim Angels. El-Abour also took batting practice with the team before the game as an invitee of former Royals player and team adviser Reggie Sanders, who created a foundation devoted to helping people with autism.
Autism is "a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences." More than 3.5 million Americans live with autism.