Minor League Outfielder with Autism From San Marino Signs With Kansas City Royals

Published : Tuesday, April 3, 2018 | 3:27 PM

Former minor league outfielder Tarik El-Abour recently inked a deal with the Kansas City Royals and is also considered to be the first professional MLB player who has autism.

A native of San Marino, El-Abour started swinging the bat as a kid. According to the San Marino Tribune, his love of the sport caught the attention of his mom, Nadia Khalil.

“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…He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it…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.”

El-Abour played for PCC, Concordia University, Pacifica College and Bristol University. He went undrafted but eventually landed with the independent Empire League, playing for the Sullivan Explorers in Loch Sheldrake, New York where he was Rookie of the Year in 2016, hitting .323 in 122 plate appearances.

In 2017, he landed a championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds, batting .240 with outstanding speed. That same year, he was asked to toss the first pitch and take batting practice with the club before a Royals/Angels game in Kansas City for Autism Awareness Night, as a special guest of Royals adviser Reggie Sanders who founded an organization dedicated to empowering and enabling people with autism.

This week, Tarik reports to Arizona to begin the extended spring training program with the Rookie team of the Kansas City Royals, and while he faces challenges, he is already a role model for others with autism and encourages everyone to keep going, no matter what they may face. “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.”















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